I have often heard scientists say that they are “immune” to marketing. We disagree. Scientists are people just like everyone else. They absorb information through the same senses, and the neurons they use to understand new concepts work the same way, no matter what discipline they studied or where they got their doctorate.

Some scientists love data and detail, it’s true. Others don’t. But when it comes to understanding new information, scientists’ brains work pretty similarly to everyone else’s. They need to understand the big picture before they can absorb all the little details. They need an “armature of understanding” off of which they can hang all the textured details. They need clarity.

If you think about it, this progression from “big picture” to “small detail” is the same path that scientists travel as they learn science in school. They don’t start by studying siRNA. They start by learning about cells and cell functions, and then looking at the different components of the cell, and then DNA and RNA, and then, and only then, do they begin to study and understand siRNA.

Everyone, regardless of discipline, has to build knowledge by first learning the big picture, and then adding the details. In anatomy, the entire organism will fall apart without a skeleton to support the individual components (organs, muscles, etc). So too with helping individuals understand new material, such as the rationale behind why one particular piece of diagnostic equipment would be better than another, or why one CRO would be a better choice than another. You have to start with the big picture, and only once the big picture is understood can the smaller details make sense. Hierarchy is important in communication and marketing.

Many scientists who are selling believe that to increase the likelihood of closing the sale, scientists who are buying will need all the details. That may be true for some scientists, but it won’t be true for every one. And whether a buyer needs all the details is a separate question from how those details are presented. Flooding a prospect with details without first providing them an understanding of the big picture is the surest way to close down the sale, not close it.