The digital revolution has changed the sales landscape in all industries, redefining what it takes to be a market leader. So why is the pharma industry so hesitant to follow suit?
The impact of digital has fundamentally changed business models across UK industries over the last 10, or so, years. The surge in new technology and digital platforms has empowered companies to interact with their customers in a variety of channels.
According to Forrester, 73% of Millennials are involved in B2B purchasing decisions now, and this has driven a change in buyer expectations – they have different mindsets and preferences. Forrester reports that over the next few years, B2B buyers who research online are expected to rise from 38% to 55% – and their expectations are shaped from B2C experiences.
Following a survey from McKinsey, research has demonstrated that the fastest-growing B2B companies use digital and inside sales channels more effectively than slower-growing companies. The research also states that the drastic changes in buyer preferences, and an increase in more technically savvy customers, has led to “a new breed of sales leaders who bring technical expertise and a strategic mind-set. This is also transforming what sales organizations look like, with a sharp reduction in field sales and marketing, and rapid growth in inside sales and analytics teams.”
McKinsey continues that this modern approach to B2B sales is “data-driven, enabled by digital tools, underpinned by advanced analytics, and focused on really understanding the ‘what, why, and when’ of the customer”.
Companies that have adopted new, digital modes of communication have started to pull away from their competitors in terms of revenue and growth. According to Forrester, the decline of field sales across B2B industries, reflects the robust growth of inside sales and digital channels – which should come as a warning sign to those pharma companies not already convinced.
So why is pharma failing to keep up with B2B digital trends?
ATKearney states that “despite being an information-intensive industry, healthcare’s business model has remained strangely unaffected by the digital revolution until recently. Health is delivered in much the same way as it has always been, and the innate conservatism of the industry means it lags in usage of all the main digital technologies.”
It appears that in an industry consumed by stringent regulations, the over-cautious approach to digital has been intensified by a fear of reprisal. Add to this the trepidation of taking a supposed career risk, and it’s clear to see why digital progression has been side lined for traditional, tried and tested, field sales. But looking at many other B2B industries in the UK, the digital evidence all points towards success. If the B2B industry is evolving at such pace, driven by customers’ B2C experiences, then pharma should be no different.
However, it’s also important to understand that despite the decline in field sales across B2B industries, this doesn’t spell the end of road sales representatives. Sales professionals need to be optimised with technology, but critically, they also need to buy-in to the multi-channel concept. It’s not enough to just bolt-on digital platforms to a tired and outdated model. For commercial success, companies need to adapt to change and develop a new strategy with digital at its very core, or risk losing ground to more progressive competitors.
How digital can optimise pharma sales?
Not only can digital and technology advances impact the expectations of our customers, and the channels we use to sell to them, it also enables pharma companies to work smarter. By harnessing industry data and utilising the latest intelligence, sales teams can be flexibly deployed with real-time project analytics, so all decisions are data-driven.
At OUTiCO we have spent the last 5 years refining our sales model and building our own database of HCP contacts. We are the first Multi-Channel Sales company in the pharma industry, communicating with Health Care Professional’s via their preferred sales channel, providing more HCP access options and opportunities. Our unique accessibility data along with the latest digital tools allows us to flexibly deploy exceptional sales professionals in Market Access, Secondary Care, Primary Care projects. As such we continually deliver excellent case studies that prove this model works and substantiates that ‘Multi-Channel’ selling is the future.
To view case studies which prove that multi-channel account managers can outperform road sales representatives, click here to read or download.