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How Can You Best Align Your Pharma Marketing and Sales Teams?

By Mike Knapp 05.27.20

It’s time to fix the Marketing vs. Sales dynamic once and for all. For the near 20 years that I have been involved in Life Sciences as a marketer, everyone in the industry has discussed, analyzed, and problem-solved the dynamics of marketing and sales roles in engaging Health Care Professionals (HCPs) and growing the business.

As an industry, Life Sciences grew up with an in-person sales force as the core of its demand generation engine, and that proved enormously successful — until recently. That once-effective model has eroded over the years, primarily due to lack of access to HCPS and their staff. But why?

Delivering more value

The problem is a lack of perceived value by the HCPs, and there is plenty of blame to spread around. When value isn’t immediately perceptible, that falls not only on marketing or sales, but on leadership, “share of voice’ metrics, and even regulatory limitations. Because let’s be honest, if HCPs valued the information provided or method of interaction, they would make the time in their practice to hear it.

Beyond that, HCPs also know that there’s more than one way to get that information thanks to technology advancements over the years. And unfortunately, Pharma has been slow to adjust, resulting in the reps defaulting on sample distributions as their best means of access. Even that is less relevant now given the nature of today’s specialty drugs (e.g. biologics) that can’t just be dropped off. 

HCPs are consumers in their personal lives — so they have high expectations around technology and delivery mechanisms that provide a personalized and timely customer experience along with their solution. And those expectations port over into their professional lives (whether they realize it or not). 

While perceived value is the responsibility of many departments — the brunt of the pressure falls on either marketing or sales to deliver results. Either, or, but rarely both.

Why can’t we be friends?

There is no doubt that many factors contribute to Pharma’s low adoption rates with new technology, for example: lack of enterprise agility, fear of being tied to a technology, organizational change management (historical in-person models, and regulatory restrictions of promotion), and lack of internal expertise. To combat that, we need to better target their needs.

How long have we in Life Sciences been talking about sending the right message, at the right time, with the right channel? (Since 2005 at least, according to this Harvard Business Review piece.) And if it’s been a topic of conversation for so long — why haven’t most companies done anything about it?

If marketing and sales teams can collaborate seamlessly on what, when, and how to deliver a message, perceived value can easily be created, and transformed over time into known quality. But first, marketing teams and sales teams need to be seen as collaborative rather than combative forces. And to do that, they need a tool to help them connect on strategy and collect data.

Technologies like Salesforce Marketing Cloud and Distributed Marketing are designed to sync up marketing and sales efforts by: 

  • Gathering insights on HCP preferences from both marketing and sales with line of sight for both
  • Aligning marketing messages and campaigns
  • Providing marketing “air cover” for reps 
  • Empowering reps to send personalized information and campaigns to each HCP
  • Triggering marketing and sample fulfillment
  • Creating and deploying best-practice consumer journeys from marketing to sales teams

Distributed marketing brings it all together

The crux of distributed marketing is coordinating between marketing and sales to allow sales to personalize their interactions via marketing tools and campaigns. In this way, the sales teams become an extension of the marketing team. Or rather, two branches formed from the same trunk.

Let’s use a hypothetical example. An already launched product was recently approved for a new indication. The marketing team creates and executes a multi-channel marketing program consisting of both traditional and digital channels along with sales enablement tools like reprints, and updated ‘detailing’ materials. 

By leveraging a platform like Marketing Cloud and its Distributed Marketing extension, both the marketing and sales teams can learn of an individual HCP’s engagement with the brand and respond to HCP requests. So, when a sales rep goes into an HCP visit, they will already know if that particular HCP has seen the information or even asked for more information. This allows the rep to better prepare for the in-person sales call. 

Additional functionality provides the ability to create campaigns for the reps, arming them with pre-approved templates and content that allows for a small degree of personalization when sent directly from the rep. The rep chooses which campaign to send based on the interaction. It could be as simple as a post sales call Thank you, a follow up with requested information sent electronically via the rep, or something more complex like a personal invitation to a dinner program or web event. 

And of course, all the information is easily analyzed and reported to both marketing and sales so they can both understand effectiveness and where the HCP may be on the journey. 

Marketing and Sales: together at last

Traditionally, this kind of distributed marketing model has been used by global marketing teams to empower and allow for customization to local marketing teams in various geographies. However, integrating it with local marketing and sales teams can be an even more powerful approach to personalization and finally delivering on the right message, the right channel, at the right time.

Whether you have these solutions in place and are looking to optimize, or if you’re still determining how to improve your organization’s approach to personalized marketing for HCPs and beyond, Silverline is poised to help. We understand the pharma ecosystem with hundreds of successful, custom implementations solving problems just like these. 

When you’re ready to make your move, we’ll be here. Get in touch.

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