How the Amazon experience impacts pharmaceutical sales reps
While you may think the sales model of online retailer Amazon and that of the pharmaceutical industry are like chalk and cheese, they are actually intrinsically linked. Like countless other industries, pharmaceutical sales has been shaped by the Amazon experience, with more and more sales professionals realising that a customer-centric approach is more than just a buzzword.
Amazon has given customers a taste for a level of service that is personalised and customer-led and now customers expect all other industries to follow suit. Nick Vat founding partner of Audet Magna, a UK-based consultancy firm that specialises in customer centricity and change management says, “Since Amazon began, it has dramatically changed the way we shop. It’s been so dramatic that ‘the Amazon effect’ has become a term synonymous with the effect the entire digital marketplace has had on pretty much all other industries.”
Nick explains that, “Organisations are having to reposition themselves in the marketplace and establish a different form of relationship with customers, one that sees them as a value-adding partner rather than commoditised supplier. And when all else is equal, the thing that distinguishes one from another is customer experience.” To put it simply, “To be truly customer-centric you need to understand what your customers value most,” he says.
To help your sales team distinguish themselves in their sales conversations, we look at the values that underpin the Amazon customer experience.
- Customer obsession (rather than competitor focus)
The crux of customer obsession is a fundamental belief that nothing is more important than the customer. This attitude needs to be led by you from the top as a sales manager and woven into the DNA of your team. And to support this, your team must take the time to develop a deep understanding of what their customers need and value. It can never be a case of simply paying lip-service to the idea of being customer-centric, you need to practice what you preach. Ultimately, If your team learns to serve your customer’s needs first, the benefits to your bottom line will naturally follow. As Jeff Bezos said himself, “In short, what’s good for customers is good for shareholders.”
“Customer obsession is about aligning your whole sales team with the needs of customers and consistently delivering the experience that you have promised through every interaction your customers have with you,” Nick explains.
- The patience to think long-term
With a clear and detailed picture of your customer’s needs front of mind, the next value that you need to adhere to is a commitment to the long-term and the patience to continue to evolve the solutions your team offers. In pharmaceutical sales you need to be willing to continually work to improve the relationships you have with customers, building on the way your team delivers on their needs.
- Heartfelt passion for invention, and willingness to fail
Your customers know what they want, so don’t be afraid to ask. Work with your customers to establish a service relationship that works best for them Encourage your team to have the confidence to try new things, to fail and learn as a result.
- Commitment to operational excellence
Imperative to Amazon’s success, a commitment to operational excellence comes down to a willingness in your team to constantly learn and strive to develop their skills and delivery for the benefit of the end customer. Rather than relying on individual face-to-face training sessions with the members of your team, as a sales manager you need to empower your team to commit to self-learning, giving them the tools they need to achieve operational excellence, keeping the all-important customer front of mind.
60 Seconds is a mobile training app that your team can use to rehearse their sales delivery anywhere, anytime, allowing you to provide coaching and feedback remotely. Using the app to rehearse and replay potential customer conversations, sales reps gain a clear picture of how they come across to customers, where they can improve their conversation skills, and the overall experience they are providing. 60 Seconds is a way for reps to view their sales experience through their customers’ eyes.
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Customer centricity, it isn’t simply a buzzword bandied around by the likes of online disruptors like Amazon. Regardless of whether you sell face-to-face or online, a sales experience tailored to the customer isn’t a nice to have, it’s now expected. If you want to compete in the healthcare space and boost your team’s results, you need to think about the experience your sales reps are cultivating in their sales conversations.