How to Balance Pharma Sales Quotas with Pharma Patient Experience
Kimberly Brue | March 28, 2022
Successful pharma sales reps serve as educators, advisors, and trusted colleagues all rolled into one. Pharma 3.0 reps must not only excel at sales, but also read up on clinical research, stay abreast of changing rules and regulations, network with physicians and arrange appointments, and keep track of constantly changing technology. If that sounds like a lot, it's probably because it is - and often, it's only the beginning of what's required.
Pharma 3.0 models tend to focus on value (instead of products). This can include goals like:
- Improving the patient experience - through education, medication adherence, etc.
- Expanding market access - serving new markets and newly insured patients.
- Addressing unmet medical needs - providing treatment for chronic/complex conditions.
For sales reps in Pharma 3.0, the aim is not just to work towards sales objectives, but also to improve patient outcomes. In other words, it's not about convincing prescribers that your products work, but about partnering with providers to provide maximum value for patients. Of course, most reps still have quotas to meet. Figuring out how to balance business goals by creating a great patient experience can be challenging. However, shifting your focus from BRAND to OUTCOMES doesn't have to mean sacrificing sales productivity. In many cases, Pharma 3.0 objectives are actually the key to accessing new markets, improving patient health, getting ahead of competing organizations, and exceeding sales targets.
Here's How To Balance A Great Pharma Patient Experience With Your Growing Sales Quotas:
Work With Prescribers to Focus on What Really Matters: Patient Health
Physicians are too busy to talk, and most of them are tired of getting visits from sales reps. In the past, drug reps were among the best sources of information on new treatments. Now, with digital access to the latest studies and much less exposure to reps during their training, the current generation of prescribers is increasingly wary of pharma sales. Doctors are allowing fewer and fewer pharma reps into their offices every year.
According to recent research:
- More than half of doctors 1 now restrict visits from sales reps (compared to less than a quarter in 2008).
- Among oncologists, 73 percent were "accessible" in 2013, but by 2015, only 25 percent were open to pharma sales reps.
- Over one-fifth of doctors 2 are completely closed to visits from sales reps.
These numbers aren't expected to get any better. Instead of fighting tooth and nail for what little face-time is left, it makes more sense for companies transitioning to Pharma 3.0 models to use this increased gate-keeping as an opportunity for a bigger paradigm shift. Like pharma, medicine is transitioning to models which prioritize patient outcomes - value - over business success. This is a chance for sales reps to work with providers to meet the shared goal of better patient health.
For starters, instead of just explaining brand features during sales calls, pharmaceutical companies need to create immersive customer experiences, by:
- Focusing on how products impact patient health and keeping this messaging consistent across all communication.
- Supplementing face-to-face interactions with communicating through other channels.
- Crafting personalized approaches for different markets, sometimes segmented down to the level of individual clinics or doctors.
- Engaging target audiences by adding value and building relationships which extend beyond an initial face-to-face interaction.
All of these methods help create deeper relationships with providers, which translate into both improved patient outcomes and better sales productivity over time.
Use the Digital World to Your Advantage
In a world in which nearly everyone, including both physicians 3 and patients4, is on the web every day, digital channels are increasingly crucial to pharma sales success.
Alternatives to face-to-face sales such as inside sales, email, and virtual real-time dialogue all help communicate with potential customers the way they want to be reached. Digital channels also help:
- Reach new or untapped markets.
- Improve the quality of customer interactions.
- Amplify messaging through repetition, keeping your brand top of mind.
To help influence thinking within their areas of expertise, sales reps need to stay current on how people are getting information, and then show up in those channels.
At a minimum, this strategy includes:
- Ensuring up-to-date information about your products is readily available on the web.
- If you aren't already, making yourself available digitally.
- Testing different digital channels on different markets to find out what works for your type of provider/market.
- Using digital tools to create more interactive presentations and engage physicians.
- Using digital tools to make sure all your channels are supporting each other.
Digitally literate sale reps are an increasingly valuable resource. Staying current helps ensure value for pharma companies, physicians, and patients alike.
It also helps extend your knowledge by making it accessible to people where they already are - this helps increasingly competitive pharma offerings stand out better in a crowded marketplace.
Individuate Sales Approaches
In order to deliver better patient outcomes, sales reps need to have an in-depth understanding of patient needs, with specifics down to particular specialty, region, and practice. As those needs change over time, creating an adaptive strategy also helps position sales reps as valuable sources of information and services which support physicians' desired patient outcomes. Segmentation which takes into account small details about prescribers does more than simply optimize patient outcomes: it also helps sales reps allocate time and resources efficiently. Knowing who has the biggest needs is key to meeting sales targets, but also to finding underserved markets and tailoring sales approaches to fit specific practices.
Create Relationships Which Extend Past the Point of Sale
Experimental selling provides opportunities to establish continuous engagement. Emotional connection adds critical value to pharma-prescriber relationships. Providers are willing, and in fact are even demanding, broader contact with pharmaceutical companies through channels like:
- Social websites.
- Disease advocacy groups and online forums.
- Educational websites provided by pharmaceutical companies.
This openness gives pharma reps an unprecedented opportunity today to connect with pharma 3.0 stakeholders - from physicians and hospitals to insurance companies - at multiple points of contact. Deepening your insight into actual patient needs through re-engagement past the point of prescription helps drive brand loyalty, deliver better outcomes, and guide future sales interactions.
Extending relationships with prescribing physicians beyond a sales call also help amplify your message without taxing doctors' time.
How to Effectively Leverage These Strategies? In Short: Data
All of these tactics rely on the production and analysis of data.
At a bare minimum, you probably have:
- Information about prescribers - who is prescribing, how much, and when.
- What patients need and want - and how this is changing over time.
- How and when potential customers have been contacted previously.
Sorting through and organizing all of this information manually to produce actionable insights requires significant time and energy. Furthermore, many reps don't have the time or want the mathematical know-how to analyze data surrounding customer experience. This is an area where digital tools can greatly simplify the customer relationship management (CRM) process and make it accessible. Beyond web portals and email communication networks, advanced AI software can provide a significant leg up when it comes to balancing sales and patient outcome priorities.
Machine learning products, for example, can learn to automate segmentation processes, providing real-time information about which providers want which products.
Software apps can also keep track of sales territories and sales team communication in one place, while AI-supported CRM tools can also help integrate communication channels, automatically keeping track of what has been communicated to providers, as well as how and when.
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Balancing Pharma 3.0 Objectives with Sales Quotas Doesn't Have to Be Difficult
The emerging dynamic between sales staff, providers, and patients can be a complex balancing act. It also has the potential to make the pharma sales more rewarding, both personally and from a commercial standpoint. Sales reps today have the unique ability to access multiple points of the customer journey and hear first-hand accounts of how the products you represent can impact patients' lives. Pharma 3.0 does mean significant changes are underway. However, with the right tools, meeting sales objectives doesn't have to be incompatible with delivering improved patient experiences and outcomes. When done right, shifting from sales volume to sales value is a win-win for patients and sales bottom-lines alike.
Interested in learning more about the benefits of data analytics for boosting sales performance and improving pharma patient experiences ? Get in touch with us today to learn more about how AI could help magnify and streamline your sales operations.