The beginning and end of pharma's sales and marketing roles. - Impatient Health
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The beginning and end of pharma’s sales and marketing roles.

January 12, 2022

Paul Simms

Last week’s news from Pfizer was no surprise. Despite record revenues, the company is cutting several hundred sales reps, with Albert Bourla saying during JPM that ‘“our development efforts in Covid were very successful because of the digitization that we’ve had in our operation,” and that the go-to-market approach is “very different”. I expect this is just the beginning of the end.

And so it should be. The writing was already on the wall. ZoomRx research shows that the effectiveness of sales reps – the likelihood of prescribing after a call – has dropped by 50%, and stayed low throughout the pandemic. 

Meanwhile, marketers have pursued reactionary, short-term ideas such as producing more branded content sites in an attempt to control the conversation – a strategy straight out of the internet playbook circa 1999. Recent EPG Health research shows that pharma is persisting with investment still directed towards brand awareness, rather than independent portals, in 2022. We’re the architects of our own downfall.

Enlightened leaders are thinking differently.

A UK Managing Director with an excellent track record recently told me of his intention to radically cut traditional commercial roles while focussing on new partnership positions in the wake of the NHS’ new procurement and payment approaches that may upend how we drive value to patients. Those reps remaining will need to embrace new types of detailing with the use of Next Best Action and AI-driven, personalized calls.

So yes.

It’s a gloomy near future for individual reps, but a win-win for health systems and, if we’re smart, the wider industry and the switched-on managers will evolve.

Quite simply, if you work in the field today, you need a giant slap if you’re not already reskilling around generating value and better access, integrating, and partnering with local healthcare systems to meet joint objectives. 

About time. (That’s all, folks!)

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