The Sales Force of the Future
By Dan Bobear (@dbobear)
A salesman has got to dream – it comes with the territory.
Playwright Arthur Miller wrote that quote in 1949, but for today’s pharmaceutical sales force, the words still ring true. As door-to-door sales have given way to more sophisticated approaches, sales organizations need to dream big with their eyes wide open. The sales force of the future is, after all, the sales force of today – but more.
More mobile: One trend that will continue is the need for mobile applications and sales force automation to improve responsiveness and provide better pharmaceutical communication and education. Pharmaceutical sales representatives will still need to make informative presentations, provide pricing and order-history information, produce all necessary forms and capture signatures during time-constrained meetings. While that won’t change, computing devices such as handhelds, wireless e-mail devices, conventional notebook computers and tablet PCs will give way to even more robust and affordable mobile devices.
Getting information to physicians quickly will be even more critical. Investing in technologies such as the iPad and physician-oriented mobile and health apps will provide new ways to sell and are easy to implement. Through more interactive content, reps will be able to provide more detailed information and deliver a richer, better and more effective sales experience.
More metrics-driven: More careful, accurate and constant campaign tracking and analysis will also shape the sales force of the future. Technology that helps reps better understand metrics such as physician prescribing preferences, patient demographics, and how many sales reps need to be assigned to a particular practice along with the resources to manage, interpret and communicate findings will increase sales force effectiveness. After all, you can’t measure what you don’t know.
Organizations need to keep pace with changes in how prescribing decisions are made and gain fact-based insight into what drives prescribing behavior. The rapidly changing drug market place and heightened regulatory requirements will require more targeted promotion activity for new Rx and OTC products. Pressure to differentiate from the competition will continue to intensify. As a result, the sales force of the future will need better insight into how promotion activity influences behavior to drive higher performance.
More reliant on hard data: However, it’s not enough to simply gather data. Organizations need to analyze it and use the information swiftly to make informed business decisions. The opportunity lies in transforming data from a support tool to a strategic weapon. A new breed of data-driven sales forces will emerge, incorporating information analysis and management as a distinctive capability. By understanding critical business trends, sales organizations can create physician-centric campaigns, make decisions based on real data and establish relationships built on value.
More social: Relationship building will also continue to be an integral part of sales success in the future, but how those relationships are cultivated and strengthened will rely on more than just in-office sales calls. Sales representatives will need to integrate more into the physician’s social stream – whether that’s through online events, webinars, or other multimedia platforms – and educate consumers through social mediums such as YouTube or Facebook applications. Videos, chat rooms and other interactive portals promote a better understanding of health and treatment options available. Supporting traditional sales activity with a digital strategy enables organizations to demonstrate thought leadership, forge discussion between doctors and patients about treatment options and exposes a wider audience to key brand messages.
The sales force of the future needs to do more than just dream. They need to embrace new technologies and find innovative ways of enhancing productivity, effectiveness and influencing behavior.
The future is already here. Are you ready?
By Dan Bobear (@dbobear)
Otsuka Pharma to Buy 1,300 IPads for Sales Employees (Update1)
By Kanoko Matsuyama
June 8 (Bloomberg) — Otsuka Pharmaceutical Co. said it will buy 1,300 Apple Inc. iPads for its sales representatives in Japan to market the company’s medicines.
Otsuka will purchase the devices from Softbank Corp. by the end of July for its sales force to give presentations to doctors and study company training materials, the Tokyo-based drugmaker said in a statement. The company is considering using the iPad globally, said Yuko Kikuchi, a spokeswoman for Otsuka.
“It’s getting more important to provide new medical information to doctors more quickly,” Kikuchi said by telephone today. “The iPad will help employees improve the quality of their work.”
Otsuka, the closely held company that discovered the antipsychotic drug Abilify, will spend about 230 million yen ($2.5 million) on the iPads in the first year, including service fees to Softbank, according to Kikuchi. The electronic device from Cupertino, California-based Apple began selling in Japan less than two weeks ago after making its U.S. debut on April 3.
Otsuka has 1,070 sales representatives as of April 1, according to the statement posted on its website yesterday. Employees who support the sales staff, including product managers, will also use the iPad, Kikuchi said.
The Japanese drugmaker and Bristol-Myers Squibb Co. jointly market and promote Abilify in Europe and the U.S. Otsuka also makes and sells the Pocari Sweat drink and Soyjoy nutrition bar.
More on Social Media and B2B Buying Cycles
One of the interesting ways of capturing the problems with traditional knowledge management is it came at knowledge from a stocks viewpoint, a stocks of knowledge. The problem is, we have knowledge, it’s distributed and dispersed throughout the organization. How do we capture it and make it available to others?
Certainly a big challenge, I don’t want to diminish that as a value, but I think what people found as they tried to implement the various systems and methodologies to do that is there wasn’t really a lot of motivation for people to invest the time and effort to develop and define those stocks and make them available as part of a broader repository.
This kind of approach really shifts the attention from stocks of knowledge, what we know today, to defining and developing new knowledge, addressing critical performance objectives that the company, the firm, has in front of it, so that you’re driving and not by learning in the abstract, but because there is a real performance challenge in front of us; how do we identify the right people, bring them together, create the environments, and by the way; because of the digital platforms that we have now, as we create these environments, we are capturing, as a byproduct, the knowledge that’s created as part of that environment. So, it becomes available to others but it is not the primary focus. It’s a byproduct.