One of the most important achievements in our digitally connected world is that anybody at any time and from anywhere can get almost any information she/he needs on the products and services we sell with just a few clicks. This information might be provided by our digital marketing team or, and that happens more and more, by third parties. Whereas the information provided by our marketing colleagues will be positive and promotional, it will generally be perceived as less credible than the information provided by third parties that might either be positive or negative like it happens, for instance, with customer reviews.

And as this will for sure have an impact on our sales processes, making it at all levels strikingly different, our salespeople cannot ignore this aspect in their daily selling job. While it might look obvious for some (mostly B2C) businesses like travel and hospitality, it is still not so obvious at this time for the pharma and biotech business, mainly due to legal restrictions. However, as there is no doubt that there are still a lot of opportunities to be met through digital marketing, there is no doubt either that the first and best players to meet them will acquire a strong and long-lasting competitive advantage.

Let’s see through the 5 following advices how you may reach this ambitious goal:

1.  Make your digital marketing people and your salespeople work together

Bridging the gap between marketing and sales is one of the most important key success factors and also a major challenge for companies’ executives. The first step to make marketing and salespeople feel and work as a team is to make sure that they share the same goals in terms of revenue, customer acquisition and customer retention. It may sound obvious, but for many reasons, it’s not always the case, or perceived as being the case. The second step is to ease and encourage communication at all levels both formally (for instance through regular cross-department meetings) and informally (for instance having them sharing the same workspace). The third step is to give them access to and make them use the same technologies in terms of CRM and marketing automation and to measure their performance through the same KPIs.

 

2.  Sensitize and keep on training your salespeople on the use of digital tools

Providers of digital tools are under constant competitive pressure and have to develop very rapidly new features to bring new benefits to the market. And they can obviously be much faster than pharma or biotech companies are in terms of time to market. What does change is not that much the product to be sold but the way to sell it, the way to identify the prospects, the way to generate leads, the way to retain customers and the places where to meet them. Leading CRM solution providers like salesforce have developed optimized solutions for pharma and biotech companies[1], professional social networks like linkedIn also offer sales solutions[2]. Implementing these tools do represent technical and financial challenges so making sure your salespeople will use them in the best possible way is crucial.

 

3.  Involve your salespeople on social media, respecting the rules

Due to legal restrictions, biotech and pharma companies’ communication on the web in general and particularly on social media, is an extremely sensitive issue. Most of the time salespeople are well trained on what they are allowed and what they are not allowed to say and do offline. When it comes to online communication it is of course limited to few – highly specialized – people with marketing and communication skills. But this does not mean that salespeople have to ignore what is being done, on the contrary. It is important that they follow the company pages on social media, engage and share content with their own network, read the comments and are aware of any public information the company releases. As she/he is offline, also online a salesperson has to be an ambassador of the company she/he works for.

4.  Don’t let technology replace interpersonal relationships

In sales, and even more in the healthcare environment, the human factor is a key to success. We spoke previously about CRM and marketing automation software, but we want to be clear about these: they have to be used to save human time. In other words, they have to allow our salespeople to dedicate more time to their customers and build strong interpersonal relationships with them. We also spoke about social media and social networks: we should not forget that their beauty is to help people socialize. So, it’s not only a page sending unidirectional messages to people like a website would do but it is a company made of people communicating with other people in a multidirectional way: talking and listening.

 

 

5.  Hire open-minded salespersons with a deep industry knowledge

We can never say it enough: the pharma and biotech industries are like no others for many reasons. We mentioned regulations, time to market and the importance of the human aspect. We could have spoken as well about product life cycles and complexity of the value proposition to stakeholders who can have divergent interests. Therefore, the industry culture is a very important asset to take into consideration when hiring a new employee. At the same time, culture must not be a barrier to adoption of new approaches, new tools and new skills. More than ever, your business success depends on your ability to find these rare jewels who will combine these extraordinary skills with a passion for sales and an obsession for business development.

And they are exactly the people Bio-Hire will recruit for you.