The main challenges in health and life sciences sales + how to solve them

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With the rapid pace of progress and technology, the commercial engagement landscape has changed forever. Sales teams in the health and life sciences industries face new challenges in communicating with their customers in meaningful and engaging ways.

To help commercial teams navigate the new omnichannel (hybrid) sales environment and keep up with the pace of digitalization, companies are scaling up training. Yet, it’s not enough.

Commercial leaders have learned that keeping up with changed modern buyer profiles requires more consultative customer conversations, more personalized engagement, and a digital ecosystem that’s capable of supporting more connected sales and marketing functions. To overcome these challenges, leading companies are swiftly incorporating e-detailing and sales enablement tools to help equip their teams for success.

 

The challenges of the health and life sciences sales landscape

Today, health and life sciences companies are under more pressure than ever before. Competition is harsh, and restricted access to HCPs, complex patient engagement processes and government regulations prevail.

Digital expansion is also prevalent in the health and life sciences arena. Nowadays, both patient and HCP are more open to telemedicine and HCPs are prepared to expand their use of virtual services.

There has been a big shift since the COVID-19 pandemic, meaning most patients and customers expect services and content to be personalized. This has brought an increased need for data-driven patient and customer segmentation, with companies investing massively in marketing intelligence.

On top of this, the sales landscape has also changed. According to Gartner, today, approximately 70% of the entire B2B buyer journey is handled independently by the buyer and their team before ever talking to a sales rep (see Gartner visual below).

 

Similarly, health and life sciences organizations’ customers are becoming increasingly more organized and consolidated. Buyer groups, such as Integrated Distributor Networks (IDNs), have started to play an important role in the buying decision process across multiple health care institutions.

Are you a VP of Sales, Head of Sales Enablement/ Commercial Excellence or CMO for a large health and life sciences organization? This blog will go through the most common pain points in our experience of talking to our C-suite customers. It also suggests some questions for you to ask that will help you fully understand your requirements and explain how software could help solve your main pain points.

 

VP of Sales / Head of Commercial

As a Head of Sales, your main areas of responsibility include driving sustained business growth through customer engagement and managing your team in executing the set commercial strategies with excellence. As a Head of Sales, you're used to developing your team’s capabilities through performance-based coaching. You manage the effectiveness of the sales team to optimize the time spent with customers in a compliant manner. And you work closely with marketing, medical and scientific affairs, and medical science liaisons (MSL) to execute new products and channel activities and promotions.

 

Common VP of Sales challenges and measures of success

Customer retention is a key objective. It’s tricky to have a holistic view of all sales territories and track performance KPIs coherently, and there’s a need for constant enablement for new joiners.

 

There might be a lack of strategic and analytical skills and tools in your team. 

Often, the effectiveness of sales visits is not always clear, and there is not an agile way to redistribute sales reps to new territories, coach them and enable all resources as needed. You might find that reps’ career progression is often flat and not transparent. Sound familiar?

Your measures of success are the volume and value of share growth, advocacy progression, compliance levels, utilization of communication assets by field sales as per target segment, visit coverage in driving needs-based advocacy, omnichannel cycle plan accuracy, and top-of-mind positioning versus the competition.

 

Questions to assess your challenges and requirements 

We’ve compiled a few questions for you to ask internally (or to ask one of our representatives) to understand your unique needs. The aim of this is to identify any risk areas and encourage discussion and alignment internally.

 

  • How does your sales team execute and plan engagement at HCP and HCO level?
  • What works well and what could/should be improved?
  • How effectively would you say your commercial strategies are executed? How do you collaborate with marketing, medical affairs and compliance in driving growth? What role could technology play in facilitating this process?
  • How do you collaborate with external key stakeholders (KOL, etc.), especially in this new virtual world?
  • How do you use the data and knowledge about your customers to create actionable insights? How well do your sales enablement platforms allow you to capture the relevant data in the right format and place?
  • How do you onboard, coach and enable your medical sales reps and their line managers? How important to you is coaching the sales organization and what is needed to evaluate its proper application in driving sustained performance?
  • What does your segmentation strategy look like and does it allow proper targeting? How does this get captured in your MCCP/OCCP? How well does this work for your people?
  • How do you measure your teams’ success? How do you measure customer feedback?
  • What are your unique selling points (USP)? What competitive insights are important to you? How and where do you capture these?
  • What omnichannel//CRM solutions do you use today? Are they different per market? What does the ideal picture look like for you?

 

How software can help manage health and life sciences professionals’ challenges 

Today, commercial teams are looking to find a seamless way to do their daily jobs seamlessly. They need to connect to the right HCPs/HCOs/other key stakeholders at the right time, through the right channel, for the right purpose, with the right message, and supported by the right content. The tools and capabilities they use need to deliver the right actionable insights in an iterative way. They need to offer their customers a seamless, consistent, logically orchestrated, personalized and value-adding experience straight away.

 

Leveraging sales enablement software is a great way to ensure you’re communicating with your prospects and customers in a compliant way, when needed and in the channels your prospects prefer.

 Intuitive sales enablement software should be able to fully support you as you transform your commercial omnichannel execution framework. It can help you plan, market and execute in collaboration with your customers and their patients. With an advanced solution, you could manage your key accounts and key stakeholders to drive advocacy and sustained business growth.

Another essential capability is content management and automation, where you can tailor content to the right audience and the right channel at the right time. A good tool allows you to optimize your field execution by enabling field engagement teams to turn every account into a perfect one. A solid omnichannel engagement capability lets your team engage and support customers through their engagement channels of choice.

And last but not least, having a strong coaching and training function means that you can train, support and coach your teams anywhere, anytime. (Pitcher does all of the above.)

 

Sales enablement Q&A for Head of Sales roles

Utilizing sales enablement software could potentially help you overcome the challenges you and your team are facing on a daily basis. But how? And would it be suitable for your unique situation?

The questions below can help you understand how sales enablement software could help counter the challenges you are struggling with.

 

Q: We already have a CRM-based execution tool, so how’s this going to be different?

A: You need sales enablement software that is integrated with your CRM. In fact, it should be built based on the exact CRM you’re using, so that you know you’re getting the most out of it.

For example, Pitcher offers a super app that gives your entire commercial organization a unified platform that’s seamlessly integrated into your CRM (it’s actually built on the most-used CRMs globally). It provides data analytics, next-best actions, metadata tagging and customer segmentation. It also gives you a single view of your customer. This allows you to match the right customer with the right content, on the right channel, at the right time, and in a compliant framework. Your reps, KAMs and MSLs will have everything they need to plan, execute and measure the effectiveness of their customer visits in one place. Plus, they can even do all this when offline or on the road.

The Pitcher Super App brings you content automation, in-field execution and remote engagement all in one place, transforming the end-to-end rep experience.

 

Q: Sales enablement tool adoption has been an issue for our sales team. I understand not all tools are created equal, but what makes Pitcher different?

A: Our Pitcher Super App is as easy to use as a “consumer-grade” app. You don’t need a manual to use Facebook or LinkedIn, so neither should you need one to use Pitcher. Our product team has spent a lot of time shadowing reps in the field, experiencing first-hand what matters the most to them and building and adapting the product in an intuitive way.

 

Q: We have multiple complex channels in our company. How can a sales enablement solution support this?

A: What you need is well-integrated software that’s highly configurable to allow for adaptation to your bespoke needs. For example, Pitcher’s solution is collaborative by nature and has an open integration and set of prebuilt APIs. It’s more than capable of solving your complex, multi-channel interactions as a result. 

So what does this mean for you? Its highly configurable nature means you can make the Pitcher Super App into exactly what you need it to be, regardless of how complex your company is. Pitcher has plenty of existing customers who can attest to this.

 

Q: Compiling analytical reports and insights is always a cumbersome exercise. How can a sales enablement product help my team?

A: You need an all-in-one solution where your data is always up to date and easily accessible. With Pitcher Insight, it’s easy to connect our application to any other data sources you may have, so your commercial teams always have up-to-date actionable insights to hand. You can access Pitcher from wherever, whenever. Even when you’re offline. It’s all connected.

 

Q: We have lots of new joiners who need to be properly onboarded plus lots of veteran salespeople who could use upskilling too. We need a coaching solution that fits all of our needs.

A: Solid sales coaching and onboarding are some of the most important factors in predicting sales success. Up-to-date data is crucial, not only on the overall sales performance, but also on each rep’s performance so you know what sales coaching they need. With Pitcher Coaching 2.0, you can do just that.

Pitcher empowers individual reps to be more efficient and effective while providing management with real-time insight into how each rep is performing in the field. You get access to in-depth training, coaching and onboarding processes for new employees.

With Pitcher, you can:

 

  • Develop your team’s skills: Assess skills, share feedback on employees’ skills and track their progress over time.
  • Ensure certified sales engagement and output quality: Restrict access to sales collateral based on users acquiring certifications on certain sales skills.
  • Role play best practices: Record a role play, share with managers and peers and share those who are best rated within the organization.
  • Create personalized training paths: Send employees on personalized training paths via an internal microsite-based training academy.
  • Use rich templates: Choose from one of the existing templates and adapt it to your own requirements.
  • Build your own apps: Build your own apps based on the Pitcher SDK and well-documented APIs.

With Pitcher Insights, you can keep track of all reps’ coaching records and leverage the reporting capability to access reports both online and offline. You can easily capture any important observations from the field, transfer best practices across your team and provide instant feedback to individual team members who need it. Planning for success and tracking is easy as you get access to action plan items. You can track sales reps’ progress regularly, set and track objectives, and more.

Read more about Pitcher’s coaching solution here.

 

Q: For us, customer churn is a major issue. How could sales enablement software help?

A: You can fight customer churn with a deeper overview of your sales, as well as knowing what worked and what didn’t work, why customers are leaving and why the ones that stay, stay.

With sales enablement software, you can enable more meaningful engagement with your prospects and customers. Importantly, it can provide additional value as it can show the right content (which is interactive and personalized to suit that particular prospect) at the right time and in the right channel (the one they prefer to use).

Having deep customer insights and clear, clean data on your sales performance can also counteract churn. In the Pitcher platform, you can have exactly that.

 Do you have questions we haven’t answered? Get in touch to discuss your specific questions or needs with us.

 

Closing thoughts

As a key C-suite executive, your role as head of sales or CRO/CMO will always be highly challenging and exhausting at times. Often, your main challenges can be solved by obtaining and leveraging reliable sales and customer data, and having clear visibility of your field activities so you can counteract churn.

Getting a holistic view of all sales territories and tracking performance KPIs coherently, as well as having your team execute your strategy and optimize with data, is possible – and easy, too – with sales enablement software.

Just get in touch if you are curious to find out more.

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