If you are a Life Sciences vendor trying to penetrate the biotech and pharma market, below are some of the selection criteria you could, or better say should, use while doing the outbound outreach.
There are 6,000 drug development companies located in North America and Europe, and more worldwide.
Around 3,500 in the United States and Canada, and 2,500 in Europe. The vast majority of these are small biotechs (up to 100 employees), ~10% of mid-cap companies with 100 to 1,000 employees, and around 150 large pharma companies with more than 1,000 employees. The market is diverse, with companies focusing on specific areas, especially the smaller ones. I listed company-level criteria I believe should cover most of the vendors’ needs for prospecting.
Location (company HQ)
Sometimes you want to focus your efforts on a specific region, or just go after North America and Europe. Examples where we see geographic focus makes sense is when you have local representatives, or going to a conference (for example Boston area). Sometimes your services are better supported kind of locally. We work with several CROs who need to get customers’ samples shipped to their locations. And this is typically easier within the same continent.
Company size (no. of employees)
Based on your offering you might want to focus on specific sizes of companies. We see smaller CDMOs prefer to work with smaller biopharma companies as they can provide a better service as well as the procurement process with big pharma can be too complicated for their capabilities. On the other side, we have several services that are better fit for big pharma companies, because they can better support bigger teams and organizations that can actually invest the resources.
Company funding and IPO status (typically relevant for smaller companies)
Funding somewhat indicates biopharma’s ability to purchase something as well as their need to be quick. For example, if they have their programs in the preclinical or IND stage and just raised $30M, you can be fairly certain that they are entering clinics soon. When a small company raises $15M Series A and they are early in development, they might be building a virtual biopharma, which is more likely to outsource most of its operations and not build capabilities in-house.
Drug development stage
For a clinical research organization, you should approach companies with active clinical trials, or at least the ones entering clinical development soon, otherwise, they will have no interest in your services.
If your platform is supporting drug discovery process, target validation, or a better understanding of mechanism of action, you should narrow your outreach to companies with active discovery and preclinical programs.
Sometimes your offering is focused on a specific disease area, for various reasons. I see CROs supporting clinical trials in specific disease areas. If we are talking about clinical research organizations, biopharma typically prefers to work with a partner that has experience in the space as well as a good network of doctors to actually recruit the desired patient population.
Another example of disease-specific focus is a CRO developing bioassays for specific space or specific disease models, like epilepsy.
Drug modality as prospecting criteria comes into play with smaller CDMOs that focus on specific modalities, like recombinant proteins produced in E. coli, or AAV as a vector.
If your services are focused on protein conjugation, you want to focus on companies actively developing proteins as their drugs and avoid C> or small molecule companies.
Do you support specific target validation? You better focus on companies already working in the space, or at least somewhat familiar space. Let’s take KRAS as an example, you should focus your efforts on Oncology companies and not Cardiology. Especially smaller companies focus on specific disease areas where they have a strong foundation in biology understanding and ideas about their drugs.
Is your service supporting companies with small molecule design and optimization? If yes, you better avoid companies where their MoA is via enzymatic function.
Sometimes you have a strong use case with a biopharma company developing combination therapy with pembrolizumab. You might want to search for similar companies with which your use case would resonate the most.
Once you identify relevant companies you would like to approach, you should find the right employees to talk to about their pains and challenges and figure out how you can help them. When defining prospect-level criteria, keep in mind that they can be different for different versions of your offering and for different sizes of companies you plan to approach.
Below are mentioned some of the prospecting criteria you can take into account when defining your customer profiles.
We have some clients who want to approach only C-level and VP-level executives because they enter the company as a partner and need to build a relationship with top management on the biopharma side.
Sometimes the deal value defines what seniority you should approach. Is your machine worth $500.000? Then you should not go below Head level, or even Director level, as it will be hard for you to push the deal through their procurement process. The person you approach might like your solution, but they might lack the decision power and budget to approve it.
On the other hand, if you offer some bioreagents, you could approach scientists, the users of your products. They are hands-on in the labs on a daily basis and know about their project’s needs.
Are you a CDMO helping with protein production? Then you should focus your energy on CMC, Manufacturing, and process development employees within biopharma.
If you help with patient recruitment, you should focus your energy on clinical development and operations people, as they are the ones who make decisions about partners for clinical trials.
For each line of your product/service think about who are your end users, and who are the buyers/decision-makers so you can approach the most relevant positions and get them engaged.
Similar to the company location, you should consider the prospect’s location. The best source for this is LinkedIn, where you can check for their location.
Prospect’s location can be useful within bigger organizations, where they have multiple sites and you want to focus or expand within a specific location.
Another good example can be when you are going to a conference and would like to pre-schedule some meetings while you are in the neighborhood. If you’re flying to San Diego for an event, try to find prospects living in the area and invite them for a coffee.
Prospects job description and experience
Seniority and job title are sometimes not enough to do good prospecting. Where you want to focus on something specific, you should consider searching for specific keywords and finding prospects related to them.
For example, if you are offering NGS service, you might want to double down on people that are involved in genomics and transcriptomics in their current role or at least mention that as an experience from the past.
Similarly, if you want to focus on a specific disease area, it might be hard to identify relevant people within Big Pharma. Let’s imagine you want to find people involved in cardiovascular diseases. Search for pharma prospects presenting at specific conferences, go through their current job descriptions, their past experience, and their Ph.D. If they focused on the Oncology or Neuroscience space throughout their entire career, it is less likely to be working in the Cardiovascular space now.
There are various prospecting criteria you can use to prepare a good list of prospects you believe you can help. Some might be easier to leverage than others, so you should always try to estimate the importance of each criteria you want to use.
What is your ideal customer profile? Let us know and we’ll be happy to provide you a good estimation of your market size.