Sales & Marketing

5 Steps for Visiting Scientific Customers

To help you plan your communications strategy and maximize your time, we have gathered our collective SciLeads wisdom to provide you with five steps for an effective scientific visit outreach campaign.

It is often the case that when scientific sales representatives carry out in-person visits, they have a higher rate of closing their sales because they are able to develop a stronger relationship with their end-users and/or distributors. Face-to-face meetings still hold a lot of value, but that being said, no one wants to be on the road all the time. So here are 5 steps to efficiently plan your visits and maximize your time:

Step 1 – Pick the places

To decide on the best locations to visit you need to:

  • compile a list of all the accounts in your territory and rank them by potential account size.
  • take the top ones and map out your visits for the next year
  • plan it so you aren’t hitting the same locations too frequently

Think about the practicalities like what the weather will be like in the locations at that time of year. For example, skidding around Aberdeen or Chicago in December in a hire car with no snow tyres is not a good idea! Also, check if there are any trade shows in that area that you could align with – we have a list of the top 400 shows by location in the platform to help. You don’t need to have a booth at a tradeshow to get the benefit of the event, check out these 5 trade show tips to find out how.

Step 2 – Pick the people

Once you have chosen the place(s) you’re going to be, you need to create a list of the people you are going to reach out to for meetings such as:

  • Current customers – particularly if there is a renewal or upsell opportunity
  • Current or potential partners – who can help you reach new customers
  • Distributors or value added reseller (VAR) – who can add mutual value with and to your product offering deliver your product(s)

You will also want to research and reach out to some new leads. Start by using your existing CRM contacts to explore their wider connections and take a look at their contacts on LinkedIn. You can also search for relevant industry professionals on this platform.

Knowing who has recently received a grant and has the budget to purchase new equipment is very useful – you can do this by looking up NIH Reporter or the local grant website to find who has recently received funding within your application area. By looking through an institute’s website you can read their research and compile a list of potential people to contact from this.

Tip: If your visit is incorporating a tradeshow then look through the list of people conducting poster talks to find people conducting relevant research and arrange to meet them at the event.

Look at people that are using competitive products to know the key selling points that you want to outline before you go. Or use SciLeads which can do all of the above at the touch of a button – click here to get set up with a trial now.

Step 3 – Compose your email

In an ideal world, we would segment our lists between customers and non-customers, but this is often very difficult to do – what if the person in the lab who bought the product isn’t the same one who is using it?

So the trick is to write your email in a way that applies to people who already know you AS WELL AS new prospects.

Your emails should:

  • Be personalized and targeted
  • Get to the point quickly
  • Ensure easy appointment booking

Make sure your email looks personal to the recipient by starting with “Hi {FirstName}” – always use their name to create that feeling of familiarity. We have loads of great email tips in our blog 3 email marketing mistakes to avoid.

Then you’ll want to get to the point so say “I’ll be in {your location} next Tuesday {date} and I’d love to drop in and talk about our new product for your {application}“. You’ll have certainly wanted to group your targets into applications so that you can mention that application in the email so it reads well whether they are a customer or not. Again, you are making it more personal by mentioning their application.

The next bit is very important – you want to maximize your meetings with the minimum number of emails. The best way to do this is to reduce the number of choices people have by offering a limited number of appointment slots so say “I only have a couple of slots remaining, would you prefer morning or afternoon?”. This makes them feel like they are missing out if they don’t grab a slot and gives the appearance that you are a scarce resource. It is also proven that giving people too many choices hinders their decision-making ability.

So the full email would read:

Hi {FirstName},

I’ll be in {your location} next Tuesday {date} and I’d love to drop in and talk about our new product for your {application}.

I only have a couple of slots remaining, would you prefer morning or afternoon?

Kind regards,

Peter Campbell

Tip: Don’t send your emails out too far in the future, people won’t know their schedules that far in advance so won’t want to commit and it gives them too long to reply – you want to create a sense of urgency. At Scileads, we find that a week to a week and a half beforehand is perfect.

For example, if you’re going on the Monday then send it the Tuesday before, and that gives time for one follow-up on the Thursday. One follow-up is enough to remind the people who forgot to reply the first time, we wouldn’t recommend doing anymore as you don’t want to bother people. Just a quick “Hey {FirstName}, does Tuesday suit?” would suffice.

For the tradeshow attendees, you can be even more targetted because you know where they’ll be and when so you can email them and say that you too will be at the event. You can ask them to call past your booth in the morning or invite them to meet you at a certain time in the afternoon, or vice versa. A good way to organize meetups is to divide up your time – notify your list about when you’ll be at your booth and they can drop by when suits them, but also block out some time for focussed 1-2-1s and give those people a link to book a time slot themselves via Calendy or Chilli Piper. See our blog on productivity tools for other great software for sales teams.

Step 4 – Check for reference customers

Anytime you are giving a customer discount on an order ALWAYS say it’s in return for being a reference customer. Why? Because you can take advantage of it now…

If you have a reference customer in an institution then you can camp out in their lab and borrow their equipment for a few hours. Invite the potential clients in the building to that lab and ask them to bring their samples if that’s relevant. This not only gives them convenient hands-on time with the system but also validates that one of their colleagues is happily using the product. If you’re working through a distributor they will have the relationships with the researchers to organize this.

If you know you are meeting with a big name or KOL then you could also add this to your initial outreach email and say “I am meeting with {insert big name/KOL} at 11.00am but can be with you at 12.30 pm”. This gives some credibility and grabs attention so people will be more likely to say yes to your meeting request.

Or if you are meeting people from the same place you could say, “It won’t be too hard to find your lab coming from the Quantum Physics group” in the hope they say “oh who in Quantum Physics are you seeing?” and you can reply with “George Smith has some of our kit so I will be checking in with his group” – immediately you are up in their estimation.

Quite often you might need to add a new product to the setup, but that’s no problem, just bring that with you for the day. Allowing people to automatically book a time slot using a productivity tool like Chili Piper or Calendly will make life easier, just remember to block off some of the slots initially – again you want to make it look like you are in demand. You can then of course release some of the blocked-off slots once people start booking in.

Tip: put on a nice food spread! This is a very inexpensive way to encourage people to come to the lab. We once were allowed to bring in beer to a core facility in Denmark and you can imagine how successful that was!

Step 5 – Last minute prep

You’ll want to be well prepared before your meetings, but don’t worry about pre-qualifying anyone. These are busy people so if they’ve replied and accepted your meeting then they’ve already been self-qualified. Just go along with an open mind (and a well-rehearsed product knowledge) because even if you aren’t sure why they said yes, you might find that they have some end-of-year budget that they need to spend.

Map out everyone who said yes and give them time slots on a sensible route depending on their locations. Err on the side of too little time, inevitably someone will cancel and it’s best to not have too much downtime.

Tip: Different countries will have different customs and you will need to take the lead from your distributor on this – For example, in India, you will often spend hours with one customer so you may only get to plan 2-3 customers for one day. Or in the south of Italy, it’s customary to go for a coffee first to get to know the customer and then have the actual work meeting afterward.

If you’re doing a last-minute swot-up before stepping into the meeting and you’re a Salesforce CRM user, then you can get massive value from the SciLeads Enrich for SalesforceⓇ integration which provides a 360 view of your contacts without leaving the CRM. This allows you to quickly see very useful information for your conversation such as their recent funding status and/or publications. You can also use SciLeads Enrich for SalesforceⓇ to look up their collaborators and see who you have in common – the more you can show you’ve done your research, the better the interaction should be.

Visits by nature can be a time-consuming task but are well worth it for the ROI they bring. To do all this prep in about 10 minutes rather than 10 days, let us set you up with SciLeads trial access to plan your next visit. We will show you how to rapidly build an outreach list in your application area and can even give you some sample data to use for your campaigns.