Selling is hard, there's no arguing that. To meet this challenge head-on, most industries employ the five C's method of sales with great success.
But, some industries are more competitive than others, and the pharma industry falls within this window. So, how do the five C's apply to an industry that throws traditional sales out the window?
By playing by their own rules, of course.
The pharma industry does a lot of things a little differently - or very differently, depending on how you look at it - and it has worked out pretty well in the past.
One of the key differences between any other industry and the pharma industry is, all the selling is purely educational and no direct sales are executed in an actual "sales call."
Pharma companies are trying to connect with local prescribers and educate them about the benefits of prescribing their drugs. It is a rather complicated process that is driven by strict regulatory compliance and a relatively limited set of options.
Luckily, the pharma industry can harness the power of emerging technology to gain traction, instead of losing sales. The pharma industry captures and stores vast amounts of data sourced internally and externally, and developing and executing an effective sales strategy depends on the most effective use of the data available.
The Five C's of Pharma Sales and How They Can Affect Your Life Sciences Company
When it comes to hammering out the details of the five C's of pharma sales and how they affect productivity and the bottom line, first you have to figure out where your shortcomings are and if ramping up your sales operations is really the answer.
Ask yourselves a few of these questions:
- Are you competing in a crowded therapeutic area?
- Are your sales reps unhappy?
- Can you pinpoint exactly where your sales team is failing?
- Are your prescribers not getting the information they need to prescribe your drug?
- Are generics making it difficult for prescribers to write your drug?
If you answered "yes" to more than two of these questions, chances are good that you will benefit greatly from learning and implementing the five C's of pharma sales and the recommend components.
Let's dig in...
Ensuring that the company and your sales team have the proper configuration is the first step to enhancing your pharma sales process from the inside out.
While this step could also be called capabilities, it actually focuses more on whether your resources and assets are being properly leveraged, rather than what their individual skill-sets may be.
Proper pharma sales force alignment is a major hurdle that most pharma companies mus face at some point. In fact, most companies have scheduled re-alignment several times a year to ensure that they are getting the most out of their sales team.
Keeping your sales teams structured to meet the changing prescription habits of prescribers, identifying new prescribers, adjusting the targeting to meet a managed care strategy are some of the components which drive the realignment.
TIP: Here are three important things you should know about pharma territory alignment.
However, this doesn't just benefit the company's bottom line. A well-managed sales force alignment strategy, aided by dynamic sales operations software, also helps make sure that your sales reps are content and confident in their roles.
To help you get started with a regular pharma sales force alignment system, we've outlined 4 simple ways to prepare your team for end-of-year sales force realignments.
This article will not only help you get everyone ready in a pinch but also help you prepare for the year ahead by putting new protocols in place and optimize your existing alignment strategy.
One key aspect of sales, and any job, that transcends industries is the idea that any effective employee needs all of the tools to do their job. In pharma, we call that control.
Having complete control over your sales process says a lot about a company and how well-organized they are behind the scenes. A sales team that has all the answers at their disposal and a finger on the pulse of the industry is a rare commodity.
If your field reps don't have a 360-degree view of the prescribers that they are attending, it makes their job much more difficult and turns it into a guessing game.
Fortunately, there are lots of great platforms and systems out there to help streamline the process and put the ball back in your court.
Some great places to start to regain control over your sales process (and team) are:
Sales Operations Software: Manage the entirety of your sales operations from end to end, including alignment, field change requests, call planning, state licenses, affiliations, rep rosters and more.
Analytics and MDM Software: Gain rich insights into every aspect of your business from field reporting, incentive compensation, compliance and audit records, and the next best actions to take in nearly every area of sales.
Call Planning: Building a robust pre-call dashboard to provide a complete overview of all prescriber touch points, including prescription history, will make your reps ready for the valuable face time they get with the prescribers.
Having all of the tools to knock it out of the park in one place is the first step; while being able to interpret, understand, and convey the applicable data in the field brings it full circle for your sales team.
Luckily, most comprehensive pharma software platforms are intuitive and easy to integrate into your existing process.
When you think about selling something that is inherently difficult to sell, the first thing that comes to mind is probably confidence, right?
Well, having the confidence to be in sales in the first place is a great start, but having the confidence to make smart, data-driven decisions and the ability to provide the answer your territories are looking for is the better bet.
When it comes to pharma sales, your field sales reps must always have the information that they need to make snap decisions, formulate perfect responses, and even offer proof on the fly.
That's where a proven pharma data analytics engine with enhanced visualization comes in to play.
That's right; analytics play a HUGE role in selling, and selling well.
TIP: Here's a quick rundown of 5 key ways that pharma analytics helps boost sales operations efficiency.
The fact is that pharma data analytics, and many other technological advances, offer a competitive edge that the pharma industry has never had to date. It offers a deep well of information that highlights unique elements of your market like:
- Accurate sales forecasting.
- Commercial vs Medicare split (channel impact).
- Mature sales territory structuring.
- Needs-based customer segmentation.
- Value-based customer segmentation.
- Sales force allocation requirements based on geo-targeting.
- Year-over-year, Quarter-over-Quarter, Month-over-Month insights for a specific area.
Bottom line: Nearly 60% of highly performing sales teams leverage some sort of predictive analytics system to gain a foothold in the market. Don't get lost in the dust.
No matter your industry or the size of your team, great communication is one of the biggest factors of a successful sales team. But, unfortunately, communication tends to be a lost art these days.
More often than not, sales reps and prescribers are so busy and limited by compliance guidance that earnest communication is impossible, and ensuring that your point was heard and understood is not always a given.
This applies to internal company-wide communication as well.
Sometimes things happen quickly in the field, and your reps may not be able to relay those changes quickly enough to their managers. This results in botched task management and missed goals.
Fortunately, technology can help in this area as well.
A comprehensive sales-oriented CRM system can simplify and streamline internal and external communication across your entire organization.
Plus, when combined with a strong sales operations platform, this creates a powerhouse sales force system that gives you nearly all of the tools to make and keep a great sales record.
It is also imperative that the entire sales hierarchy, from National Sales Director to Field Reps, are leveraging the same set of datasets, tools, and processes to measure the results.
This ensures that everyone is on the same page at all times, no matter the distance or time difference.
As well anything, business-related or otherwise, if you want something done right...you've got to be consistent.
But, unfortunately, in industries with many moving parts, consistency is often a moving target perceived as an unattainable goal. However, in this technological age, it doesn't have to be.
Consistency only requires the right technology and a strong set of processes in place to hit the nail on the head each and every time.
Investing in a smart, integrated sales operations platform can help you:
- Be aware of and understand your sales cycle.
- Know where you stand with clear data insights.
- Plan and follow up with sales calls promptly.
- Setup and manage automated field workflows.
- View and manage alignment history and future-dated alignments.
Combined, these simple, yet powerful solutions can help you be more consistent in every aspect of your sales process and sales operations management.
Follow the C's to A Stronger Sales Team
It's no secret that pharma sales is a complex process. But, combining smart processes and proven technology with a talented sales team can revolutionize how your company performs in a crowded market.
By sticking closely to the five C's of pharma sales, you're sure to streamline the way you handle sales inside and out and how your sales team performs in the field.
- Configuration: Smart pharma sales territory alignment software.
- Control: Comprehensive sales operations and MDM software.
- Confidence: Integrated data analytics and pharma AI modules.
- Communication: Cloud-ready pharma CRM and call center management.
- Consistency: A solid combination of great technology and proven processes.
Have you experienced something profound during your time in the industry to add to this article? We'd love to hear about anything that can help other companies boost their sales operations.
If you're interested in learning more about how a comprehensive sales operations software platform can help you expand your sales process, get in touch with us for free today!