Is your pharma sales force effective post-pandemic?

Paid partnership with Star OUTiCO

Smart organisations don’t just invest in technology, they invest in people. Kevin Lennon explains how to make the pharma sales force effective post-pandemic.

It is one thing to make changes to your business, and adapt to a changing world, but it is your people who will determine your success. Right now, being sales force effective is not just about harnessing the latest tools and technology, but also about getting the right combination of skills and attitude to make them impactful for your brands. There has never been a more important time to deploy emotionally intelligent, trusted advisors who engage with the healthcare professional (HCP), to their preferred style; whatever that preference is.

Start with why

One of the critical factors to digital success is the mindset of the people within your organisation. If your team can think like a digital business, they can help to re-build the strategy.

If you have a team of people who are fixed in their mindset, for example, then you need to help guide them to a growth mindset, so they will become open and able to change.

Individual motivation for sales reps comes from having a strong reason why – and genuine belief that they need to embrace digital technology to enhance their ability to engage more effectively with their customers. Those that do not believe that customers are open to digital change, or that they can sell using different platforms, will certainly get left behind or considered ‘old-fashioned’.

For sales team success, you will need buy-in from every employee, and every department in your organisation. It is not just about replacing some services with a digital process, there needs to be some significant changes in business culture too.

Face-to-face activity is likely to return in some shape, but when, and to what extent, is up for debate. Therefore, the competency of the organisation and sales team must change. The industry has dipped its toe into the digital world, and whilst the NHS is ready, many organisations are only at the beginning of their digital journey.

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Skills in demand

With the ongoing changes and ever-evolving technical landscape, you need adaptable people, now more than ever. Earlier this year, a LinkedIn study1 found that the five most in-demand soft skills for 2020 are creativity, persuasion, collaboration, adaptability, and emotional intelligence.

With our experience in multichannel communication, we have recognised a similar soft skill set necessary to succeed in the digital world. Of course, effective communication is a given but also: open-mindedness, self-direction, intuition, and solution-focused traits are essential for success in this fast-moving arena.

Embrace multi-channel

Strong business acumen and excellent negotiation skills, of course, will remain important but to keep pace with the HCPs of today, sales reps need to engage successfully across all available channels. An approach that works for one HCP may not work for another. Some will enjoy face-to-face meetings, whilst others may prefer a screen share teleconference. It is about treating people as individuals, intuitively recognising their preference, and adapting behaviour to suit. Sequential use of all appropriate channels increases selling touchpoints, increasing selling time, and will enhance the customer experience.

Harness new technologies

We have seen how healthcare professionals can be open to different modes of communication. Video conferencing allows reps to have a conversation, as well as evaluating facial expressions and body language. Screen sharing is an engaging and easy way to share important documents and discuss valuable information, and email is both quick and efficient.

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Actively listen

To set themselves apart, sales reps need to offer more than simply e-detailing alone. Gone are the days of generic data presentations – these brand value propositions should only form one part of a much richer process. E-detailing doesn’t provide the opportunity to tailor a message accordingly. Instead, sales reps must have the ability to really listen and interpret what is important to the HCP, and truly understand the needs of both the customer and their patients.

Delivering key selling messages to a customer without understanding their priorities will not necessarily drive a change in prescribing behaviour.

The pandemic has had a dramatic effect on healthcare, where we witnessed 10 years of change in one week. It has shown how quickly the pharmaceutical industry can adapt to using technology to enhance traditional channels, but will its sales teams? We know that there will be winners and losers in healthcare, but with the right mindset, adaptable skills, and intelligent insights, you can be ahead of the pack.

Kevin Lennon, Business Unit Director, Star OUTiCO. Kevin has over 17 years of industry experience, with a demonstrated history of leading teams to effectively operate in the multi-channel space, an area he is passionate about.

Star OUTiCO – built for a world in-flux

The world is in the grip of transformational change. We believe you either stagnate or evolve. So, we put our heads together and chose the latter, bringing the capabilities and talent of Star Medical and OUTiCO together.

Star Medical has a sterling reputation as the leading provider of insight-driven commercial sales solutions, and as a recruiter of note for pharmaceutical sales, marketing, medical devices and market access roles at all levels.

OUTiCO was the first multichannel sales company communicating with healthcare professionals via their preferred sales channel. This multi-channel approach to brand engagement has allowed OUTiCO to prove commercial outcomes and lead the way in this space.

When you share a vision, and your offerings complement one another, the answer was simple. Join forces and multiply the positive impact we make. 

For the industry: 360° intelligence-led, digitally-enabled sales services for a pharmaceutical product’s full commercial lifecycle, harnessing real-world insights to generate business impact and improve vital patient outcomes.

For our candidates: Access to the best vacancies across Pharma Sales, Med Devices, Market Access, Executive, Marketing & Commercial Support, and Nursing and Healthcare sectors, working with teams that match candidates with their perfect position.

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This article was previously published in Pf Magazine.