By Lance Scott, CEO, Zephyr Health
After 20+ years in the life sciences industry, “aligning sales and marketing” is still a hot topic. Without a doubt, technology has improved communication and alignment for brand teams, but with an increasing complex ecosystem of stakeholders, the established “go to market” approach that life sciences companies have used for many years must evolve. Now it’s not just the physician making therapeutic decisions – payors, patients and integrated delivery networks all play an important role in determining the success of a medicine, device or diagnostic.
For life sciences companies this means evolving their engagement model to address this expanded group of stakeholders, and that requires an entirely new set of data and insights. In many instances, however, marketing and sales have each pursued increased use of data and technology independently. This has resulted in data silos and disparate, non-integrated systems.
In today’s age of digital transformation, it is essential to connect the data generated by, and available to all functions — marketing, sales, market access, medical affairs and R&D — so that the life sciences company has a holistic view of their engagement with common customers. That’s Zephyr Health’s philosophy. Our next-generation platform connects hundreds of disparate (and frequently unstructured) data sources across the enterprise to deliver a comprehensive view of the customer – physicians, institutions, and even patients – and the company’s engagement with them. These deep insights help commercial teams stay aligned, coordinated and ahead of customer or market changes.
It’s imperative for sales teams to be a trusted source of information for physicians and their staff. To maintain that credibility, however, they need to have better visibility into their key accounts. This includes customer activities (prescribing behavior, publications, referrals, etc.) as well as their own company’s engagement (digital, medical education, industry payments, etc.). Today, sales teams find it challenging to gain this comprehensive view.
Marketing, on the other hand, is looking broadly at how to increase brand engagement with customers. They are expanding channels and personalizing content to improve the way healthcare providers and organizations receive and access information on their product. Sales is a critical channel in their brand strategy. Coordinating the efforts of the sales team, in concert with the other channels they have invested in, is increasingly important – but it can be challenging.
Our customers are capitalizing on the opportunity to use data and insights to align the needs, and activities, of commercial teams. By bringing together data from customer engagement channels, treatment, research, and influence, marketers have a single view of the customer and are using predictive analytics to notify sales teams of the “next best action” based upon customer or market changes.
Imagine this: A marketing team engages a healthcare provider with a digital outreach program. As a result, the healthcare provider is motivated to take action (e.g. downloading material regarding a patient support program). After that the sales representative gets a real-time notification to reach out to Dr. Smith who just completed the download. This is using data and analytics to tie marketing and sales efforts together more closely, and it’s quite powerful.
Starting with the Strategy
In order to move to a data-driven go-to-market strategy, it’s essential to establish a comprehensive view of the company’s current customer engagement approach across all functions – sales, marketing, market access, medical affairs and R&D. But this is quite complex. These groups operate independently, yet they are interacting with many of the same physicians and institutions. Further complicating this are the technical challenges related to linking and organizing the different data source these teams use, purchase and produce for decision-making.
A cross-enterprise approach will help life sciences companies set a brand strategy that incorporates all channels at their disposal, target the appropriate cohort of physicians with data-driven segmentation, programmatically serve up “next best actions” to the sales and marketing teams, and monitor progress in real-time. With supporting technology, this holistic brand strategy can be operationalized in a consistent and systematic manner.
Sales, Marketing and Beyond
Transforming the “go-to-market” approach, and using data and advanced analytics to drive that change, goes beyond sales and marketing.
We recently published a report entitled “Powering the Life Sciences Commercial Engine with Market Access Insights” which included responses from 60 senior pharmaceutical professionals in sales, marketing and market access / managed markets role. This report cites that over 68% of pharmaceutical brands are leveraging market access insights regularly in their strategic planning, and yet the biggest barriers to collaboration between these teams are:
- Data not effectively shared between teams
- Disparate use of tools
- Differing strategic goals across teams
The opportunity is clearly to improve alignment beyond sales and marketing and the survey respondents know it. Seventy-one percent said they “ have plans in place drive convergence between sales, marketing and market access teams”.
Life Sciences + Industry 4.0
Obviously, we see the use of innovative, Insights-as-a-Service solutions such as Zephyr Illuminate as paramount to supporting and driving this evolution for the life sciences industry. Many of the legacy technology platforms / solutions used today are falling short of the industry’s needs, but when integrated with, and enriched by, advanced solutions that incorporate machine learning and predictive analytics, these can continue to be of value to sales and marketing teams.
Data and technology, however, are not the only components of a successful transformation strategy. As we work with life sciences companies that have made integrating innovative technology and capabilities a priority for the organization, it’s clear that the people leading these efforts are equally important. When a credible leader is designated to design and drive these initiatives – preferably a person with historical knowledge of the company’s established practices – the efforts get greater buy-in, support and ultimately deliver better results. We have seen the best cross-enterprise transformation efforts led by individuals who have held important operational roles or P&L responsibility within the organization, who can ask the right questions like how this will impact the top and bottom line for the business and who can advocate for new, innovative approaches to the business.
Uniting as One Team
As healthcare continues to dive headfirst into the age of digital transformation, it is imperative for life sciences companies to utilize the latest, innovative technology. This will bridge the gap between internal teams and engage all of the stakeholders involved with maximizing the product’s life cycle.
To visit Zephyr Health’s website please click here.