What comes next: digital transformation in B2B life sciences sales

Sales & Marketing
Pharma sales rep talking to a GP over video conferencing

As the contours of a post-pandemic world begin to take shape, those working B2B sales in the life sciences acknowledge that the industry must adapt to some permanent shifts. Mert Yentur looks at what is next for the industry.

Even prior to COVID-19, sales teams reckoned with traditional online-only CRM systems that didn’t align well with the needs of health care providers’ customers. Market changes were leading to a kind of bifurcation among customers.

In certain subsectors, decisions are still made in the hospital and doctors’ offices among prospects who have little time, but nevertheless expect clinical depth. But in a growing section of the industry, procurement is solidly part of the business side of operations, and customers require less scientific knowledge and instead expect clear demonstration of value and ROI. Once the world moved to remote work, sales teams navigating these changes found themselves doing so in a rapidly changing digital environment and discovering that traditional tools and processes couldn’t match the demands of the moment.

The COVID-induced transition to digital transformation isn’t temporary, as a recent McKinsey report found that even for pharma and medical products – traditionally field-sales models – only 20% of B2B buyers say they hope to return to in-person sales.

As organisations strategise how to approach both the change in sales environments and the change in the buyers making purchasing decisions, below are some considerations for how digital sales enablement can help teams find post-pandemic sales success.

A customised, comprehensive solution for customers

Given time and attention constraints of potential customers, sales reps must maximise interactions with presentations that move quickly, engage the customer, and communicate differentiated value. Administrative tasks, managing a plethora of printed collateral, and toggling between applications all reduce the productivity of reps, wasting time and reducing the likelihood of maintaining a customer interest. Pursuing a digital-first strategy gives sales reps a holistic solution for sales enablement, irrespective of whether it is an in-person or remote interaction. Sales reps can present customisable presentations populated with data specific to the customer and their history, as well as with information that’s been proven effective with others in their market segment or what maps to specific personas.

Customisable content creates effective customer engagement. A recent study found that high performing B2B marketers leveraged collaboration between sales and marketing to deliver the right content at the right time to convert leads nearly 50% more than average performers. It also allows targeting of specific stakeholders, an especially critical step as a typical buying group for a B2B solution now involves 6-10 decision makers.

Consolidation leads to higher productivity

Though technological innovation has led to no shortage of digital tools created to maximise sales efforts, many organisations come nowhere close to realising their full value. In fact, 80% of sales executives are not confident about the adoption of the various sales technologies that they have deployed. Leaning into digital sales enablement solutions lets businesses maximise investment, and realise the full potential of productivity increases and field force effectiveness for which these tools were designed.

Beyond the initial show-and-tell conversation, the daily tasks of sales reps are broad and often time-consuming. The combination of in-person and virtual visits that will define B2B sales adds even more complexity. Deploying digital tools, and giving reps the ability to manage them centrally creates conditions for more engaging – and successful – interactions. Consolidating communication and presentation tools provides a seamless experience for a mix of in-person and remote attendees. Reps can leverage CRM and historical visit data to prepare calls and personalise interactions – even when offline – and literature and sample requests, orders, field notes, content interactions, and more can be captured in real-time and stored centrally. Unified access to everything from performance analysis and coaching to shelf audits and questionnaires and personalised post-visit microsites makes the lives of sales reps, sales managers and marketing departments more effective.

“The COVID-induced transition to digital transformation isn’t temporary”
Better field training creates better outcomes

According to a CSO Insights study, organisations that followed a dynamic coaching model saw an average win rate of nearly 8.8 points above the study’s average. The rapid transformations occurring in B2B sales give a fresh opportunity for sales organisations to invest in training and prepare reps for a digital-heavy frontier. Such an investment could be a key differentiator, as in the same study, organisations report that the type of training that received the least investment was social selling. This despite changing buyers’ preferences toward digital experiences; 70-80% of B2B decision-makers report that they now prefer remote interaction or digital self-service.

Digital tools not only equip sales reps with tools for interacting with customers, they can also equip those reps with the feedback and training they need to be as effective as possible.

Nearly 90% of B2B decision makers say that new commercial and go-to-market sales practices will be commonplace throughout 2021 and possibly beyond. While disruptive, the pandemic highlighted showcased the value of consolidating approaches to create a better experience for the customer, but also for the reps themselves.

About the author

Mert Yentur is the founder and CEO of Pitcher. Mert has more than 20 years of experience as a computer engineer and brings 10 years of mobile innovation to Pitcher. He started his career as a computer engineer and studied neuromorphic engineering at the University of Zurich before founding Pitcher.