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5 Ways to Re-think the Role of the Sales Force at Launch

  1. Rep versus KAM Influence and Engagement:

While your primary care and specialty rep sales forces may be the main focus in getting the field ready to engage with customers during launch time, they may in fact be the less important group to start with. Why? Because there are a lot of issues, challenges and pressures your provider and payer customers are facing at the upper management and c-suite levels that will increasingly affect your ability to drive market share for a new brand.

Unless your KAM’s and AE’s responsible for building relationships beyond those with HCP’s (and the senior-level insights they obtain) are integrated into your launch strategy, the chances of making the necessary adjustments as you move along will decrease and field reps will be “flying blind.”


  1. C-suite Priorities:

When your market share goals for a new brand run up against a change in the time-sensitive priorities of your customers, guess which one loses out? If for instance, the timing of your launch coincides with your customer’s c-suite level decision to initiate a new patient adherence campaign to avoid hefty readmission penalties, you may experience disruption or resistance at the HCP level for listening to yet another product pitch.

To avoid this, you’ll need to tap into KAM teams, MSL’s and sometimes specialty reps to absorb what they’re hearing from senior customer executives. Understanding what pressures the c-suite is under will help you in turn understand what directives those at other levels of the organization are receiving and therefore how receptive they will or will not be at launch time.


  1. Time to put away the “hammer”:

When your provider and payer customers are in the thick of complexity around how best to manage an entire population of patients more efficiently, the last thing they want to hear is the dreaded product message; the very cornerstone of most drug launch strategies. Likened to a “hammer”, squadrons of reps are trained to essentially, beat their customer over the head with it until one brand stands out from the pack.  And the distractions caused by the shinny new eDetailing app on the iPad only serve to prolong the agony.  It’s understandable that developing these types of launch tactics is part of a well-entrenched “fight or flight” reaction to the marketplace that most brand teams seem powerless to change. But if there is one element of launch strategy that’s crying out to be blown up, it’s this one!


  1. Engage field teams early and often:

How early? Try Phase II of the clinical trial process.

Sure, your field teams will be limited in what they can say about a drug that’s not approved yet. But that doesn’t mean they can’t conduct some early due diligence to find out the patient-centric issues, pressure points and hurdles their customers are facing in getting the right care (and medicine) to the right patients at the right time.

One top 5 pharma company in particular has modernized its market access approach to rely on account teams to interview customers well in advance of launch activity and find out what pilot programs, education, adherence and other initiatives associated with the patient journey are being planned 18 to 24 months out.


  1. Re-defining launch success:

Wayne Gretzky, the accomplished professional hockey player, was famous for saying: “I skate to where the puck is going to be, not where it has been.” For all the pharmaceutical brand teams out there working on any one of the record number of product launches the industry will see in the next 36 months, the question is simple: Do you know in what direction all this is heading? One thing is for sure… It’s not about delivering rapid-fire, worn out messaging to resource-strapped HCP’s who need to see twice the number of patients in a day as they did before. It’s about leveraging everyone in customer-facing roles, (including MSL’s), to anticipate the issues and needs of customer stakeholders long before drug approval is ever obtained and establish launch success criteria that’s tied to opening up doors to conversations more in alignment with where your customers are heading.


Learn more at: www.clarityes.com

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