Sales & Marketing

Does Your Pharma Sales Model Need a Booster Shot?

The pharmaceutical marketplace is evolving in fundamental ways – perhaps at a pace more rapid than any other B2B industry. In our work with some of the world’s largest pharmaceutical companies, we’re seeing the transformation first hand.

What’s changing? Business models, decision-makers, reimbursement models, access to information, buyer profiles… the list is long. So long, in fact, that I’d venture to say it’s much simpler to list what’s NOT changing: your mission to help doctors deliver innovative solutions and better service, leading to improved patient outcomes.

You just need to go about it in a different way.

Not surprisingly, the sales model you’ve relied on in the past no longer delivers the results you need. In fact, you aren’t even sure you need sales reps anymore – but trust me, you do. The key is to reinvent the pharma sales rep role in a way that embraces obstacles as opportunities and changes as renewed chances for success.

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Case in Point

A major pharmaceutical company recently reached out to Blueline Simulations for help in revamping its sales model to better meet evolving market conditions and customer expectations.

Building on the company’s market research that clearly showed most customers still value pharmaceutical sales reps but don’t value the industry’s standard sales approach, we used our Voice of the Business (VoB) process to identify what was needed in a new sales model.

Using our VoB process, we culled our client’s research for insights and identified best practices in existing pockets of success. Then, drawing on our decades of sales training experience, we worked with our client to map out a new customer-focused sales model, define the core skills and competencies required to execute the new model and identify key triggers we could use to engage and inspire the sales reps.

Of course, designing a new sales model is only the beginning. The real key to results is driving adoption in the field – getting the sales reps to understand and embrace their new customer-centric roles. The company designated three states to test the new approach and partnered with Blueline to create the rollout strategy.

The training design utilized a custom Blueline Blueprint Learning Visual as the central element in a three-day meeting where sales reps were introduced to the new sales model. We used the Blueprint as a launch point for a broad range of sales manager-led practice and coaching activities – to provide practice and allow time to address questions and concerns.

The six-month test was a success. Based on learnings from the initial pilot, the sales model was further refined and then rolled out across the United States and eventually, with adjustments for local markets, applied across the world.

Pharmaceutical companies are in a position to literally redefine the sales rep role… to replace traditional sales models with models that put service and solutions at the forefront… to create models that ultimately lead to improved patient outcomes. That’s where Blueline comes in.

Contact us today! Together we can explore and implement proven solutions that will give your pharma sales model a shot in the arm and get you back on the fast track to results.

Has an evolving marketplace required a change in your sales model?

Your marketplace is changing in fundamental ways. Your customer’s business model has changed.  The decision makers have changed.  Not surprisingly, the sales model that you and your competitors have relied on for decades is no longer delivering the results you need.  You aren’t sure that you even need a sales force anymore.  But there are pockets of success in your organization.

What do you do?

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Are your customers’ expectations changing significantly?

Is your market rapidly shifting?blueline-action

Is your historically successful sales model no longer getting the results you need?

What Do You Do When Your Sales Model No Longer Works?

Your marketplace is changing in fundamental ways. Your customer’s business model has changed. The decision makers have changed. Not surprisingly, the sales model that you and your competitors have relied on for decades is no longer delivering the results you need. You aren’t sure that you even need a sales force anymore. But there are pockets of success in your organization.

Read about how one major pharmaceutical company reached out to Blueline Simulations to help revamp their sales model.

Challenger Sale: Selling With Insight

I am very proud to say that I was taught SPIN Selling by the pioneer of that method, Neil Rackham himself. That was nearly 25 years ago, and since then I have dedicated my professional life to uncovering my customers’ unique needs and solving challenges for them; and to teaching others to do the same.

So I was, of course, brought up short by a colleague of mine who told me that the future of sales had changed and that I needed to change with it.  She simply said: “you absolutely, positively, must read The Challenger Sale.”

Secretly, I wondered if the train had left the station without me on it. So I dutifully ordered the audio book and while my wife and oldest son slept on our fall trip to drop him off at Wake Forest University, I immersed myself in a new world of selling.

The basic premise of the book for me was simple: “today’s customer values insights and education every bit as much as they value service and your knowledge of their business and its unique needs.”  Said another way, “you don’t have a great value proposition unless you can bring insights and value that they didn’t know they needed to the first conversation.”

Wow!  Talk about a wake up call!  This was completely transformational to me.  And on the way back home, I pondered Blueline’s value proposition and asked myself the question: Does Blueline bring insights and value to its prospective customers?

The answer is yes and no. We do, but we didn’t used to lead with it.  Our focus has always been on asking questions so that we had a clear understanding of need and then formulating an opinion about the best way to solve for that need.  And that’s still a good model.  But today’s customers demand that you prove yourself by bringing insights to them before they will commit the time to help you to understand their challenges.  That’s as true for my customers as it is for yours.

So we set about to rethink our initial interactions with prospective clients.  Today, we start by making the case for using business simulations and the case for engaging their people.  We share insights about the evolving demographics of their workforce and the often-misrepresented role that engagement plays in changing belief systems, retaining knowledge, and transforming skills.  Further, we make the case for a mix of technologies that maximize the impact of a three-pronged learning strategy that includes reference, immersion and community.  And by doing so, we earn the right to explore the unique requirements of our client, and to put forth a recommendation.

Today, we have set our sights on transforming the way we serve up these insights and others via our web site.  I hope that you will return often and explore the fruits of our labors in the coming months.

Meantime, if you are wrestling with how to meaningfully implement the Challenger Sale, the team at Blueline has been there and done that and would be delighted to share our insights with you.

How “Fly Swatter Phonics” Can Help Solve Your Next Training Challenge! Part Two.

Last week, we started exploring the connection between having fun and actually learning…something my 4-year old grandson does by “swatting flies” as he’s learning to read. A key takeaway from that discussion was to keep your training content relevant and manageable. Otherwise, there’s a good chance the “fun-o-meter” will register pretty low. This week, we’re picking up there.

We often hear clients say something like this: “We rolled out training, but we can’t keep people’s attention. They aren’t engaged. What can you suggest?” Remember the client from last week? The one with the bazillion PowerPoint slides? What we discovered was their training wasn’t connected to people’s everyday work in a real, practical and believable way.

Our suggestion was to rebuild the training to simulate the learner’s real world. We felt it was critical to give people a chance to immediately apply what they were learning in meaningful ways and get immediate feedback at the same time. I’m happy to report that the client loved the idea, we built it, and it was a huge success! People remained engaged the entire time as they practiced “fly swatting” the way they would be doing on the job. The takeaway? If you want to make training fun, engage the learner through realistic practice!

In “Fly Swatter Phonics” the game mechanics were pretty simple. There was a fly swatter, some 3” x 5” cards, a blackboard and a few rules. But it wasn’t the game itself that made the learning fun. It was the fact that my grandson was actively involved in the learning. He wasn’t just a bystander. He was doing something. He was participating. He was making decisions. He was competing, appropriately, with his peers. He was responsible for earning his rewards or watching others earn theirs. These are the things that made it fun. (A fly swatter without purpose is just another fly swatter!)

When our client handed over all of those PowerPoint slides, we knew immediately that we had to find a way to make participants active learners rather than passive ones. We did that through the simulation. We also did it through a self-directed learning visual where, with minimal facilitation, teams navigated themselves through a collection of activities, team discussions, applications and mini-challenges.

Here’s what ‘our client of many slides’ had to say about their new program: “CONGRATULATIONS! The new training was amazing! What an improvement over the old method. Thank you on behalf of all involved. I would be very surprised if there was one person in the room who did not gain from the two days.” The takeaway? If you want to make training fun, involve the learner in the learning!

We at Blueline Simulations believe there’s no good reason—and no good way—for effective learning to be boring or passive. Let us help you swat your biggest training challenges!