Life Sciences Trends: Nuancing the Go-to-Market Model

By: Alex Tolmasoff Life Sciences, Revenue Growth Strategy, Sales Coverage, Sales Transformation

As revenue leaders grapple with disruptive changes in the life sciences industry, we see the emergence of innovative and nuanced go-to-market models with a more targeted go-to-customer approach.

Besides addressing nuanced application and product needs and delivering effective channel options, revenue leaders, GMs and CEOs are refocusing on specific customer needs, the spotlight of this first article in a series on life sciences trends.

TREND 1: Segment Needs To Guide Go-to-Customer Design
Leaders are focused on new growth segments, no longer simply the academic research world. In the past, scientist sellers called on leading scientists in their fields with plenty of grant money resources. It was (and continues to be) a PhD-to-PhD conversation. While the research segment has cooled to some extent, companies still need to nurture this large and stable base business.

However, research is not going to deliver the 5-10 points of growth that CEOs and shareholders demand. Instead leaders are looking to applied markets, such as clinical, forensics and environmental, to drive new growth. Applied markets are littered with buyers who are not PhD scientists, but may include lab techs, procurement, or even the CFO or COO. These buyers are quite different and require the seller to understand new buyer journeys and value propositions in order to win their business.

As a result, you cannot go to battle with the same army. Companies need different sales and marketing people and new resources. For example, many organizations are hiring teams of strategic account managers who can manage large globally distributed relationships, develop sophisticated business cases and demonstrate enterprise-level problem solving. In this model, scientist sellers become technical product overlays and value-added advisors to customers; these scientists still sell the application and performance to ensure successful implementation, but they also provide application support. Your company may require a different field service model and supporting infrastructure than what is expected in research. Service technicians need to be highly responsive when serving clinical customers—often lives are literally at risk.

TREND 2: Geographic Segments Have Unique Dynamics and Require Aligned Models

What works in the U.S., Europe or Asia Pacific does not necessarily work in other geographies. Go-to-market models need to match customer demands, channel dynamics, government funding structure and local regulatory requirements. For example, the U.S. clinical market is distinct from the publicly funded European market. As a result, how you sell into each geography and market segment is specific. Leaders should consider buying preferences, headcount, resource types and language requirements. It may not be possible to capture the full market potential in an individual country: in smaller countries, organizations often must keep their sellers as “generalists” and cannot afford technical specialization.

To meet this challenge, companies are going beyond the basic account management framework to go to market cost effectively. While customers in key segments may need dedicated and high quality account management, the model may be expensive and unrealistic in many markets. For example, some companies remove account managers in smaller European countries because customers really value the language and technical specialization far more than a single point of contact.

It is a mistake to put in one global model. Companies that do so inevitably put market-specific models in place. Ultimately the company needs to show a depth of understanding of what customers want, as well as the coverage model that matches the revenue motions needed to execute and satisfy customer needs.

Stay tuned as we share additional trends and contemporary responses to market challenges in future articles.

In the meantime, you can learn more about Alexander Group’s Life Sciences practice and how we can help you navigate sales transformation. Or schedule an individualized briefing with our life sciences practice leaders, Matt Greenstein and Arshad Carim.

Watch the overview and other videos in this series.

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Alex Tolmasoff

Alex Tolmasoff is a manager in the San Francisco office. His primary expertise is in sales and marketing strategy, product management, sales training and project management. His previous client engagements include start-up go-to-market strategies and new business initiatives with Fortune 500 companies.

Prior to joining the Alexander Group, Alex spent two years working in sales operations at McKesson where he focused on sales effectiveness benchmarking, process improvement and sales training. Prior to McKesson, Alex worked for five years in product management and sales operations at Medtronic. Prior to this, he founded a highly successful charter school in California. Alex holds an MBA from the University of California, Berkeley Haas School of Business, and a B.S. in molecular biology from University of California, Berkeley.