Why Empathy is a Pharmaceutical Sales Leadership Requirement

Nov 29, 2018 9:57:10 AM / by Kim Huggins

empathetic leadershipPharmaceutical companies have been talking about patient-centricity for years.
Yet, many pharma companies find it challenging to make patient-first thinking a pervasive trait throughout their organization. 

In its simplest terms, creating a patient-centric culture is about being authentic and open in communicating to patients, taking care to understand their needs, and giving them a voice in the management of their care. Patient-centricity simply requires putting the patient first or being empathetic to their story. 

When thinking about the health care spectrum, it may be difficult to understand how pharmaceutical sales teams can impact patient-centricity. Typically, sales teams do not have direct interaction with patients . They can, however, achieve this goal by building lasting relationships with health care providers dealing with patients regularly; physicians, nurses, and administrative staff who are the front-line representatives. Sales teams need to listen to their customers – understand the content physicians need, the channel on which they prefer content delivery, and the frequency at which they want to be called – to achieve a patient-centric focus.

How can pharmaceutical sales teams cultivate this type of customer-centric thinking and action throughout the ranks? It starts with sales leadership fostering an empathetic environment with their own teams. Innovative sales leaders must embrace the responsibility of creating valuable relationships with every member of their team to build a culture of empathetic, patient-centric thinking.

4 Key Behaviors Pharma Sales Teams Adopt

In our work with pharmaceutical sales teams, we’ve determined four key behaviors that patient-centric pharmaceutical sales teams adopt:

1. Empathetic Relationship Management – To foster patient-centric thinking and behaviors throughout the team, empathetic leaders who can create a patient connection in all steps of the sales process will be critical.

2. Collaboration – Pharma sales teams that work together to pinpoint what each person on the team can do to put the patient first often hit or exceed performance goals.

3. Communication – Effective pharmaceutical sales teams regularly discuss the patient experience and how to impact it, with a focus on keeping the lines of communication open.

4. Coaching – High-performing pharma sales teams embrace an environment where giving and receiving feedback and actively soliciting input from others drives continued patient-centric thinking.

With these four key behaviors, not only will pharmaceutical sales teams improve their customer service record, they will also experience higher employee engagement with increased loyalty and retention. They are likely to spend less time having to replace team members. A more engaged sales organization results in higher productivity and ultimately, increased revenues, all while creating a better experience for the customer and patient.

For pharmaceutical sales teams, the future is about making a better connection to the patient. Creating a patient-centric culture requires putting every member of the sales team in the shoes of the health care providers, relating to their experience with patients and empathizing with how they may be feeling. It also requires sales teams to understand the patient journey.

Pharmaceutical sales managers need to connect with their sales teams, help the teams connect with physicians and staff, and then help them connect with the patients. Pharmaceutical organizations that recognize the importance of developing empathetic sales leaders may gain a competitive advantage and exceed even their own expectations.

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Topics: Pharmaceutical Sales, Leadership

Kim Huggins

Written by Kim Huggins