sales enablement life sciences

Below is part two of my conversation with Dr. Jeff Dutremble, senior director of enterprise sales for life sciences at Seismic, as we continued to discuss his background in healthcare, the role of sales enablement in life sciences and the internal and external factors currently affecting companies within the space.

You can check out Part One of our conversation here

What are you seeing right now in terms of the current regulatory constraints life sciences companies are facing from the FDA?

I would say they have a broad effect. It’s tough to read the newspaper now without seeing a headline highlighting the huge fines these companies are slapped with for violating regulations. It’s unbelievable how many millions of dollars they are dishing out for off-label promotion, not adequately discussing the risks of their products with the benefits, etc.

Companies face a tremendous challenge. The healthcare landscape is fast-paced and ever-changing. There is increased scrutiny. They need to be cognizant of these changes or suffer the consequences. That is why it is critical for life sciences companies to adopt a sales enablement tool.

When any information changes, when the FDA comes out with a new regulation, for instance, or there is an update to a product, marketing teams can update that information once, and it will trickle down to all sales assets across the enterprise and immediately be made available to sellers in the field, with the old, non-compliant versions expired, which mitigates that risk.

Large life sciences companies seem to be either consolidating or making salesforce cuts. What challenges do you think either of those scenarios bring? And where does sales enablement come into play when considering them?

A lot of these big companies are gobbling up smaller ones. The challenge there is that they acquire new sales and marketing teams that are accustomed to a certain set of tools. After several acquisitions, there comes a point when large organizations have a bunch of different systems. Nobody is on the same page. Nobody is selling the same way, and the message is all over the place. As a result, they have no way to know what’s working and how to get better. A sales enablement platform can help to consolidate systems, those sales and marketing tools, ensure everyone is on the same page with branding and messaging, and allow them to measure their collective efforts.

Regarding cuts, we just spoke to the CIO at a large pharmaceutical company who wants to cut their IT costs in half while doing twice as much. We’ve heard a similar story during other meetings. CIOs and other key stakeholders are looking to drive down costs because of increased shareholder scrutiny and industry and public pressures. They are forced to get creative and find ways to increase revenue while cutting costs. That’s a hard thing to do. Sales enablement can help life sciences companies accomplish that by helping marketing teams realize as much as a 30 percent increase in efficiency and sales teams to increase their revenue to rep ratio, essentially doing more with less, all in a compliant fashion.

How do you think being on both sides of the selling equation (as both a seller and a buyer) has benefitted you in your role at Seismic?

I understand what it’s like to sell in that landscape, and, to be sold to. I know the challenges reps face because I’ve been there. In turn, as a retired physician, I am familiar with many of the companies we prospect because I’ve either used their products or seen them in use. I think that gives us more credibility when we discuss sales enablement and our offering here at Seismic. We like to think that our clients see us as trusted advisors and consultants as opposed to a traditional sales team.

If you had to boil it down to one critical reason why life sciences organizations need to start thinking strategically about sales enablement, what would you say?

In 2017 and beyond, they can’t afford not to. One word: compliance. If reps are presenting materials that are outdated and non-compliant, companies are going to shed millions and millions of dollars in fines. More importantly, and this is at the heart of what we do, albeit indirectly, patients’ lives and livelihoods are at stake.

Physicians and other customers rely on the information reps present; they trust that’s it’s up to date. If it’s not, and a new risk associated with a product, for example, is not correctly reflected in the respective sales assets, the patient suffers. That’s the true bottom line.

And, on top of all that, there is fierce competition. It’s an arms race, and companies that don’t adopt some sort of sales enablement platform in 2017 will be at a huge competitive disadvantage. The ones that implement these platforms are going to sell more, generate more revenue and do more with less. It’s just that simple.

Who is your favorite professional golfer, past or present?

Payne Stewart—no doubt about it.

Why?

The guy was a stud, and his swag was unrivaled. Anyone that can win 11 PGA tour events wearing the clothes that he did gets my vote.