Our previous blog detailed the ideal structure of sales data and insightful questions to ask during comprehensive pipeline reviews. Once all historical and current sales data has been gathered and analyzed, it is powerful to inform future commercial programs. When developing a focused and effective commercial strategy, the most difficult questions are where to focus your efforts and where to surrender. With careful analysis and the guidance provided below, the data gathered through the process outlined in our previous blog will inform those decisions.
If an analysis of your historical and current sales data revealed stagnant opportunities, lack of returning customers, or long sales cycles, it indicates a chance to pivot and further optimize your commercial strategy. If your sales data uncovers an opportunity for growth, consider the following causes that biotechnology companies must address to maximize traction and success:
- Choose the right collaborators
- ID and eliminate segments were opportunities stagnate
- Stop chasing unicorns
- Support your customers
Choosing the Right Collaborators:
Collaborators are an essential component to demonstrate feasibility and choosing the right partners can be challenging. When partnering with collaborators, it can be tempting to provide samples or reagents that natural customers will not have, but this can result in the commercialization of technologies that are not viable for the target market and eventually in lost opportunities.
An effective collaborator should represent the target market and application that the company is pursuing and can provide practice for the company and sales teams to support a customer through their entire sales cycle. The collaborator’s work must include the upstream and downstream processes, demonstrating how the technology fits into an existing and complete workflow and solves a problem that future users can apply.
Where Are We Stagnating, Why, and What Do We Do About It?
Are there open opportunities in your pipeline that represent customers who have disengaged during the sales process? Is your average sales cycle longer than expected? When we discover many stagnant opportunities in the pipeline, it indicates one of two problems: the technology solves a problem of direct benefit to the end user but that is a lower priority to the organization or that the sales team is unaware of existing customer challenges.
Looking for Stagnant Opportunities:
It is tempting to keep opportunities open in the sales pipeline despite their age or decreasing viability, but stagnant opportunities can obscure data. In our last blog, we recommended the evaluation of both historical and present sales data, moving opportunities that have remained open with little customer engagement into the historical segment. This data should be evaluated separately to answer the following questions:
- How old are the opportunities in your pipeline?
- Why aren’t they moving forward?
- What opportunities are not lucrative? When do you not have a solution?
- Are these obstacles technical, financial or personnel, or due to the direction of the company?
- What are the common features of stagnant opportunities?
- Are there particular market segments or applications that face technical or biological challenges?
- Should these segments be deprioritized in favor of lower risk opportunities?
- Are there substantial opportunities that stall due to a particular feature or challenge? Should it be addressed in future product development?
- Are there recent technical advances that justify re-engaging stagnant opportunities and customers?
Stagnant opportunities are often an indication that the corresponding customers are not your target market and should not be the highest priority in your pipeline. Instead, determine what factors unite the sales that are successful. How can you better serve those customers?
Stagnant opportunities can be further analyzed to inform product development plans. If specific technical challenges or missing features are preventing customers from moving down the sales funnel, addressing those concerns may increase profitability and customer adoption. Once the technical challenges are addressed, the sales team can reconnect with stagnant customers and revive stagnant opportunities.
Stop Chasing Unicorns: The Hardest Problem is Not Always the Lucrative Problem to Solve
Bigger more complicated problems seem like they would result in BIGGER, more lucrative wins. Building meaningful customer relationships and solving difficult problems are satisfying aspects of running a business, but it is important to consider the scalability and long term ROI of your commercial pipeline.
- Compare the rates of demos vs. wins in each segment. What is the percent close rate for opportunities brought forward?
- Which segments have the most profitable balance between sales cycle time, close rate and revenue?
- Showcase the technology as a tool indepent of the complex biological/problem it can solve.
- If experiments to prove the principle of the technology can’t be executed within three to five experiments within 30 days, it’s not a viable commercial market.
United BioChannel experts recommend that companies pursue opportunities where the technology fits into an existing workflow without trying to solve complex, scientific problems. For early stage technologies, prioritize establishing value in the market before pursuing novel and complex applications. Once the technology has an established customer base and is profitable, partner with additional collaborators to investigate novel scientific applications.
Supporting Your Customers:
Are you able to close customer deals, but the customers don’t continue to purchase reagents, support, or return for additional sales?
For a product to be commercially viable, it must be usable in the hands of a customer. If customers struggle with your technology, it will be up to your customer support team to guide them through their difficulty. Before taking your product to the market, it is imperative to understand the experiments performed by your collaborators and the proof points that result your team can educate new customers and adapt the technology to their needs. Training your sales and customer support team is a requirement for success, particularly when pivoting your commercial strategy to new markets and customers.
When commercializing your product, ask, can you demonstrate your scientific expertise?
- Can you appropriately support your customers throughout the process?
- Can your team guide your customer through the pipeline of preparing samples to use your biotechnology?
- Are the roles of customer support well defined?
- What roles in the organization are responsible for support and engagement?
- Eg. field service, sales, or leadership
Consider offering additional support to your customers through a specialized technical support team, marketing materials to champion instrument use, and a defined process for customer re-engagement.
How United BioChannels can help:
United BioChannels extracts actionable insights to inform commercial strategy. Our team identifies technological challenges that result in lost opportunities and identifies solutions that maximize potential revenue. We then source Key Opinion Leaders and collaborators to support those solutions, helping brands test and execute strategies that would be difficult without additional resources. UBC also tests potential messaging in novel market segments and seeds high risk markets without detracting from the company’s commercial resources. You can focus on closing the lower risk opportunities in the pipeline while UBC ensures your future success.
Additional United BioChannels Resources:
Contact our team firstname.lastname@example.org and follow us on LinkedIn for expert guidance on market strategy, positioning, and commercial success in biotechnology.