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December 03, 2015
Reinventing the salesforce—a new role for pharmaceutical sales reps
By: James Crowley

With new skills and digital technologies, pharmaceutical sales reps can deliver innovative solutions that help doctors provide better patient outcomes.

Pharmaceutical companies have an unprecedented opportunity to redefine and reinvent the concept of sales. By replacing traditional sales models with sales and service models that help stakeholders achieve their objectives, pharma companies can take their interactions with buyers to the next level.

To navigate this transition, we recommend companies take the following four steps:

  1. Address the needs of the broader network

    A re-invigorated sales capability requires a change to the traditional sales culture. Instead of the sales team visiting doctors to share information, they need to focus on addressing the needs of the broader network of buyers and influencers.

    For pharma companies, this means evaluating the marketplace to identify opportunities for the sales organization to add value, while ensuring they don’t introduce regulatory and compliance risk. This, in turn, requires the sales organization to work with marketing and other functional areas to develop tools, services and programs that stakeholders notice and value. Coordination and collaboration among sales resources and between sales and non-sales functions are critical.

  2. Evolve skills of existing reps

    Meeting the needs of doctors, integrated delivery networks (IDN), group practices and other pharma customers requires companies to re-think their traditional sales roles, introduce new roles and responsibilities, and strategically deploy sales resources. To support a flexible customer engagement model, companies will need to “upskill” existing sales reps so they are able to elevate and extend the conversations they have with doctors and other stakeholders.

    Companies will also need to invest in new messaging, new assets and digital tools designed to enhance patient outcomes, and gain a comprehensive understanding of healthcare and training in areas such as IDN business strategies, outcome metrics and healthcare incentive management.

  3. Introduce new sales talent

    It is likely that pharma companies will need to hire new resources with strong business-to-business sales skills. They will need key account managers to manage relationships with institutional purchasing organizations and to connect conversations across a non-linear, networked sales environment. These individuals have a skill set few pharma reps currently have. They are:

    • Experts at agile selling

    • Capable of extending a company’s reach by working with intermediaries, channel partners, customers and even competitors

    • Highly adept at identifying or creating new sales opportunities, and managing those opportunities through the sales pipeline

  4. Amplify the impact of human sales interactions with digital technologies

    Fortunately, companies don’t need to choose between digitizing their sales experiences and optimizing their face-to-face sales capabilities. But they do need to determine how they can use digital technologies to make pharma sales teams more relevant than ever. Sales reps already use mobile applications to track customer accounts, trigger alerts and manage relationships in a variety of ways. There’s no reason these applications can’t be tailored to enhance the face-to-face experiences and deliver even more value.

    For example, if sales reps know that a doctor’s performance is measured on adherence to treatment protocols or hospital re-admissions, digitally enabled “task pathways” can guide the reps to pull up a tailored set of products and solutions that can help satisfy those goals—all within seconds.

    The most successful pharmaceutical sales teams in the future will be those willing to define and service customers in new ways. They will understand the needs of their increasingly diverse customer base and use digital advances to change the conversation and position themselves as team members committed to helping physicians improve patient outcomes.

To learn more, download the full report: The Rebirth of the Pharmaceutical Sales Force

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