Year in Review 2015 – Sales/Marketing
A round-up of the best sales/marketing articles of 2015.
2015 saw continued innovations in sales and marketing as we developed our abilities to build a community of patients using multichannel techniques. The desire to achieve increased patient-centricity influenced business thinking in a range of areas from the motivation and payment of sales reps, to how to build purpose-driven cross-functional teams, and even how to succeed at content marketing.
The author of eyeforpharma’s ‘Key Customer Engagement Report – Towards Key Account Management in Pharma,’ Martin Parkinson, provided some lessons for the successful implementation of Key Account Management (KAM):
1. “It takes a few years to get this right;”
2. “When you do get it right, you start to get results, and I think this is a real positive;”
3. “Organizations need to think differently about how they define value.”
He stressed that recruiting the right individual for a KAM position is vital; pharma need to identify people with real business acumen and ability in strategic thinking, who are willing to assume accountability and ownership.
With patient-centricity being a huge theme for 2015, where does sales talk fit in? Victoria Williams, Vice President and Sales Director of GSK, shared how a patient-focused selling model infused within every aspect of GSK’s business. Medical reps no longer have individual sales targets, but are rewarded “primarily based on their technical skills, scientific knowledge, the quality of service they deliver to HCPs, and their business planning and execution.” Williams provided some steps needed to achieve a patient-centered sales approach, such as the continuous retraining of sales reps.
eyeforpharma explored the potential application of design thinking to the pharma industry in conversation with Marie Hartmann, Partner at Designit. Hartmann agrees that design thinking has a place within pharma since “Design has always been about problem solving and creating something better.” When designers approach a problem, the primary and most important consideration is always the end user. The basic steps used in the design approach are: empathizing, defining, ideating, prototyping, and testing. Pharma has several touch points with patients that provide opportunities to apply these steps, such as during clinical trials, diagnosis, and treatment.
Dr Andree Bates wrote a thought-provoking piece on how AI might assist with marketing success. Bates feels that traditional analytical techniques, which often using static Excel spreadsheets, are completely outdated. In contrast, AI analytics can analyse large amount of data and extract critical elements for success, such as indicating the changes needed in sales and marketing messaging, and a prediction of the financial results that these changes would produce.
Pat Andrews, Chief Commercial Officer at Boston Biomedical, spoke to Adam Hill about her career to-date, and in particular her existing role, which she has held since 2013. Currently focused on launching a portfolio of innovative cancer treatments, she explained the marketing dilemmas that come with the job – such as the prioritization of certain conditions - and how she overcomes these.
A much-needed look was taken at what doctors want from pharma - which isn’t more information and data. Indeed, this is the information age, and with the existence of Google and the internet, data isn’t as valuable as it used to be. As such, David Laws provided guidelines for pharma companies to consider before providing information to doctors: make it relevant (based on your knowledge of the individual physician); make it unique (“tell me something I don’t already know”); and, keep it credible.
Incentive programs started to take a back seat, as top executives considered more intrinsic reward systems. One pharma exec explained that incentive programs for sales representatives are a “lazy, quick fix,” that might “drive behavior, but not necessarily good behavior.” He cited research that demonstrates how providing an extrinsic reward for a job can decrease performance within that role. His advice for driving strong performance is providing autonomy, mastery, and purpose for employees.
We looked outside the industry for ways to improve customer experience, speaking to Northern Gas Networks (NGN) Chief Executive, Mark Horsley, about his efforts to transform NGN to a more customer-centric business model. In essence, he believes that: “It’s 90% about people.” He feels that the first step towards changing a company’s culture is to capture the hearts and minds of employees and to develop their passion for helping the customer. Business processes should follow on from this, rather than being the center of the change.
Collaborative patient-centric initiatives were investigated, including the specialty company set up by GSK and Pfizer to tackle HIV – ViiV Healthcare. Sara LeClerc, Marketing Director for ViiV Healthcare, provided insight into her role, which is to build credibility with patients and physicians, as facilitated by the company’s focus on one disease. In 2013 and 2014, a survey conducted by Patient View ranked ViiV Number One for overall corporate reputation from a patient perspective. LeClerc credits multichannel marketing for their success in creating dialogue and valuable interaction with their customers.
Carlien Viljoen, Senior Product Manager, Thrombosis (Critical Care) at LEO Pharma Canada, spoke about how the internet and mobile technology have revolutionized the way that the vast majority of pharma’s customers are receiving their information - and that the industry needs to keep pace with this shift. “With the number of channels available, it’s impossible to always get the right message via the right channel to the right customer at the right time,” she said - but a constant analysis and understanding of data will help every company to fast-track the learning curve. Digital marketing currently accounts for around 15% of marketing activity in pharma, but this is set to increase to 30% in the next three to four years.
With more proactive patients who want to be better informed about their health and medications, content has never been so important to pharma. Indeed, 2015 was what Robert Rose, Chief Strategist at the Content Marketing Institute, termed the 7th era of marketing. If the 6th era was the so-called ‘relationship era,’ Rose believes the 7th era is all about experiences. As such, the way a brand should engage potential customers is through providing education, delight, and general usefulness. There is a difference between ‘content in marketing’ and ‘content marketing,’ and Rose advocates the latter as the key route to success.
Eight leading pharma experts recommended a number of books that had influenced them in some way. As a taster, these included: The Innovator's Hypothesis: How Cheap Experiments are Worth more than Good Ideas by Michael Schrage; The Trust Edge by David Horsager; Who Moved My Cheese? An Amazing Way to Deal with Change in Your Work and in Your Life by Spencer Johnson; The Tipping Point: How Little Things Can Make a Big Difference by Malcolm Gladwell; The Truth about the Drug Companies: How They Deceive Us and What to Do about It by Marcia Angell; Bad Pharma: How Medicine is Broken, and How We can Fix It by Ben Goldacre; and, Good to Great by Jim Collins.
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