In a 2015 survey, a majority of executives believed their companies would be restructuring their commercial models over the next two years. This change is already happening, driven by shifts in the healthcare landscape – shrinking brand size, the need to demonstrate value, more complex medicines and more sophistication in the payer environment, as well as downward pressure on cost and the impact of digital transformation.
In this evolving landscape, companies are moving well beyond the simple promotion of products – from ‘pile it high and shout about’ to genuine efforts to develop multifaceted, in- depth and long-term relationships. They are engaging prescribers, payers and patients – among many other stakeholders – to better understand their needs and to deliver solutions that are tailored to the individual preferences of each stakeholder and customer.
To embrace this complexity, internal silos are breaking down. Sales and marketing, already close companions, are converging into integrated commercial teams. The role of the sales rep is evolving once again as customer service reps and medical science liaisons engage customers in more sophisticated ways. Driven by a focus on ‘customer experience’, companies are increasingly using key account management and multichannel marketing, while the realities of patient-centricity are further shaping new commercial strategies.
Beyond sales and marketing, the entire pharma organization is working cross-functionally more than ever before, drawing on internal expertise from silos as diverse as R&D, health economics and outcomes research, regulatory and medical, to develop and deliver these new solutions.
Change is never easy and challenges abound. Companies still struggle to create truly customer- centric digital content, while strategic planning is often hampered by the need to ‘do something fast’. The logistics of integration are a major challenge, establishing the boundaries between functions and linking front and back of ce capabilities. Resistance to change continues to slow progress, often hidden behind the mask of ‘compliance’.
New models are emerging in forward-thinking companies, offering glimpses of possible futures, although with no single model coming to the fore many companies lag behind. While there will always be a place for sales, marketing and medical capabilities, in the near future, all may be working together as an integrated ‘customer engagement’ department.