Don’t be afraid to change

Sales & Marketing
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The digital revolution generated by the pandemic fractured lines of connection and severed the life-blood of being able to meet with clinicians for sales teams and MSLs.

It created a fundamental shift in operating practice that has skewed product launches, sales and scientific communication but experts are advocating that companies embrace the change and use it to energise performance.

Recognising that doors will never open as often and as wide as pre-pandemic days is a critical learning and coaching gurus believe the new climate comes with golden conditions to underscore the fundamentals of communication.

Presenting information clearly and succinctly is imperative as the chances to get face-to-face or even telephone time becomes scarcer. Sticking to traditional approaches and metrics will lead to ever-diminishing returns while working on and refining communications can be the springboard to success.

Changing a time-honoured and productive way of working is never easy but previous rules of engagement have gone; to refuse to change is to embrace failure, the experts say.

“Part of the resistance to change is the notion that if a clinician likes me, they will use my product,” says Rob Crossan, a pharma sales veteran with previous senior roles at MSD and Mundipharma. “Everybody would be happier if that were true because making friends is much easier than persuading someone with a complex argument.

“If you are operating in a tight, complicated market then the most compelling argument wins and that’s where a lot of companies fall down by not presenting their argument in the best possible light or presenting their product in the best possible way.”

Evidence shows that having a compelling narrative infuses confidence and conviction into sales forces and enables their messages to thrive irrespective of prior relationship status.

The benefit of focussed training and coaching is amplified in the whitepaper Genuine Transformation: Preparing for Pharma’s New Sales Coaching Reality which examines rapidly changing sector dynamics and highlights practical solutions.

Luis Medina, marketing manager at Nestle Canada, who has a wealth of experience across pharmaceutical, healthcare and food industries, believes industry needs to put more work into coaching and that communication skills should be prioritised from top down.

“We tend to overlook communication skills when we should be raising that skill set because our people are ambassadors for the company,” he says. “They are the ones communicating our message and we need to ensure they are doing it effectively.

“We should prioritise that and we are certainly putting in efforts to enhance the process of communication skills development.

“There is a need for organisations to empower their teams with tools, training, strategy, mentoring and coaching. We have been using face-to-face engagement for generations so the change is considerable and requires extra effort. But not changing and not developing and improving is not an option.”

Devoting time to developing and refining your messaging pays dividends, leading to better results and the ability to cement new relations with clinicians in this new digital environment.

Resistance to change is unwise and unproductive and a quote attributed to Albert Einstein sums up the need to embrace productive coaching techniques for sales and MSL teams: He was clear: “The measure of intelligence is the ability to change.”

About the interviewees

Rob Crossan B.Sc. (Hons) MRSB. Is companion animal business manager at Virbac Australia. Following a brief career in Marine Biology, he has spent the last 32 years in Pharmaceutical sales, predominantly in Sales Management.  Currently combining a lifelong passion for animals with pharmaceutical sales and coaching as the Companion Animal Business Manager at Virbac Australia.

Luis Medina is marketing manager at Nestle. He has +13 years of experience in the Food, Healthcare and Pharmaceutical industry in the roles of marketing and sales. Based in 3 different countries in Europe, Latin America, and North America supporting the development of the Medical Sales teams and executing marketing strategies in the medical channel.


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19 January, 2022