This article originally appeared in the blog published by BIOBM Consulting.
It's enticing to try to close every prospect at the first opportunity. You can certainly rationalize doing so — you're just trying to make the most of every opportunity, ASAP. Attempting to do so, however, can drive away your customers by forcing them to choose before they are ready to buy. While this may seem obvious in theory, life science marketers and salespeople routinely attempt to push their customers through their buying journey.
Your scientist-customers are risk-averse. If a customer isn't sure that your product or service can perform the job they need it to perform, or if they don't yet see that it is worth the price, they'll view the purchase as being a high-risk endeavor. Asking a fresh prospect to make a purchase is a very big step for them — it involves a lot of risk since they are not yet certain about the utility and value of your product. The conversion of such a step would be very, very low.
To improve your conversion, you must allow your prospects to take smaller steps. Break up the buying journey into easily digestible chunks. For instance, a prospect whose email address you received from a conference may be sent a series of emails linked to various pieces of content. They may be invited to view a demo video, then subsequently given a demonstration. Perhaps after that there is a free trial, and only then would they be given the "hard sell." This is merely an illustrative example, but one in which we have broken up one potentially huge step (visiting a booth at a conference → buying a product) into many smaller, less risky steps.
Marketers can also use these small steps in conjunction with marketing automation, CRM and/or analytics software to gain more insights into the customer. These insights may be subsequently fed to sales and/or used to help score the leads to help ensure that sales resources are deployed effectively.
Any buying journey can be broken up into an infinitesimal amount of steps, but we don't want to make the buying journey too long by breaking it into an extremely large number of tiny steps — or, even worse, to decrease conversion by providing too many opportunities to drop out of the process. Additionally, not every product has the same amount of risk and will require the same amount of steps. Generally speaking, products which are more novel to the customer, products which are complicated, more expensive products, and products which are more central to the scientists' research will carry more risk and therefore require more steps. So how do we know how many steps we might need? Consider the informational requirements of the average customer when making a purchasing decision and develop a content roadmap. This will help you determine the appropriate content which should be delivered, and the nature of the content should enlighten you as to the form it should take. Always allow the customer a direct path to purchase and contact high-quality leads directly to nudge them into making a decision.
One final note — the "small steps" notion does not apply only to the actual purchase. Asking a fresh prospect to give up a plethora of personal information right away will also lead to a low conversion. Ensure that you don't place any obstructively large steps in your customer's way.
Carlton Hoyt is the founder of BioBM Consulting, which specializes in providing marketing, distribution, and operations services to life science tools and services companies. BioBM provides a wide selection of in-depth marketing and business development expertise to generate more demand and grow sales for any life science organization.