Startup companies have a lot of challenges. Getting new leads and closing the first couple of deals? Well, they’re at the top of the list.
But more on that in a second. Let me introduce myself first – I’m Steve 👋
As the Head of Sales at LabVoice, I’ve been trying to find new ways to overcome these challenges in one of the most competitive markets around – life sciences. Those of us in the life sciences world know that enterprise deals get closed after long sales cycles – anywhere from 12-24 months. And on top of that, we’re all competing for the business of the same big 50 companies in the industry.
While dabbling in ways to make our cold outreach successful, we’ve managed to find a winning model. Through a mix of personalization, conversational email, and automated Email Bots, we’ve connected with some of the country’s biggest life sciences companies, as well as smaller biotech companies that are at the forefront of industry innovation. And we’ve also generated six-figures in pipeline in the process.
By the way – You may already know this, but the life sciences industry tends to be pretty…private. I’ll be using estimates as opposed to actual figures from here on out.
By focusing on highly targeted, personalized email campaigns, we’ve managed to cut through the noise and start conversations with leads who were about to sign with competitors – and chose us instead.
And in this post, I’m going to break down exactly how we got it done.
Hang on, What Is LabVoice?
At LabVoice, our mission is to change the way scientists work in their labs.
Our product, in a nutshell, is a voice assistant designed specifically for the everyday needs of people working in a laboratory. When scientists are working, they’re gloved up and sanitized, which makes it difficult for them to move from their microscope to their computer to input data. The risk of cross-contamination is just too high (and it also takes up a lot of their time).
So, we came up with LabVoice. It gives scientists a way to input results and research using just their voice, leaving their hands free to continue their work uninterrupted.
While we think our product fills a much-needed gap in today’s labs, from a selling point of view, we still need to communicate just how our product can help a scientist when they’re in the lab. So, we built a three-pronged sales approach that shows how much value LabVoice can add by focusing on:
✉️ Conversational emails
🎯 Creating highly targeted and personalized campaigns
🤝 Extending a human experience from marketing to sales
Here’s how it works.
Strategy #1: Adopting Conversational Email ✉️
When we first started sending cold emails to life sciences companies, we made them shiny and fancy.
Looking back, this was the wrong move. You see, our first batches of outreach emails were highly stylized, HTML templates with a “click here” CTA at the bottom to drive leads. Sure, they looked good…but they weren’t bringing in the engagement I was hoping for.
After some head-scratching, the reason why dawned on me.
Our emails looked like a shiny catalog you get in the mail – and that you promptly toss into the recycling bin. We needed to turn our emails into something more personal – like the letters you get from family or friends that you want to open right away. It was this realization that encouraged me to make the switch from HTML emails to plain text, conversational emails that would engage our buyers by simply asking for a reply.
By making this shift to conversational marketing, we hoped to move away from just going after clicks and start having meaningful discussions with potential customers. And we’re not alone in using this strategy. Research from Marketo found plain text emails had a 17% higher clickthrough rate than HTML emails. A more recent cold email study by Drift found a similar trend. Of 290 emails sent by SDRs and marketers, 87% of the most successful ones were plain text without fancy formatting or CTAs.
Once we made the switch from HTML to plain text – something clicked. We used conversational email to get our foot in the door with leads and then paired it up with Drift’s Email Bots to make sure every lead got a reply.
Here’s an example of what one of our cold outreach emails looks like:
What do you notice?
To begin, we added in a lead’s first name to make the email more personal. Then, we dive right into how our product could help them in their lab (which is also named, if we have the details in our database). These are two things you’re probably doing already.
So that leads me to our biggest win with this email. The last line – when are you free next?
This is where the rubber really hits the road. This question starts a conversation with the lead. Because if a lead engages with the email, our Email Bot uses AI to interpret their reply using natural language processing.
This means when our Email Bot replies for us, it doesn’t sound like a robotic, automated response – it looks at the language that’s already being used in the email thread. The bot uses this language and responds to our leads based on intent. It also helps that we’ve “humanized” our bots by giving them names. In fact, I’m the identity of the LabVoice bot, which not only makes the conversation with a lead more human, but if they want to see if I exist in real life, all they have to do is Google my name.
Once the lead starts a conversation, every email between our bot and the new lead is threaded and kept in the same thread, so our sales team can jump in at any time.
Strategy #2: Creating Highly Targeted + Personalized Campaigns 🎯
The next strategy we have been using to generate deals in our pipeline is personalization.
Targeting life sciences companies is tough because the industry is competitive. Obviously, we needed to find a way to make our product stand out, but we also wanted to cut down on the (insanely) long sales cycle that comes with the industry. We knew the more targeted and personalized we could make our campaigns, the more chance we’d have of cutting down the time it took us to turn a lead into a paying customer.
I’m happy to report that early signs are promising. Smaller accounts are averaging 45 days, and enterprise accounts are taking between 90 to 120 days to close. We’ve managed to do this because each of the campaigns we send out is targeted and tailored for specific companies and users, thanks to the power of account-based marketing.
Let’s break down how this worked in one of our recent campaigns called Scientist Outreach 🔬
The campaign targeted 126 prospects who had one thing in common – they were scientists. At the end of the campaign, we had sent a total of 475 emails, of which 28 were opened, and 2 got replies.
A breakdown of our Scientist Outreach campaign
Thanks to our targeted campaign and the use of our Email Bot, both of those replies turned into opportunities.
The first scientist we targeted was already working with one of our main competitors, but our outreach campaign opened the door for them to test out LabVoice. Although we’re still in the closing stages of this deal, it’s valued in the mid-five-figures.
The second opportunity we hooked from this campaign was a bigger fish – an enterprise company. The scientist we targeted happened to be a director who responded to our cold email and interacted with our Email Bot. Anyone in sales knows just how rare this is. We usually need to make a bunch of calls and get past gatekeepers to even talk to a decision-maker, so this was a great indicator that adopting a conversational approach was working.
After some back-and-forth emails, we ended up on a 20-minute call with the director, who then demoed the product before taking it back to other stakeholders in the company. This added another five-figures to our pipeline.
Before moving on to the #3 strategy we use, I just want to go into a little more detail about how this particular campaign worked. Although it created two amazing opportunities for our pipeline, the real interest from leads came when we sent out the third email in our outreach sequence:
After a spike in opens after our first email, the third email in our outreach sequence got the most attention.
If you look at the trend line there, our third email is sent roughly 20 days after our first attempt at cold outreach. Here’s what that email looks like:
As you can see, we’re packing a lot of content and information into this one. After all, this will be the last email a potential lead will see before we send them a final email to round out the sequence. The spike in activity and replies after our third email is a good reminder of just how important it is for campaign sequences to have multiple emails that are threaded together in the same conversation. Not only does this give your campaign some continuity and relevance, but it also shows your potential lead that you’re not just sending out individual blast emails.
Strategy #3: Extending a Human Experience from Marketing to Sales 🤝
Finally, the last part of our campaign strategy right now is humanizing our conversation with leads and prospects.
The advancements in tech and our Email Bots have made this a lot easier for our sales team. When someone does reply to one of our emails, our Email Bot immediately interprets their reply and responds to them in a timely way. But our Email Bots do more than just reply – they can send a piece of content, register you for a webinar, and even CC in a rep to give more information or a demo.
An example of our Email Bot in action
Here’s how we used this tech to humanize another one of our recent campaigns, which we called PharmaCo IT Outreach.
Our goal was to build momentum in targeted accounts by reaching new contacts. So, we targeted a single company through a bunch of different targeted campaigns by playing the role of a BDR. We followed the activities of the people we were targeting in the campaign and used them to personalize and humanize our outreach.
People started talking about LabVoice and were even forwarding our emails to their teammates throughout the company. And with that, we had achieved a major goal of the campaign – creating momentum at the lab ✅
This campaign differed from our earlier one that targeted scientists. Instead of asking to book a meeting, we were trying to start a conversation by asking who we should talk to at the company instead. As we had already created some discussion and momentum about LabVoice within the company’s team, we were confident that if we could get on a call with a decision-maker, our product would hold more weight.
Although the company was in discussions with a competitor when we targeted them, they’re now evaluating LabVoice as an alternative. This deal added another five-figures to our pipeline.
Using Email Bots Leads to Real Success
At LabVoice, we’re excited about how companies can use tech and AI to make their lives easier and get more stuff done. It’s one of the main reasons we built our product in the first place.
For us, the emergence of Email Bots has given us a way to humanize our automated marketing campaigns without our leads feeling like they’re talking to a robot. Instead, we can share content using bots, book demos, and strike when the iron is hot – because our humans are there to close the deal 💰
Steve McCoy is the Head of Sales at LabVoice.