Pharmaceutical companies face influencing and negotiation challenges unique to their industry. SNI is acutely aware of these challenges, such as the following:
- Building new sales skills to align with a new commercial marketplace
- Redirecting the sales mentality from a “fee for service” to “fee for value”
- Enhancing the relationships already in place while forming new relationships with potential buyers
- Negotiations restrictions on access, contracts, terms, and rebates
- Advocating for products
To address the various markets to which these companies are looking to appeal, SNI has developed a highly customized life sciences program – split for the pharmaceutical industry and medical device sales. This platform is rooted in providing practical habits and tools that enable life science companies like yours to maximize results.
Phase Training for Representatives, Managers, Directors
Sales effectiveness starts at the ground level. SNI provides pharmaceutical and medical sales training in everything from four-hour to three-day seminars.
- Influencing Advocacy: Systematic approach to drive accountability and results
- Expanding the Total Office Call: “How to” on influencing sales calls that direct the focus on the quality of encounters rather than the quantity
- Evidence-Based Value Positioning: Directing sales towards “fee for value” over “fee for service”
- Relationship Capital: Learning how to advance business relationships
Core Curriculum for all areas of the Managed Markets Team
Managed markets, including Independent Delivery Networks, Payers, and Hospital Systems are your primary market focus, and our medical sales training programs focus on these areas. SNI has developed programs to address these different customers.
These programs address advanced-level negotiation techniques based off The Power of Nice Systematic Approach. This approach allows those who use it to maximize their negotiations with professional purchasing committees and buyers, and has proven to increase sales for companies SNI has worked with in the past, including Bristol-Myers Squibb, Novo Nordisk, and Ferring. What’s the secret? We leverage exercises and simulations to engage your team and then bring it into their world. Our medical sales training includes everything from a systematic approach to find out what the other side wants, to how to deal with difficult people and overcome objections.
Keynotes and Events
We are often asked to conduct keynotes for life science organizations as either a motivational tool, or to try to accomplish a few specific learning objectives. Our most common events are:
- Product Launch Execution: Providing habits and tools to execute the marketing agenda
- POA: Customized modules for “go to” market strategies
- Regional Meetings: Integrating content among departments to emphasize a common theme
We regularly receive positive feedback from the organizations with which we work, and we love hearing about the improved results they experience using our techniques. Below are just a few examples of the positive impact our training has had:
“I have been in the pharmaceutical business for over 20 years and have never been through a training program that so directly hit the mark. The topics were on point and the tools will help us all build more effective relationships instead of just pitching product. Thank you.”
“Our sales group is one of the most experienced I’ve ever worked with. I was amazed at how stuck in our “bad” habits we all are. The skills and tools you gave us were presented in a fun and entertaining way that made us all want to learn and be more effective. If I didn’t know any better, I would have thought your group were actual employees. Thanks for taking the time to get to know our “real” world.”
Systematic Approach + Measurable Results
As a training partner that prioritizes real business impact above all else, we are always looking to support our clients in tracking the results of our training. We are very pleased to share two recent examples within the medical industry:
- A global medical device sales company saw a significant lift in sales within a pilot group that was trained by SNI and then rolled out the program to a larger audience.
- A global pharmaceutical company was able to measure altered prescription habits of doctors within the territory which went through our program.
Generally, organizations that have used our training demonstrate an increased ability to capture value for their people, products, and position in the market. Participants also consistently report an increased ability to communicate with customers and in turn build stronger relationships at more levels within each customer organization.
Learn more about our custom sales training programs.
Frequently Asked Questions
Q: How often would you recommend training?
A: The optimal length of time between formal training sessions really depends upon your team. What is ideal for senior management may differ significantly from the needs of your sales team, customer support, procurement, or the R&D team within your company. Typically, what has been most successful for our clients is when we work with them to implement measures that keep participants accountable to the habits and tools learned in the first program on an ongoing basis, and then provide additional formal training on an annual basis. That said, just as the training content should be customized, so should the implementation plan. We have some clients that we coach on an ongoing basis, while we have others where we only provide annual sessions. Both methods can be successful depending on factors like the audience, objectives, and company culture.
Q: What areas/skills would you say are the most important for sales teams/reps to know?
A: Successful sales representatives and sales teams take an active role in the sales process and require an array of specialized skills. Like any other sales opportunity, medical sales jobs are all about engaging customers and helping them to find a solution to their current needs. This requires developing a range of key skills:
1. Scientific knowledge
Perhaps the most critical factor that a client will want to determine about a sales representative is their ability to add value. As a result, pharmaceutical companies need candidates to ideally have some background knowledge in the specific areas in which they operate, or at least have the capacity to learn about the client and the science needed to be well versed in the space.
2. Product knowledge
If you are trying to convince someone to buy a product, then you need to know that product inside and out. Your customers will have questions, and if you cannot answer them with correct and confident answers, customers will question the credibility of both your medical sales rep and product. If you don’t know more about your product than the client, then how can you be helpful to them? How can you understand what they actually need? One of the most important factors in sales and negotiation is to build a relationship based on trust with your clients, and any reps that do not know enough about your products undermine this capacity.
3. Soft skills
Your medical sales reps are on the front line when it comes to dealing with customers. They are the face of your organization and the people with whom clients will be working directly. As such, these individuals need to possess a certain ability to communicate, observe, and build relationships. They need to know how to sell to doctors and other decision makers in the healthcare world. Do your sales reps act respectfully? Listen? Act as trusted advisors and/or consultants? Think of it this way – a few interactions with one of your sales reps may be all that a doctor or hospital network needs to have their first impression and an opinion on your company.
Q: What are some of the top skills that are lacking in today’s industry? How does SNI approach these?
A: For the most part, we feel that most life science companies do a good job with product and scientific knowledge. They typically hire well for the capacity to learn and/or previous experience in the industry. However, the same cannot be said for sales and negotiation skills. These soft skills are more hidden in the hiring process, less straightforward to train, and ultimately the largest determining factor in a strong or weak sales rep. While most reps are capable of getting their product knowledge to a sufficient level, relationship building abilities and emotional intelligence require a much larger investment to improve. A six-hour online course can teach a medical sales rep how a diabetes drug works and its efficacy compared to others in the market, but it will not be enough to move the needle on their ability to build credibility with a doctor and ultimately affect his prescription writing habits. Not only do your medical sales reps need to know how to interact with medical professionals, they need to be able to interact with gatekeepers – assistants and front desk staff who can determine whether a rep even has a conversation with the doctor or hospital executive. Sales and negotiations skills are best improved with in-person training, online reinforcement, and continued internal coaching and accountability measures. SNI’s pharmaceutical or medical device training specifically covers the interpersonal skills the sales reps and advocates need to be successful.
Finally, a note on Emotional Intelligence (EI). EI is what allows us to recognize how we and others are feeling during any given situation. As we develop a higher level of emotional intelligence, we are better able to identify and control our own emotions. We are also able to recognize the emotions that others are experiencing, often not verbalized, and adjust accordingly. Not only does emotional intelligence help sales reps build stronger relationships with their clients, it also helps them present a solution in a way that the client finds most appealing.
Q: How can management teams ensure that the information learned from SNI’s training continues to be implemented?
A: Perhaps the most important success factor in any training implementation is having a clear set of goals established prior to the training being conducted. We encourage our clients to have this before they come to us. As a matter a fact, “What are your objectives?” and “Why is this training a priority at your organization?” are two of the first questions we ask any prospective client.
Q: What is The Power of Nice systematic approach?
A: Negotiation is both a science and an art. The Power of Nice is at the heart of everything SNI teaches when it comes to sales and negotiation strategies. Through his career as a highly respected sports agent, our founder, Ron Shapiro has worked with some of the biggest names in baseball: Kirby Puckett, Brooks Robinson, Cal Ripken, Jr., Dennis Martinez, Jim Palmer, Eddie Murray, Joe Mauer, and the list goes on. What does that have to do with medical sales? In such a competitive field, it can be very tempting to accept the myth that to succeed, you have to make compromises, be a bully, act aggressively, or take short cuts. However, if Ron can be successful in the sports agent business – negotiating over $1 billion in contracts – taking this approach, then so can medical sales professionals. And don’t take our word for it – just ask our clients in the industry.
Following the principles Ron lays out in The Power of Nice, he has actually been able to find even more success by remaining a nice guy. While it’s true that one of the main goals when it comes to negotiation is to get the results you want, the way you get those results can often be just as important, especially if you will be engaging in future negotiations with that party.
The Power of Nice is SNI’s systematic approach to negotiation, which allows its users to repeat with precision and sustain a high level of negotiation performance. The basis of the approach comes from “the three Ps”:
- Preparing better than those on the other side
- Probing the other party so you understand what they really want and why
- Proposing solutions that maximize your share while at least satisfying the other side
Q: What can you tell us about the current state of IDNs and how to best sell to them?
A: In the past, purchasing decisions were the responsibility of individual physicians, but lately, integrated delivery networks (IDNs) have shifted most of those decisions to cross-functional teams of physicians and administrators. Because of this change, marketing and sales tactics need to evolve.
SNI’s medical sales training covers a range of sales and negotiation tactics for a variety of different situations. For example, it takes into account the fact that sales representatives will need to adapt their techniques to appeal to these committees rather than individual physicians. Rather than observing the physician and determining his or her needs and goals, sales reps need to take a look at the organization as a whole. The “new rep” must find the organization’s key decision makers and recognize what exactly it is that drives their particular interests. For example, rather than explaining the individual features of the product and how effective it is, target messages to explain how it will impact the organization’s bottom line – one of the few interests that will likely be shared among all the committee members.