The pandemic has forever changed how healthcare providers and life science organizations work.
We’ve seen vaccine developers, equipment manufacturers, data scientists and healthcare personnel work at a record pace, innovate and collaborate in new ways to save lives. Talent wars and salary inflation are creating fierce competition for top performers and impacting life science staffing levels and bottom lines. At the same time, organizations are looking to create greater efficiencies to reduce operational costs in a continually shifting marketplace.
To increase adaptability, manufacturers are likely to enhance automation, data analytics, machine learning and the industrial internet of all things (IIOT). Real-time data analytics combined with machine learning will be incorporated into smart factories to streamline production, boost quality and lower expenses.
As life science companies look to 2022 and beyond, we can expect the pace to accelerate even faster with a growing reliance on technology to produce results.
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Top 5 tech-based trends for Life Sciences in 2022 and beyond
From continuous remote patient monitoring (CRPM) to wearable and digital therapeutics, tech has blossomed in patient care. Data analytics are driving biotech innovation in several ways:
- Artificial intelligence is identifying patterns in clinical trials.
- Predictive analytics are forecasting patient response to targeted medications.
- Machine learning algorithms are analyzing drug effectiveness to help frame future innovation.
Technology affects every phase of life science operations, including sales and marketing. This article will focus on five of the top life sciences tech trends in 2022 pertaining to sales and marketing.
1. Omnichannel engagement for a seamless customer experience
Customers today expect an omnichannel approach to the customer experience – a seamless experience across channels. This is true whether it’s a B2C or B2B transaction. In life sciences, communicating in a hybrid environment is essential.
Customers now expect a seamless and consistent experience whenever they interact with your organization. Omnichannel engagement for life sciences allows your organization to:
- Provide a unified customer experience across all your selling channels
- Promote more customer-centric and personalized interactions
- Developed enriched relationships
- Establish a presence across a broader set of channels
- Meet your evaluated customer expectations
By leveraging omnichannel engagement, sales reps have a greater capacity to deliver the right message at the right time through the right channel to the right customer. In other words:
“The future of sales enablement will be in offering a one-stop-shop, end-to-end solution by leveraging an agile approach in combination with a mentality of using the best-breed approach. This guarantees staying future-proof without disrupting the business. This also results in an excellent total experience where all involved parties (customers, patients/consumers, users and employees) are connected seamlessly and in a compliant manner,” says Dirk Abeel, Head GTM Health & Life Sciences at Pitcher and Founder Omni-X-elleration Ltd.
2. The digitization of everything
Nearly every industry is rushing towards digital transformation. By 2023, digitally-transformed enterprises are expected to generate more than half of the world’s GDP.
Life science companies see an urgency in redesigning procedures in research and development (R&D), supply chains, commercial processes and everything in between.
Despite being anchored in science and research, much of the sales approach in life sciences still relies on personal interactions and manual sharing of information. Researchers at Deloitte call the need to accelerate digitization a “burning strategic priority.” In a survey of 150 biopharma leaders, 82% said the digitization of operations is a continuing concern. 77% said they see digital innovation as a competitive differentiator.
“Digital innovation has been accelerated by ten years by what has happened over the course of the last 18 months,” said Manoj Raghunandan, President, Global Self-care and Consumer Experience, Johnson & Johnson.
Digitizing and empowering marketing and sales teams with the right technology is essential to compete effectively.
3. Artificial intelligence in product development and sales
Artificial intelligence (AI) algorithms are now commercially available and performing significant roles in healthcare. Research funded by the Canadian Government and published in The Lancet showed five AI algorithms significantly outperformed radiologists in tests. Expect to hear more stories like this in 2022.
Globally, AI in the drug discovery market grew to $470 million in 2021 and is projected to grow at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 38% by 2025.
AI is quickly becoming the foundation for all aspects of the pharma model. Sales and marketing are no exception.
“With the advancements in the connected digital ecosystem, data integration and applied AI/ML, the pharmaceutical industry will continue to become more agile in its approach… to accelerate positive outcomes,” said Mark Montgomery, Head, Business Insights & Execution, Commercial Acceleration, Novartis.*
AI in marketing and sales disciplines is also producing significant results. Guided selling leverages data to enable sales teams to engage with customers most effectively with automated and personalized digital sales tools and content recommendations.
- Rules-based content recommendations, customized to sales methodology, stage and industry can improve the effectiveness of your sales team.
- Automated and personalized digital sales content at key stages of the buyer journey.
- Sentiment tracking to help gauge response to content delivery
This allows life science companies to better guide remote teams with consistent and personalized content delivery for storytelling.
4. Customer engagement: Focus on customer-centricity
Customer experiences will focus more on adding value to relationships.
This requires a deeper understanding of HCP motivations and behaviors to create mutually beneficial outcomes. When it comes to sales engagement, such a customer-centric approach requires life science organizations to deliver on customer engagement strategies.
In 2022, CMOs must understand both the business and medical objectives to align brand messaging. Commercializing complex scientific information and creating meaningful content for sales teams is a challenge, says Abeel. “These skills have really become critical considering the complexity of the customers in our life science ecosystem,” he said.
Responding to HCP customer needs and focusing on customer-centricity represents a significant opportunity for life science companies. According to Martech Alliance, two-thirds of customers expect companies to understand their expectations and needs, yet the same number (66%) say companies are failing to deliver.
Aligning customer service, sales and marketing using a sales engagement platform and data-driven processes can help create a more robust customer-focused approach and allow personalization at scale.
Evolving the sales model and embracing the next-generation of hybrid B2B sales
Much of the HCP buyer journey has shifted online, and the selling process has become increasingly complex. Forrester revealed that buying interactions have increased substantially over the past year. Customers seek out more information than ever before and do their research independently. While there’s still a place for face-to-face interactions, it takes deep and customized content strategies to facilitate these interactions online.
Before the pandemic, pharmaceutical companies generally delivered product information through field sales teams. In 2022, many doctors are still enforcing no-visit policies for sales reps and turning to digital for research and information. Larger organizations are restricting access and centralizing decision-making.
Life science companies will need to embrace the benefits of both in-person visits, digital content and sales enablement automation to effectuate next-generation sales strategies. The process has begun in earnest.
A qualitative study by Numerof & Associates of 60 commercial executives and decision-makers showed that more than 60% of life science companies are evolving their commercial sales model.
Change leaders are employing several strategies, including:
- Changing the structure and roles of the field salesforce
- Restructuring marketing, sales, market access and operations teams to align strategies
- Modifying their approach to targeting and segmentation
- Shifting focus on digitization of information and virtual engagement with customers
More than nine in ten life sciences companies expect virtual detailing (using digital technology for promotional activities in pharmaceutical and MedTech sales) to become more prominent. Many business leaders said in-person activities will likely be reserved for select, high-value customers and that virtual detailing may account for between 30% and 50% of all customer interactions.
This is a fundamental change in the health care professional (HCP) dynamic, including an investment in data and automation to drive improved engagement and aligning digital asset creation with sales objectives. It will require a reset on the traditional sales approach to the buyer’s journey and retraining/coaching of sales teams.
This can be a challenge in its own right as field reps and sales managers may want to default to the way things used to be. CMOs will need to lead the charge of digital sales enablement and produce evidence of ROI. Executives may need to consider evolving the field rep compensation model to account for the new hybrid approach.
While the world opens back up, it allows for face-to-face and digital interactions. “With recent successful in-person scientific conferences like SITC (Society for Immunotherapy of Cancer) and ASH (American Society of Hematology), we will see the great return of in-person communication between pharma and HCPs,” commented Su in Pharma Predictions 2022-2027. “It would be important to build a new balanced customer engagement model with both virtual and in-person.”
Still, life science company executives will be left behind if they don’t realign priorities and build out their digital assets to support sales teams.
Innovate, compete and grow
In 2022 and beyond, life science companies need to invest in technology that helps them innovate, compete and grow efficiently. Leveraging the life sciences tech trends in 2022 means embracing AI, focusing on a customer-centric strategy, aligning sales and marketing and embracing an omnichannel and a hybrid sales approach for success.
* Source: Pharma Predictions 2022-2027 by Reuters Events.
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