Consider for a moment how foreign today’s healthcare marketplace would be to a life science sales representative from just 10 years ago. The changes, though gradual, have rendered an ecosystem that would have been unrecognizable at the time.
For commercial sales and marketing teams in life science companies, virtually everything has changed – from who they address, to the channels they use, to the information they have available in planning their approach and measuring their success. After roughly 60 years, the industry’s sales model of field representatives calling upon healthcare professionals (HCPs) has given way to a team- or account-based, multi-channel approach to reaching a variety of stakeholders. The number of touchpoints with audiences has thus increased significantly, and it has become virtually impossible to manage them all without the right technology platform.
By working in vertical silos, commercial teams sometimes frustrate their customers with uncoordinated messages and activities, even to the point of damaging the company’s image. One physician interviewed by IQVIA explained, “If the company activities are poorly coordinated, I lose faith, and in some instances, confidence in the company. Often, my perception of the product may be significantly negatively biased because I feel the interactions reflect the professionalism and the knowledge of the company.”
We believe that the answer lies in adopting a strategy of Orchestrated Customer Engagement (OCE), a more dynamic and comprehensive form of Customer Relationship Management (CRM) technology. OCE is designed with the goal of coordinating and enabling greater intelligence with all customer-facing targeting, discussions and activities. Such orchestration is only possible with the advent of cloud-based technology platforms that deliver information about all customer interactions transparently, with context, precision and consistency.
It is important to understand not just what is possible technically with respect to OCE, but why it is necessary. Here we review the changes in the healthcare ecosystem and the life science sales environment that make OCE necessary today and explain what is required of customer engagement tools for companies to succeed.
SPEED IS THE NEW BUSINESS IMPERATIVE
The mega trend in the life science business is that speed has become a requirement of almost every aspect of people, processes and technology. The commercialization window is now mere months. While companies at one time could take years to set their sales trajectories, they now must drive awareness, trial and usage almost immediately. (Based on IQVIA’s Launch Excellence studies in the U.S., EU5, Japan and Canada, the first six months of a product launch have a disproportionate influence on later success for at least 80 percent of launches.) They can no longer afford to send sales reps door to door to slowly create sales, or even to use the postal service for direct mail.
At the same time, the marketplace is extremely dynamic, with market access opportunities/wins/losses changing frequently. Market access decisions are made annually, providing only a short period of consistency in a drug’s cost with a certain plan for a particular set of patients. As payer positions change, companies need to be ready and able to shift their commercialization resources quickly to take advantage of customer access and product profitability opportunities.
A DIFFERENT DEFINITION OF THE CUSTOMER
The healthcare professional (HCP) is no longer the sole target customer of life science companies. Customer stakeholders with decision-making power over which therapies are recommended, used and reimbursed within the healthcare system now include payers, integrated delivery networks (IDNs), hospital systems, clinics and nurse advisors/educators. And the organizational structures within these entities are complex and demand a more intelligent and coordinated approach that leverages data, technology and new processes.
At the same time, the makeup of the physician audience has been changing with the industry’s shift from developing and marketing blockbuster drugs with wide application to specialty drugs indicated for small patient populations. The share of global pharmaceutical spending attributed to specialty products has risen from 19 percent in 2007 to 32 percent in 2017. And, from 2013 through 2017, specialty medicine growth in developed markets exceeded that of traditional medicines. This performance is forecasted to continue through 2022. Importantly, promotion for these products is directed to a small number of specialists rather than to a large number of generalists.
While access to physicians used to be relatively easy, gaining face time with them is increasingly difficult.
The sales model has, therefore, changed from one focused on achieving reach and frequency to one designed to deliver content tailored to the individual customer’s needs and preferences.