The Sales Force of the Future

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Robin Robinson

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Of all the factors that will influence how sales reps perform their jobs tomorrow, experts outline training, specialty roles, and social media as the top three that will most influence the size, strategies, and success of sales forces in the future. Training is Crucial.  As new skill sets become necessary, training will become more crucial than ever. The old sales model that entailed adding more reps to increase sales is long gone, which means the reps of the future must be better trained and have more skill sets than ever before. “More people will not translate into better sales results,” says Joseph Regan, VP, U.S. sales, at Millennium. “We will need to understand and adapt to the emerging needs of the market, which in turn will require us to redefine and sharpen the skill sets of our… Sidebar: Factors Impacting Sales Forces of Today and Tomorrow Experts Karla Anderson. Partner and Principal, Pharmaceutical & Life Sciences Advisory Practice, PricewaterhouseCoopers, which focuses on audit and assurance, tax, and advisory services in 16 key industries and provides targeted services that include — but are not limited to — human resources, deals, forensics, and consulting services. For more information, visit pwc.com. Greg Barrett. VP Marketing, Daiichi Sankyo Inc., a member of the Daiichi Sankyo Group, is dedicated to the creation and supply of innovative pharmaceutical products to address the diversified, unmet medical needs of patients in both mature and emerging markets. For more information, visit dsi.com. Dan Bobear. Executive VP, Managing Director of Client Service, Palio, a full-spectrum advertising and communications agency. For more information, visit palio.com. Sydney Clark. VP, Practice Leader, Commercial Effectiveness, IMS Health offers market intelligence products and services. For more information, visit imshealth.com, or e-mail sclark@us.imshealth.com. Jane H. Hollingsworth. CEO, NuPathe is a specialty pharmaceutical company focused on the development and commercialization of branded therapeutics for diseases of the central nervous system, including neurological and psychiatric disorders. For more information, visit nupathe.com. Nicholas Landekic. President and CEO, PolyMedix Inc. is developing novel, first-in-class therapies for serious, life-threatening, acute disorders. For more information, visit polymedix.com. Richard P. Micali. Senior VP, Sales Services, PDI provides commercialization services for established and emerging biopharmaceutical companies. For more information, visit pdi-inc.com. Frank X. Powers. President, Dudnyk is an independently owned, multichannel branding, medical marketing, and ­advertising agency. For more information, visit dudnyk.com, or e-mail fpowers@dudnyk.com. Joseph Regan. VP, US Sales, Millennium: The Takeda Oncology Company is focused exclusively in oncology to improve the treatment of cancer around the world. For more information, visit millennium.com. Mark Samuel. Managing Partner, HealthAnswers Education, Sudler & Hennessey is a global healthcare marketing and communications organization. For more information, visit sudler.com. Dean Tozer. Senior VP, Advanced BioHealing Inc. develops and commercializes living cell therapies that repair damaged human tissue and enable the body to heal itself. For more information, visit abh.com. John M. White. R.Ph. Director, Medical Science Liaisons, The Medical Affairs Company (TMAC) is a provider of strategically aligned and customized MSL programs. For more information, visit themedicalaffairscompany.com. Jay Bolling. CEO, Roska Healthcare ­Advertising is a full-service direct advertising agency with expertise in engaging prospects through communications that ­integrate data and insight-driven marketing and advertising solutions. For more ­information, visit roskahealthcare.com. Kelly Gratz. President, inVentiv Selling Accelerators, a subdivision of inVentiv ­Commercial, which is comprised of industry sales experts who bring the experience, knowledge, and skill necessary to develop and flawlessly execute successful sales strategies. For more information, visit inventivhealth.com. Rick Keefer. President and CEO, Publicis Touchpoint Solutions Inc., a provider of a comprehensive and integrated array of ­outsourced biopharma message delivery channels — field teams, virtual teams, and clinical education teams — plus full-service support solutions. For more information, visit publicistouchpointsolutions.net. Doug Mack. President, Event Support Services Rx is the parent company of Advantage Broadcast Solutions, AV Solutions, and Total Health Rewards. For more information, visit essrx.com. Richard P. Micali. Senior VP, Sales Services, PDI provides commercialization services for established and emerging biopharmaceutical companies. For more information, visit pdi-inc.com. Jay Bolling. CEO, Roska Healthcare Advertising, a full-service advertising agency with expertise in engaging prospects through ­communications that integrate data and insight-driven marketing and advertising solutions. For more information, visit roskahealthcare.com. Jay Carter. Senior VP, Director of Strategy Services, AbelsonTaylor, an independently owned full-service healthcare advertising agency. For more information, visit abelsontaylor.com. W. Scott Evangelista. Principal, National ­Commercial Practice Leader, Deloitte offers a menu of professional services delivered in an integrated, collaborative approach that cuts across all segments of the health plan, health provider, and life-sciences industries. For more information, visit deloitte.com. Dan Goldsmith. VP, Europe, Veeva Systems, a provider of SaaS-based CRM solutions for the global life-sciences industry. For more information, visit veevasystems.com. Rick KeefeR. President and CEO of Publicis Touchpoint Solutions Inc., a provider of a comprehensive and integrated array of ­outsourced biopharma message delivery channels — field teams, virtual teams, and clinical education teams — plus full-service support solutions. For more information, visit publicistouchpointsolutions.net. Sushiel Keswani. Executive Director, ­Advisory Services, Life Sciences Customer, Ernst & Young, a professional services organization, helps companies across the globe to identify and capitalize on business opportunities. For more information, visit ey.com. Jeff Laidlaw. VP, BioPath Consulting LLC, a specialty company focusing on scientific and clinical training and education of sales forces. For more information, visit biopathconsulting.com. David Ormesher. CEO, closerlook inc., a strategic marketing agency specializing in healthcare. Their structured approach to strategy, technology, and innovation helps brands build integrated marketing ­programs that deepen customer ­relationships. For more information, visit closerlook.com. Dean Tozer. Senior VP, Advanced ­BioHealing Inc., which develops and ­commercializes living cell therapies that repair damaged human tissue and enable the body to heal itself. For more information, visit abh.com. John M. White. R.Ph. MS Director, Medical Science Liaison Programs, The Medical Affairs Company (TMAC) is a provider of strategically aligned and customized MSL programs. For more information, visit themedicalaffairscompany.com. f all the factors that will influence how sales reps perform their jobs tomorrow, experts outline training, specialty roles, and social media as the top three that will most influence the size, strategies, and success of sales forces in the future. Training is Crucial As new skill sets become necessary, training will become more crucial than ever. The old sales model that entailed adding more reps to increase sales is long gone, which means the reps of the future must be better trained and have more skill sets than ever before. “More people will not translate into better sales results,” says Joseph Regan, VP, U.S. sales, at Millennium. “We will need to understand and adapt to the emerging needs of the market, which in turn will require us to redefine and sharpen the skill sets of our sales representatives.” Economic pressures on physicians are going to necessitate companies to be more selective in terms of deploying industry representatives. This will drive the industry to raise its standards on the quality and training sales representatives receive and the level of service and value they bring to physicians. “The complexity of the changing reimbursement landscape will require representatives to be much more in tune with the reimbursement nuances of their products and the larger industry to enable them to serve as resources to their customers,” says Dean Tozer, senior VP of Advanced BioHealing. “Healthcare providers are seeking information specific to their own needs and on their own schedule, yet are challenged to navigate the large sea of industry personnel who approach them every day,” says John White, R.Ph., director, medical science liaisons, The Medical Affairs Company. “With so many sales reps knocking on the door, it has become critical for a pharmaceutical company to truly distinguish itself from the current model by providing a representative who exactly meets the provider’s needs.” Richard P. Micali, senior VP, sales services, PDI, agrees that the industry must get better at matching sales resources to physician needs with more finesse and precision. “For example, highly trained specialty reps will only be used for science-intensive brands, whereas new reps will handle more routine details,” he says. “Part-time resources will be used when there’s no need for full-time coverage. And representative talent will be deployed to meet the information demands of the target or the realities of the geographic region. We’ve seen the last of the monolithic one-size-fits-all sales team applied in a vanilla strategy across the United States.” Given the changing role of the representative, company sales managers have had to take a deep look at the competencies of their existing sales organizations and evaluate whether they are ready to compete in today’s complex market. “Many companies are concluding that their existing sales forces needs to develop new competencies or enhance existing ones to more accurately reflect the selling environment and customer demands that exists today,” says Mark Samuel, managing partner, HealthAnswers Education, Sudler & Hennessey. “Where in the past, sales training departments have spent much of their time in new product training and new hire training, looking forward sales training will play a critical role to retool the sales skills to align with customer-focused selling principles,” Mr. Samuel says. “This doesn’t mean just knowing the physician and how the drug works anymore.” Additionally, he says in today’s environment, the non-physician stakeholders’ needs require sales resources with skill sets that vary significantly from the traditional physician-focused rep. “Depending on the area of focus, companies will need highly trained and skilled sales forces to tackle the complexity of specialty markets,” says Greg Barrett, VP of marketing, Daiichi Sankyo. According to Sydney Clark, VP, practice leader, commercial effectiveness, IMS, defining roles and responsibilities of these resources, their competencies and skill-sets, and how they interact externally and internally, will be critical to ensure success. “These new sales resources will require tailored processes, systems, and incentive compensation mechanisms that will allow them to work collaboratively with the various internal customer-facing resources to bring holistic solutions to their clients,” Mr. Clark adds. The most progressive pharmaceutical companies are rethinking the role of the traditional sales force in terms of size and responsibility, the complexity of the numerous specialized field-based resources looking to interact with the customer, and the growth of alternative communications channels to define a new customer relationship model. “The effectiveness of the new customer-relationship model, which is more integrated from a sales, marketing, and medical affairs customer-interaction perspective and more reliant on using customer behavior information to understand the optimal interaction model for each customer, will not be measured in terms of the size of the company’s sales force but instead on the impact of the collective customer interactions on product sales,” says Karla Anderson, partner and principal, pharmaceutical and life sciences advisory practice, at PricewaterhouseCoopers. A New Landscape Requires a Specialized Rep As companies expand the definition of the field force beyond the sales representative to include a broader team of resources with specific expertise who can engage in different discussions with the customer compared with that of a traditional sales representative, the customer engagement model has become more complex. Ms. Anderson from PwC says this stakeholder group now includes clinical resources, reimbursement specialists, thought leader resources, and medical affairs liaisons. According to Jane Hollingsworth, CEO of NuPathe, sales forces need embody an educational team in order to be embraced by specialty physicians who require updated scientific information. “On the other hand, in primary care, the need for an extensive sales force is less clear,” she says. “There may be hybrid models that combine face-to-face interactions with remote technologies to provide value to primary care clinicians while maintaining commercial viability.” Outsourcing could also become more mainstream in the course of specialization, Mr. Micali of PDI says. “The industry will be focusing on reducing sales costs while also insulating against risk,” he says. “As part of the overall focus on streamlining the middle of their P&L, pharma companies are going to look at outsourcing sales teams and related functions as a variable expense opposed to a significant fixed cost. In the current environment, there are too many variables impacting sales for that to be handled entirely and efficiently in-house, especially for start-up companies or drugs awaiting approval. “Like most large enterprises, pharma companies aren’t set up to be nimble,” Mr. Micali adds. “They require a different specialized infrastructure. Given that, outsourcing becomes an attractive cost-savings strategy.” A Blockbuster Shift The decline of mass-market blockbusters is also a factor in shaping the role of the new sales rep. As many blockbuster brands continue to lose patent protection and become exposed to generic competition, large primary-care sales forces will continue to contract and pharma companies will focus their resources on new and emerging opportunities, says Dan Bobear, executive VP, managing director of client service, Palio. “Sales representatives will become more of a valued resource, and specialty sales forces will thrive,” he says. “The blockbuster drugs of the future, many of which are biologics and targeted therapies, will require a completely different skill set to promote, and the target audience will also much more defined. For instance, promoting to oncologists is a much more cost-effective proposition than trying to cover multiple primary-care audiences.” The local stakeholder mix will also dictate the types and quantity of sales resources deployed, optimizing investments toward groups who have greater influence on brand penetration. “In many mature countries this will mean more investment in specialized sales forces, such as KAMs for IDNs, physician groups, or local plans, at the expense of the traditional sales force,” Mr. Clark from IMS says. “In some emerging markets, this change may be less dramatic in the short term given the slower pace in loss of prescribing freedom, but companies must continually update their understanding of the local landscape and be prepared to adapt to changes in these fast moving economies.” In the ever-changing world, the traditional sales rep will continue to have his place in the marketing mix, but will lose ground to alternate forms of product marketing. “The most successful marketing in the future will focus on third-party payers, managed-care providers, formulary managers, and will incorporate pharmacoeconomic assessments as an integral strategy of the clinical program,” says Nicholas Landekic, president and CEO, PolyMedix. “Progressive commercial organizations will likely invest in specialized field-based resources that can make the linkage between the product and how prescribers optimize their clinical outcomes and the corresponding reimbursement to address the changing model.” Social Media and ­Technology According to our experts, social media and technology are having a profound impact on the use and deployment of a sales force. Depending upon the product and the physician targets, social media can be used to inform, educate, and enlighten physicians and patients on the appropriate use of new biopharmaceuticals. “While the use of this media is evolving and regulations need to be issued to establish ground rules among and between biopharmaceutical companies, it is nevertheless, a fact of life that the landscape has been irrevocably changed by this media,” Ms. Hollingsworth says. The move toward technology and social media is a logical transition, since social networking and relationship-building has been and will continue to be an integral part of sales success. However, the challenge today is using methods that integrate more into the physician’s social stream. “Reps will need better mobile applications and sales-force automation to improve responsiveness and provide better communication and education,” Mr. Barrett of Daiichi Sankyo says. The reliance on building and sustaining the customer relationship through a dependence on face-to-face interactions is changing dramatically, Ms. Anderson says. “The increase in multichannel communications with customers and, in particular, the significance of the digital channel have resulted in an evolved relationship-management model that recognizes customer preference related to communication channels of choice,” she says. “Organizations are becoming more sophisticated in their ability to collect and analyze how customers prefer to be communicated with and what information customers want from the organization and where they want to get that information,” she continues. “The result is a more refined customer-interaction model that acknowledges that a successful customer relationship can be developed and grown through multiple communication channels.” “The representative of the future will be technology-enabled in ways that benefit both companies and physicians,” Mr. Micali adds. “Technology will create an omniscient representative who is better armed with more real-time data, not only about the target physician’s practice and information preferences, but about which recent programs they’ve participated in, what information was presented, and if they gave any opinion or feedback. “Technology will allow sales representatives to present meaningful content that dovetails with the physician’s real needs,” he says. “At the same time, new hybrid channels, such as video detailing, will increasingly be used to complement sales forces, with the result of making in-person details, although fewer in number, more in depth and productive.” Technology platforms will also have to evolve along with the new role of the sales rep. Sudler & Hennessey’s Mr. Samuel predicts that platforms for closed-looped marketing, sales-force automation systems, and customer relationship marketing will evolve into one integrated solution. “The use of tablet PCs, iPads, or slates will be ubiquitous and sales representatives will need to not only be proficient in using new technology in calls with their customers but be expected to make better territory planning decisions based on the analytics and insights generated by one integrated technology solution,” he says. These types of advancements, however, may take awhile, says Frank Powers, president of Dudnyk Healthcare Group. For social media to do the job for healthcare professionals, there will have to be personalized and secure media channels that physicians can use for peer-to-peer educational purposes. “As the personal selling time of sales reps decreases, the importance of nonpersonal and digital interactions with physicians will increase, and a new type of ‘branducation’ will be required — selling tools that also contain valuable educational content to attract and hold physician attention while demonstrating value,” Mr. Powers says. F PharmaVOICE welcomes comments about this article. E-mail us at feedback@pharmavoice.com. Sydney Clark IMS “In mature countries, there will be more investment in specialized sales forces, such as KAMs for IDNs, physician groups, or local plans, at the expense of the traditional sales force.” Nicholas Landekic PolyMedix “Progressive organizations will address the changing model by investing in specialized ­ field-based resources that make the link between product and how prescribers optimize their ­clinical outcomes and reimbursement.” As the industry adjusts to patent expirations, changing customer demands, and a challenging payer landscape, ­commercial models will continue to evolve and sales forces will undoubtedly go through significant changes in the next five years. Karla Anderson PwC “The effectiveness of customer relationships in the future will not be measured by the size of the field force but by the impact of collective multichannel customer interactions on product sales.” Frank Powers Dudnyk “‘Branducation’ will be required — ­selling tools that contain valuable ­educational content to attract and hold physician attention while ­demonstrating value.” Greg Barrett Daiichi Sankyo “Companies will need highly trained and skilled sales forces to tackle the complexity of specialty markets.” Joseph Regan Millennium “The industry needs to understand and adapt to the emerging needs of our markets.” Mark Samuel Sudler & Hennessey “Looking forward, sales training will play a critical role to retool the skills to align with ­­customer-focused selling principles.” Richard Micali PDI “We’ve seen the last of the monolithic one-size-fits-all sales team applied in a vanilla strategy across the United States.” Dan Bobear Palio “In the coming years, reps will become more of a valued resource, and specialty sales forces will thrive.” Dean Tozer Advanced BioHealing “Reps of today need to be more in tune with the reimbursement nuances of their products.” John White The Medical Affairs Company “It is critical for companies to truly distinguish themselves from the current model by ­providing a representative who exactly meets the providers’ needs.” Gil Bashe is Executive VP of Makovsky + ­Company, an ­independent global ­public relations, investor relations, and branding consultancy, focused in financial services, professional services, healthcare, ­technology, branding, and investor relations. For more information, visit makovsky.com. 1. As a social herd, we are moving toward digital relationships and face-to-face ­conversations are fewer and fewer. Sales needs to tap into those digital ­conversations and the FDA and industry need to quickly define — in partnership — rules for ­navigating the new relationship terrain. 2. Companies will need to bring a new, dynamic way for physicians to experience visually what the medication can do for their patients. 3. MSLs will become an industry norm. Physicians respond to ­people who know ­science and who they can directly relate to — other physicians, ­scientists, and nurses. We will move away from the historic sales rep to “folks I trust” model. Nick Colucci is ­President and CEO of Publicis Healthcare ­Communications Group, a healthcare ­communications network with 40 offices around the globe. For more information, visit ­publicishealthcare.com. 1. Product life-cycle demands require a new eye toward selling techniques. The selling experience is shifting toward improving patient adherence and compliance by focusing on patient-assistance programs, reimbursement, and education. 2. Beginning in April 2012, companies will be required to report sample-distribution activity. While tracking is not new, we will see turn-key solutions to manage sample compliance proactively. Programs, such as Vacant Territory, will be used more ­frequently to support geographical needs. 3. Physician face-time availability and sales force resources are diminishing. Most major pharma ­companies are now working with at least two different outsource providers to achieve their outreach needs. Melissa Hammond is Managing Director of Snowfish LLC, which integrates clinical, marketing, and quantitative information to answer a client’s specific objective. For more information, visit snowfish.com. 1. Identification and targeting of viable customers will improve through technology. 2. The sales strategy focus will shift from only ­physicians as targets to include mid-level providers. 3. Customers are demanding quality over quantity, so real thought needs to be used in engagement of the customer. Harris Kaplan is CEO of Healogix, a provider of marketing research and consulting for the pharma and biotech industries. For more information, visit healogix.com. 1. Sales forces will get smaller and smarter. Drugs that have real incremental value need fewer calls to get their message across. 2. Despite advances in technology, the detail force is still a primary means for communicating the value of a new product. Differentiated products will require fewer calls to stimulate physician prescribing. 3. Sales forces will increasingly support new products in their early phases of market launch. Once a brand matures, new, nonpersonal technologies will pick up the fulfillment role that occupies so many calls today. Rick Keefer is President and CEO of Publicis Touchpoint Solutions Inc., a provider of a comprehensive and integrated array of outsourced biopharma message delivery channels — field teams, virtual teams, and clinical education teams — plus full-service support solutions. For more information, visit publicistouchpointsolutions.net. 1. The sales force of the future will be better educated and trained as well as proficient in using clinical studies and evidence-based medicine in conversations with prescribers. 2. The increased use and number of ­nontraditional representatives will augment traditional field sales teams, such as customer service representatives, clinical health ­educators, live video representatives, and hybrid representatives, who call on physicians both ­in-field and virtually via webcam. 3. There will be greater use of preference- and behavior-based marketing with the objective of always providing customers with what they want, when they want it, and how they want it, which will take multichannel marketing to the next level. Sushiel Keswani is Executive Director, Advisory Services, Life Sciences Customer Domain, of Ernst & Young, a professional services organization that helps companies across the globe to identify and capitalize on business opportunities. For more information, visit ey.com. 1. There will be a move toward solutions that drive health outcomes. 2. There will be a paradigm shift in the ­capabilities of the reps to fit into the new ­commercial model. 3. New models that collaborate with nontraditional partners to drive awareness, access, and health outcomes will emerge. Jeff Laidlaw is VP of BioPath Consulting LLC, a specialty company focusing on scientific and clinical training and education of sales forces. For more information, visit biopathconsulting.com. 1. Companies will need to provide customer-focused interactions. 2. There will be a need for quality, nonbiased scientific and clinical exchanges with ­physicians. 3. Companies will need to deploy ­consultative sales models. Ahnal Purohit, Ph.D., is CEO and President of Purohit Navigation, a full-service, independent, integrated healthcare brand solutions company positioned to creatively navigate the full potential of small-to-midsized specialty brands. For more information, visit purohitnavigation.com. 1. The increase of products in specialty markets will impact the expertise required to market these individualized targeted products. 2. The overall importance of the United States market will decrease significantly — some experts suggest it could end up being only 25% of the global market. 3. Pharmaceutical companies are recognizing — and even calculating — the point of diminishing returns of their sales forces. Ken Ribotsky is President and CEO of The Core Nation, which includes ­healthcare marketing firms Brandkarma and Core-Create, and medical communications company Alpha & Omega. The Core Nation connects its family of healthcare marketing and communications companies with its own high-level strategic, branding and creative consulting services. For more information, visit thecorenation.com. 1. First is the degree to which ­doctors will allow access. As practices trend toward becoming ­corporate endeavors, access will become even more gated and controlled. 2. Online access to information doctors ­previously could get only from representatives will replace sales calls from reps. 3. Sales forces will be called into action to launch and educate for a limited amount of time after introduction of a new product. They will then be scaled back as the brand takes hold and the returns start to diminish. Charles Saldarini is CEO of Sentrx, a provider of drug safety services to the life- sciences industry. For more information, visit sentrx.com. 1. Influence-based targeting will replace a ­disproportionate reliance on pure prescription data. 2. Internet-driven content will stimulate ­on-demand interactive dialogs. 3. Certified prescribing programs will ­demonstrate provider competency over drug use, which fits with postmarketing requirements. Matt Wallach is Chief Strategy Officer of Veeva Systems, a provider of SaaS-based CRM solutions for the global life-sciences industry. For more information, visit veevasystems.com. 1. The shift away from primary-care blockbusters will continue to reduce overall headcount among pharma sales reps. 2. Technology, specifically cloud ­computing, will enable sales forces to be more nimble and to experiment with new models more easily. 3. Sales reps will need re-training to become ­better versed in their therapeutic areas and able to help customers navigate the internal pharma organization in search of information. Factors Impacting Sales Forces of Today and Tomorrow There are some very interesting phenomena expected to influence sales forces in the future. Digital Tools Open Physician Doors igital media touch all facets of the relationship between pharmaceutical companies and prescribers. The reliance on building and sustaining the customer relationship through face-to-face interactions is changing dramatically. The increase in multichannel communications with customers and in particular the significance of the digital channel have resulted in an evolved relationship management model that recognizes customer preference related to communication channels of choice. “Organizations are becoming more sophisticated in their ability to collect and analyze how customers prefer to be communicated with and what information customers want from the organization and where they want to get that information,” says Karla Anderson, partner and principal, pharmaceutical and life sciences advisory practice, PwC. “The result is a more refined customer interaction model that acknowledges that a successful customer relationship can be developed and grown through multiple communication channels.” Now more than ever, physicians live in the digital age, with quality real-time education, information, and patient management tools available on demand, says Jay Bolling, CEO, Roska Healthcare. Digital technologies will continue to facilitate quality peer-to-peer connections among physicians and patients alike. “As an industry, we’ll find the most successful health outcomes result from programs that optimize and improve the quality of the in-office doctor-to-patient dialogue and relationships,” he says. The industry is already beginning to witness digital health trends impacting just about every physician interaction. “In a word, digital health trends are completely transforming every aspect of how life-science companies communicate with physicians,” says Rick Keefer, president and CEO, Publicis Touchpoint Solutions. “Newer digital communication channels help fulfill the objective of providing physicians with what customers want, when they want it, and how they want it.” For example, field representatives are increasingly using tablet PCs and now iPads in their discussions with physicians. The use of live video detailing, which is expanding dramatically, can only occur because of innovations in the digital arena, he says. Even physicians’ interest in and use of e-sampling and e-detailing — as well as electronic distribution of medical education — is growing. Companies are continuing to invest in new technologies and physician-oriented mobile and health applications that provide new ways to sell and are easy to implement. “Supporting traditional sales activity with a digital strategy enables organizations to demonstrate thought leadership and forge discussion between doctors and patients about treatment options, and exposes a wider audience to key brand messages,” says Greg Barrett, VP, Marketing, Daiichi Sankyo. “Through more interactive content, reps will be able to provide detailed information and deliver a richer, better and more effective sales experience.” Digital engagement tactics or digital program help companies capture all of the data points and use them to paint a better picture of physician behavior and preferences across a range of areas. The longer reps can capture integrated data and the more data available, the clearer a picture they have of how physicians like to receive information. “This is when CRM really works and can be used to provide better service and value to physicians and ultimately the patient,” says Richard Micali, senior VP, sales services, at PDI. More companies are using technology to schedule satellite broadcast meetings and webcasts to provide their sales reps with a meaningful, engaging, and appealing event to invite their area targets to. These meetings combine the benefits of local, face-to-face interactions with a controlled and unified national message — often presented by the scientists and physicians from whom HCPs around the country most want to hear. “Having the ability to invite their local HCPs to intriguing and detailed scientific presentations, can enhance sales reps’ credibility and access,” says Doug Mack, president of Event Support Services Rx. The digital universe helps reps collaborate with those within the company as well, says Kelly Gratz, president, inVentiv Selling Accelerators. “In many cases, sales and marketing have often worked in silos,” she says. “Now, we are working with clients to blend those disciplines to strengthen the offering via closed loop marketing, virtual promotion, and data collection and analytics to continuously evolve the mix.” The data collected across these platforms inform the deployment strategy and ultimately drives value to the brand and the client, and most importantly, to HCP audiences. “The iPad is an excellent example of how quickly technology can change the way the field force has, and will continue to, evolve in the months to come,” she says. “Integration with these evolving channels and the manner in which they can be leveraged to engage HCPs in valuable conversations helps make the time that HCPs do spend engaged with a brand as valuable as possible.” F PharmaVOICE welcomes comments about this article. E-mail us at feedback@pharmavoice.com. Digital tools and technologies are shaping new sales trends. Rick Keefer Publicis Touchpoint Solutions “In a word, digital health trends are ­completely transforming every aspect of how life-science companies ­communicate with physicians.” Kelly Gratz President, inVentiv Selling Accelerators “The iPad is an excellent example of how quickly technology can change the way the field force has, and will continue to, evolve in the months to come.” Reps of Tomorrow Will Need Both Science and CRM Skills iven the environmental and sales target changes, the sales model must change to a concierge model, our experts say. This requires a very different approach and even a different type of salesperson. “Pharma companies can learn much from management consulting and service-selling skills,” says Dave Ormesher, CEO of closerlook. “Selling to a policymaker or a payer requires a partnership orientation and a focus on a mutually identified value proposition. Consultative selling assumes a long-range perspective and an investment in relationship building.” To get to the core of this consultative selling model, companies are training reps to listen to the physician’s needs during a sales call. “Companies are learning that they must bring their customers what they want, rather than simply what they want to bring,” says W. Scott Evangelista, principal, national commercial practice leader, Deloitte Consulting. “Armed with bigger ears and an effective support structure, sales reps are bringing products as part of the solution and helping their customers meet their needs rather than those of their employers.” All companies are introducing new commercial models, and for the first time, they are actually taking different paths from each other to create competitive differentiation, reports Dan Goldsmith, VP, Europe, Veeva Systems. “These strategies range anywhere from positioning the sales rep as the account quarterback to coordinate the access and usage of different company resources, to integrated, multi-disciplinary strategies, to establishing sales as simply an execution channel,” he says. “As the market continues to be saturated by me-too, large-molecule products, pharma companies will likely differentiate themselves based on science in the small-molecule and biologics areas. This will create an integrated selling team environment where each rep serves a new and different type of role. Some of these sales roles will be more oriented to a scientific sell, while others will be oriented to a relationship and account management model.” The successful sales rep of tomorrow will be better educated and trained, more skilled at consultative selling skills, more informed and capable of having higher-science dialogues around disease state issues, and adept at understanding and using clinical studies and evidence-based medicine with physicians, according to Rick Keefer, president and CEO, Publicis Touchpoint Solutions. Start with Seasoned Reps As sales teams become more specialized and service-oriented, representatives are expected to have knowledge beyond the product that includes topics, such as disease management and reimbursement. “As a result, a level of experience and maturity is required on commercial teams, which translates into hiring more seasoned representatives with higher levels of experience, industry awareness, and understanding,” suggests Dean Tozer, senior VP of Advanced BioHealing. “Once these seasoned representatives are on board, the training and education will have to be augmented to equip them for this changing landscape.” According to Jeff Laidlaw, VP of BioPath Consulting, pharma companies have self-reported that fewer than 33% of their sales force has a scientific/clinical background and that less than 25% are consultative reps. “Until companies are able to deploy scientifically and clinically trained consultative reps, their goals will not be achieved,” Mr. Laidlaw says. To meet the emerging requirements in a very competitive landscape, companies are increasingly employing customer service representatives — either alone or in combination with their field sales team. These customer service representatives do not conduct product discussions but rather provide a high level of service to physicians’ practices via samples and patient education materials. Mr. Keefer says this is the key to success in the future. “Many companies are also integrating clinical health educators into their message delivery mix,” he says. “Clinical health educators are credentialed healthcare professionals, who are often nurses, but could be other healthcare professionals, such as diabetes educators, dietitians, depending on the disease state and program objectives — who work with physicians and/or patients on patient adherence and retention issues.” Mr. Keefer explains that clinical health educators focus on both disease state education and education around the therapies prescribed, including therapeutic options such as behavior and lifestyle changes. These roles will be crucial in the new world of comparative effectiveness, our experts say. “Reps and MSLs were always expected to be familiar with and experts in the science of the drugs they promoted,” says Sushiel Keswani, executive director, advisory services, life sciences customer domain, Ernst & Young Advisory Services. “In the new world, the strategies that will be employed will be based on comparative effectiveness evidence of the product, documented health outcomes, and the value of the therapy to the patients.” Reps Who Know Science Bring More Value The future success of sales forces will be measured on the overall value they bring to the provider, not on the market metrics that have driven the industry for decades, says John White, R.Ph., MS director, medical science liaison programs, The Medical Affairs Company. “Promotional messaging still needs to be delivered, yet this needs to be done in an environment that leverages the science of the product and the disease state even more,” he says. As medications and medication management have become increasingly complex, pharmaceutical representatives must, by design, be more learned in their science, and there will be a greater trend toward individuals with scientific and clinical training. “While medical liaisons will continue to work with and develop the thought leaders and academicians who are influential to research and education, there is a vital need to use clinically trained individuals who can bring the same level of scientific expertise to the traditional, office-based physician practices,” Mr. White says. “These clinical specialists will cross over multiple products and focus on a more disease-state approach.” This new era of reps must be more than mere conduits of a brand’s promotional message. “Reps must provide value to each practice, based on individual needs and characteristics, in the form of relevant data, peer-to-peer connections, and access to patient support and services,” says Jay Bolling, CEO, Roska Healthcare. No problem, says Jay Carter, senior VP, director of strategy services, AbelsonTaylor, because in many ways, this focus is similar to that of the past when there was one sales force, trusted with multiple brands, calling on a physician and creating a trusted relationship where product information matters. “Reps will begin to add value the way they did before: by getting information and samples into the physician’s hands,” he says. F PharmaVOICE welcomes comments about this article. E-mail us at feedback@pharmavoice.com. To survive and thrive in the future, sales reps will have to be specialized and service-oriented. Dan Goldsmith Veeva Systems “Some sales roles will be more oriented to a scientific sell, while others will be ­oriented to a relationship and account management model.” Greg Barrett is VP, Marketing, of Daiichi Sankyo Inc., a member of the Daiichi Sankyo Group, ­dedicated to the creation and ­supply of innovative ­pharmaceutical products to address the diversified, unmet medical needs of patients in both mature and emerging markets. For more information, visit dsi.com. The sales force of the future will need to embrace new technologies and find innovative ways of enhancing productivity, effectiveness, and ­influencing behavior. Reps will need to keep pace with changes in ­prescribing decisions and gain fact-based insight into how promotion activity drives prescribing behavior. New technologies will help drive higher performance by enabling reps to better understand metrics such as patient demographics and physician prescribing ­preferences. Jay Bolling is CEO of Roska Healthcare Advertising, a full-service advertising agency with expertise in engaging prospects through ­communications that ­integrate data and insight-driven marketing and advertising solutions. For more ­information, visit roskahealthcare.com. Consultative selling skills will be a must-have, ­identifying the needs and problems of the practice, and providing solutions accordingly. The need to leverage resources and relationships will also be important to provide physicians with information and services they can’t get on their own. Nick Colucci is President and CEO of Publicis Healthcare Communications Group, a healthcare communications agency network with 40 offices around the globe. For more information, visit publicishealthcare.com. Physicians still want to see reps — but their limited time demands a deeper, more meaningful ­conversation. Dedicated managed-care sales reps, with expertise interpreting analytics around patient-centric outcomes, compliance and disease-state ­management, are critical in creating unique selling positions and cutting through clutter. W. Scott Evangelista is ­Principal, National Commercial Practice ­Leader, Deloitte offers a menu of professional services ­delivered in an integrated, ­collaborative approach that cuts across all segments of the health plan, health provider, and life-sciences industries. For more ­information, visit deloitte.com. We are not in an environment where we can tweak the skills of a sales rep to enable a new way to do ­business. We have to redefine the objectives for ­personal ­interaction with customers and build teams with ­complementary skills to meet the needs of the market. If pressed to identify a single skill that sales reps need in the future, it would be ­consultative selling, or in other words, shaping ­solutions around needs. Kelly Gratz is President of ­inVentiv Selling Accelerators, a ­subdivision of inVentiv ­Commercial, which is comprised of industry sales experts who bring the experience, knowledge, and skill necessary to develop and flawlessly ­execute successful sales ­strategies. For more ­information, visit ­inventivhealth.com. Sales reps need to want to solve problems. ­Healthcare providers (HCPs) are looking for ­knowledge they don’t have already, more ­importantly that they don’t know they don’t have either. As a result, reps will need to be more ­inquisitive as to the challenges HCPs are facing, and then solve those challenges through a variety of ways, for example data, peer groups, etc. Reps need to be increasingly more tech savvy, as HCPs ­continue to lead adoption of some of the newest technologies in the marketplace. Melissa Hammond is ­Managing Director of Snowfish LLC, which integrates clinical, ­marketing, and quantitative ­information. For more information, visit ­snowfish.com. Sales reps will need to be able to profile each ­customer by assessing their roles within their ­practice and key interests — teaching, science, research, etc. — and then customize their offering and message to address these specific needs. Jeff Laidlaw is VP of BioPath Consulting LLC, a specialty company focusing on scientific and clinical training and ­education of sales forces. For more information, visit ­biopathconsulting.com. Sales reps will need to be transformed into ­consultative reps, who have comprehensive ­scientific knowledge and clinical acumen. They will need to be able to paint patient profiles; uncover unmet customer needs; and deliver relevant, ­nonbiased information, through customer-focused interactions. This type of interaction will allow HCPs to see value in the rep and will provide the greatest patient benefit and the ­greatest return on the ­training investment. David Ormesher is CEO of closerlook inc., a strategic ­marketing agency specializing in healthcare. For more information, visit ­closerlook.com. The sales rep of the future will need to learn how to be quiet and listen to the needs of physicians and use those insights to position products and ­communicate a value proposition in a way that is transparent and that builds trust. This includes being able to admit a particular product is not the right fit for a certain class of patients. Matt Wallach is Chief Strategy Officer of Veeva Systems, a provider of SaaS-based CRM ­solutions for the global life-sciences industry. For more ­information, visit ­veevasystems.com. Going forward, sales reps will need to act more like quarterbacks, helping customers to quickly navigate the internal pharma organizations in search of drug information. Jay Carter Abelson-Taylor “Reps will begin to add value the way that they did before: by getting information and samples into the physician’s hands.” Dean Tozer Advanced BioHealing “A level of experience and ­maturity are required on ­commercial teams, which ­translates into ­hiring more ­seasoned representatives with higher levels of ­experience, ­industry ­awareness, and ­understanding.” Jay Bolling. CEO, Roska Healthcare Advertising, a full-service advertising agency with expertise in engaging prospects through ­communications that integrate data and insight-driven marketing and advertising solutions. For more information, visit roskahealthcare.com. Jay Carter. Senior VP, Director of Strategy Services, AbelsonTaylor, an independently owned full-service healthcare advertising agency. For more information, visit abelsontaylor.com. W. Scott Evangelista. Principal, National ­Commercial Practice Leader, Deloitte offers a menu of professional services delivered in an integrated, collaborative approach that cuts across all segments of the health plan, health provider, and life-sciences industries. For more information, visit deloitte.com. Dan Goldsmith. VP, Europe, Veeva Systems, a provider of SaaS-based CRM solutions for the global life-sciences industry. For more information, visit veevasystems.com. Rick KeefeR. President and CEO of Publicis Touchpoint Solutions Inc., a provider of a comprehensive and integrated array of ­outsourced biopharma message delivery channels — field teams, virtual teams, and clinical education teams — plus full-service support solutions. For more information, visit publicistouchpointsolutions.net. Sushiel Keswani. Executive Director, ­Advisory Services, Life Sciences Customer, Ernst & Young, a professional services organization, helps companies across the globe to identify and capitalize on business opportunities. For more information, visit ey.com. Jeff Laidlaw. VP, BioPath Consulting LLC, a specialty company focusing on scientific and clinical training and education of sales forces. For more information, visit biopathconsulting.com. David Ormesher. CEO, closerlook inc., a strategic marketing agency specializing in healthcare. Their structured approach to strategy, technology, and innovation helps brands build integrated marketing ­programs that deepen customer ­relationships. For more information, visit closerlook.com. Dean Tozer. Senior VP, Advanced ­BioHealing Inc., which develops and ­commercializes living cell therapies that repair damaged human tissue and enable the body to heal itself. For more information, visit abh.com. John M. White. R.Ph. MS Director, Medical Science Liaison Programs, The Medical Affairs Company (TMAC) is a provider of strategically aligned and customized MSL programs. For more information, visit themedicalaffairscompany.com.

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