Multi-Skill Sales: The Future of Pharmaceutical Sales Representatives

In a challenging pharma sales environment (created in large part due to the pandemic), customers like HCPs still expect flexibility, empathy, and access to services that they’re used to from pharma field sales reps. In fact, 87% of HCPs say they want either all virtual or a mix of virtual and in-person meetings moving forward.

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Without the usual facetime with physicians, sales teams are searching for new sales skills, along with the insights different types of interactions bring. To succeed in this multi-skill sales environment, pharma sales leaders need insights to make smart decisions. With Enhanced Quality Monitoring (eQM) from an independent service provider like Centerfirst, they can uncover insights from inside sales interactions that the entire sales force — from inside to field sales — can use to increase sales success.


Prepare your reps for inside sales interactions.

Preparing for a multi-skill sales environment requires a lot of trial and error. That’s where the power of eQM and 3D InsightsTM come into play, enabling sales leaders to make mid-course corrections in their sales strategies. 

When I spoke to a sales leader at a leading pharma company about the changing sales landscape, he remarked that his reps were “afraid” of using inside sales to complement their field sales model.

No matter the size of the sales team — a major pharma company with thousands of reps or a small team of ten — training your reps to use inside sales tactics can be a tough sell to those who are used to field sales. Knowing these concerns were top of mind for many pharma sales leaders, I spoke with Ruth Milligan of Articulation, Inc. about effective communication skills that sales teams can start implementing immediately to increase productivity in an inside sales environment.

Here’s what Milligan had to say:
  1. Check your tech before you log on. Understanding how your platform works and is up-to-date should be part of your preparation. Customers don’t want to talk to a blank screen! 
  2. Preparation is paramount. You should always engage an audience before a call, whether you send them something to read, a link to click, or a question to answer. Make sure it's clear what the intent of the call is and that they know the purpose and goal. 
  3. Eliminate all distractions. This includes tidying up your work environment, simplifying your presentation slides, having your talking points ready to avoid “ums,” and buttoning up your appearance. This will help the customer focus on you and your words. 
  4. Always look in the camera. While it may be tempting to look at the screen to see the customer’s face, eye contact with the camera helps keep your customer engaged. 
  5. Follow up immediately. Most sales calls end with the promise of some kind of follow-up, whether it be a recording of the call, a transcript, a link, or a survey. Don't delay in delivering these materials — your customer might become frustrated or forget about your call.
  6. Be concise. Keeping a customer’s attention can be difficult, especially online. If you can cut down on the content of your presentation and keep your talking points short and concise, you are more likely to hold a customer’s attention and keep them engaged.


Get the most out of your reps with a sales pilot program.

The tips above are just a starting point for training your sales reps to succeed in a multi-skill sales environment. Many sales leaders in the pharma industry are using pilot programs to test different sales formats and combinations of sales formats. By investing in these pilot programs now, pharma sales leaders can determine which format works best for their sales team and set them up with the skills they need to succeed long-term.

Reach out to us to learn how we can support you in building a sales pilot program customized to your needs. 

To learn more about this topic, see how we helped one pharma sales team identify the two skills that led to increased customer sentiment.

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