The health care industry has made strides to involve the patient across the entire value chain, from research and development to differentiating the needs of patients, to ensuring efficient ways for access to medication.
There is a movement towards patient-centricity, typically defined as more than just feeling empathy and a connection to patients. More and more, patient-centricity is about creating the intersection between a positive patient outcome and a business benefit.
Pharma sales teams can leverage and form this value-based intersection of patient outcome and business benefit by creating a patient-centric approach in their daily work. If you can increase the pharma sales team effectiveness in creating a patient-centric culture, it likely equates to more sales, more lives saved, and a greater impact on the community.
Patient-centricity is becoming synonymous with providing value and value-added services. The bottom line is that patient-centricity is beneficial for pharmaceutical companies because it creates transparency and trustworthiness, it benefits patients, and it’s good for business.
Here are the steps necessary to create a patient-centric methodology in your pharmaceutical sales organization.
First and foremost, your sales team needs to be on the front line getting customer feedback on a regular basis and then utilizing that feedback to drive strategy and action. Armed with your customer feedback, there are four steps you can take to create a patient-centric culture within your pharma sales team.
1. Create a Patient-Centric Sales Team Strategy
Your sales team needs to be continually thinking of ways to bring value to the patient. This way of thinking needs to start at the top of the sales organization and cascade throughout the entire sales function. Your strategy should drive the behaviors for creating patient value throughout the sales process.
2. Identify Sales Team Patient-Centric Behaviors
Here’s where many organizations struggle. The behavioral piece is hard to pinpoint and typically where many companies miss. Defining the behaviors up and down the organization that drive patient value is often a challenge. These behaviors vary depending on where you sit in the organization and how much access you have to the patient. However, every employee can put the patient first. Everyone in the sales organization can consistently act with the patient in mind. Everyone on the sales team can make decisions and take actions through a patient-centric lens.
3. Define the Patient-Centric Culture Metrics
It may be sales, dollars, number of lives saved, or even patient outreach activity. Align your metrics from the strategy down to the sales team’s behaviors, and be sure to measure, monitor, report, celebrate, and improve on an agreed upon frequency.
4. Implement Coaching and Reinforcement Mechanisms
Managers drive the patient centric focus. You want to connect the bigger sales initiatives and the ongoing coaching to the business outcome. Make sure the coaching connects behavior with results. Managers should take the time to provide constructive and positive feedback. Never avoid the opportunity to say what could be improved to ensure success.
Getting Started & Sustaining Momentum
There are obstacles that can get in the way of the best-laid plans to create a patient-centric culture in your pharmaceutical sales organization. As you move forward, it’s helpful to account for possible obstacles head-on and have action plans for breaking down barriers towards creating your patient-centric sales team plan. You need to have the people, process, and systems in place on your pharma sales team to support your patient-centric way of thinking. When getting started, or even if you’re already underway, think through these common pitfalls:
- Misaligned internal organizational goals that do not support a patient-centric mentality across all functions to help sustain forward momentum.
- Conflict between priorities: patient-focused or revenue-focused.
- Lack of alignment between what pharma sales leaders are saying and what they are doing. You don’t want to say one thing and then have your sales team see you do another.
To create a patient-centric culture, you want to understand exactly which behaviors drive patient-centric thinking at every level of the sales team. How does being patient centric look for each position on the team? What behaviors will guide their interactions? How do you reinforce and provide feedback towards those behaviors? If you want your sales team to create more patient value, define what behaviors you’re looking for, then track, monitor and improve.