Tips on securing introductory meetings

Tips on choosing the best time to reach out to pharma people for an introductory meeting

Across most industries, and certainly in the life sciences, it’s common to use LinkedIn as a source for making new professional connections. But many struggle with finding the right time to make those connections. After all, you want to engage people when they are in work mode, but not when they are too busy to consider your request to network.

LinkedIn members are, by and large, happy to connect with new people for the purpose of professional networking, which makes it an excellent resource for connecting with people who could potentially become new customers. In the life sciences, we have perceived – anecdotally – an even greater readiness to network, which might be due to the fact that life sciences professionals appreciate that you never know where your next opportunities may come from. But timing is key, as is ensuring the outreach is low key and not hard sales; that it is genuine networking with a real mutual interest.

Picking the right time of day

Pre-COVID – and likely as businesses get back to a more normal office routine – we found that a good time to reach out to people was during the daily commute, at least for those people commuting by train. This is a time when professionals may not want to engage with their work email, but because they are partially in work mode, they are happy to check LinkedIn before they become preoccupied with the stresses of the business day. They see LinkedIn as adjacent to their professional interests, so if they see a message from someone they might have a professional connection with or with whom they would be happy to network, the daily commute is a good time to make initial contact and, where relevant, agree to set up a meeting during normal work hours.

The same principle applies to the first workday back after the Christmas break. We believe that's because people procrastinate before they get back into the world of proper work, and, as such, they are willing to engage with these adjacent professional interests before getting bogged down in deadlines again.

How then, do you build that outreach into actual calls or meetings? Two periods we have found to be effective at setting up meetings with new LinkedIn contacts are July, when most people in Europe and the UK are preparing to go on holiday, and December. In both cases, the message is, “let’s meet when you’re back” – either from the summer holiday or early in the new year. Both are periods when people are winding down and the new year or after the summer holiday seems like a far-off place, so people are happy to book time with you. For those returning from summer breaks or the lull over August, there is a sense that it’s a fresh start and everyone is getting back into their routine and are happy to engage.

Managing peaks and troughs

There is another important consideration, which is that because pharma, like many industries, runs on a January to December budget cycle, companies often find they have pockets of budget they need to use up before the end of the year. That’s another reason why the post-summer period is a good time to set up meetings with new contacts. However, there is a caveat: this is often the busiest time of year for consultancies, with clients wanting everything wrapped up before Christmas. So, how do you use this valuable time to reach out to new contacts while staying focussed on the huge workload you are dealing with from October to December?

This is where Gatehouse can step in. Our business now has three experienced sales directors with consultancy backgrounds, who can take on the burden of chasing new contacts and setting up meetings while you are busy meeting end-of-year deadlines. We call this “the Gatehouse effect” because when you are busy with that peak period, we can help mitigate the troughs by helping to keep the pace of new business in January, a traditionally quiet period for business. That’s because our intelligence tells us that introductory meetings typically result in business three months down the line, so meetings you have in the last quarter of the year are not to expand work for October to December, but to lay the groundwork for the first quarter of the new year.

There is an irony here, in that you may feel too busy to engage with us this quarter. However, our message is that this is the very reason you need us. Consider us as a contracted sales director (actually a team of sales directors). We can take the lead generation off your shoulders, ensuring you don’t lose momentum on projects for the year ahead. While many people could undertake these activities themselves, it is the time constraints of reaching out to people consistently and persistently, following through to outcome, that is likely to limit you. This, combined with our proven formula for messages that strike the right networking (not hard sales) tone, and campaign optimisation by sales directors from your industry -- is our unique selling proposition.

Find out how we can help you keep your foot on the accelerator while staying focussed on your end-of-year workload.