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Navigating Unknown Waters: Bio-Pharma Field Rep Survey Insights

Recent events in the bio-pharma sector have companies wondering how to navigate unknown waters. Market changes are accelerating, forcing the industry to face unexpected predicaments. The most challenging market dynamics include supply chain disruptions, reimbursement changes, price pressures, competitor product launches and decreased access to decision-makers. While any of these events would cause a market shift, the combination of these issues raises new concerns about developing and maintaining a consistent go-to-market strategy. Alexander Group’s research addresses these matters including:

  • New competitors with novel therapies are flooding the market. An estimated 75% of clinical trials now occur outside “Big Pharma” companies and 50% of new products are orphan drugs.
  • Production and adoption of biosimilars continues to increase. As prices of original products increase, biosimilars become a more acceptable alternative.
  • Artificial intelligence is accelerating clinical trials. Advances in machine learning have accelerated the drug discovery process.
  • Labor costs and compensation are on the rise. In a competitive labor market, bio-pharma companies must compete for the best talent by offering attractive compensation plans.

The confluence of these events is having a marked impact on bio-pharma firms. So, what will have to change to ensure they meet aggressive growth targets, keep the customer at the center of their go-to-market model and realign their sales team?

A New Era for Bio-Pharma Sales Reps

It will be difficult for bio-pharma firms to adapt to the evolving market without reinventing their sales rep model. Attracting new, high-quality talent will be problematic unless the firms can prepare their sales reps to handle these new challenges. Customers will also be impacted by the industry changes, requiring innovative solutions and internal alignment to support evolving customer demands.

Alexander Group’s research indicates that firms will have to build a “Bio-Pharma Rep of the Future” comprised of four key attributes:

  1. Providing support from alternative resources. Differentiated resources and models support top-performing reps. High performing companies invest much more in alternative roles such as key account managers, reimbursement specialists and case managers. Additionally, high performers have 42% more managed care headcount. These types of roles off-load low-value tasks from the primary seller and cost significantly less to employ than traditional field reps.
  2. Leveraging virtual channels. Physician interaction preferences have permanently shifted, and physicians prefer a 60/40 split between in-person and virtual interactions. Interactions with existing suppliers that do not focus on clinical outcomes are often preferred to take place via a virtual channel. The most successful reps understand how to leverage various digital capabilities. Customer engagement tools (e.g., digital marketing, inside sales and service portals) and seller enablement tools (e.g., automated lead generation, behavioral targeting and predictive analytics) are essential components of a high performing sales force.
  3. Aligning sales compensation with strategy. Pay levels must align with therapeutic focus and sales motions to be effective. Turnover is reaching a historic high at 20% as the current competitive job market is fierce, and 77% of bio-pharma reps are open to other job opportunities. As a result, pay levels continue to rise, and companies must offer competitive pay to attract high-quality talent. Total target compensation at high-performing companies is now 6% higher than lower-performing peers, and compensation also increases with higher clinical intensity roles.
  4. Utilizing omnichannel capabilities. High-performing companies have a more advanced omnichannel strategy and are 48% more effective at utilizing the strategies compared to their competitors. An effective omnichannel process should work in tandem with the primary sales rep, freeing time to focus on high-priority accounts.

Sales reps are entering a new era of selling, and high-performing companies provide the right combination of tools and strategies to help them excel.

How to Know If You Are New Sales-Era Ready

High-performing companies have a higher percentage of reps that achieve quota, supporting corporate growth plans. However, sustaining this level of success requires critical investments to produce above-average results.

Your company may already have some of these fundamental investments in place. But how do you know if your reps and tools are performing up to par? Consider these questions to evaluate your new sales-era readiness.

Alternative resources
Do you have the correct mix of core and alternative roles that drive cost-efficient productivity and meet evolving customer expectations?

Compensation alignment
Does your current comp plan align with your corporate strategy and growth goals?

Virtual channels
Are you successfully leveraging digital customer engagement and seller enablement tools for greater productivity?

Omnichannel
Does your omnichannel strategy support customers and your core sellers?

High-performing companies are leveraging their investments in these areas to drive both growth and cost-efficiency. While these companies recognize it is difficult to predict market behavior, they understand how critical it is to invest in their sales reps with leading tools that help the company pivot to new demands.

Alexander Group is available to help with commercial model transformation alongside these industry changes. Contact a Healthcare practice leader today to see how we can help your organization.

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