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4 Ways to Optimize a Virtual Sales Team in the Life Sciences Industry

August 26, 2020

Health and life sciences (HLS) sales teams, like many others, are constantly facing new challenges in a transformative business climate. Today, sales representatives are dealing with an ever-evolving portfolio of products, solutions, and services, all while facing a significant shift from traditional in-person sales to primarily virtual processes.

Those changes will undoubtedly impact the industry for some time. In fact, approximately 98% of sales leaders believe their businesses will be disrupted for more than five sales quarters as they adapt to the current uncertainty, changing buyer behavior, and new ways of working.

But disruption shouldn’t be viewed as a negative in every sense. For example, in the last few months, remote interactions between healthcare professionals (HCPs) and sales reps have soared. In fact, a recent study reveals that healthcare providers actually prefer these virtual meetings because of their compliance, security, and convenience. This is likely signaling a more permanent shift towards virtual sales and meetings, as roughly 70% of healthcare providers are expected to be digital natives by the end of 2020.

So, as the shift to mainstream virtual meetings and sales occurs, the health and life sciences industries are searching for new ways to optimize their sales processes to meet demand.

But, how exactly do you maintain effective sales processes in a complicated, ever-evolving industry like life sciences?

  1. (Re)define metrics and goals: As the nature of remote work changes the sales process, there should be an understanding that the metrics and goals of sales teams will also likely change. The health and life sciences industries, like so many others, need to redefine metrics and goals to align and respond to the current situation.

    Reassessing these metrics allows for transparent expectations for sales teams. That’s the first step in transitioning to a fully virtual sales strategy, allowing teams to then create a step-by-step process for reaching those metrics in an altered sales environment.

  2. Customize lead nurturing processes: Keep in mind, not every customer is the same, and not every approach will be equally successful. You must develop sales strategies that are in line with the expectations and preferences of your customers.

    Surveys show businesses with a customized, thorough lead nurturing process have 50% higher close rates than those that don’t. However, many companies’ lead nurturing processes are ineffective because they either:

    • Require sales reps to manage the entire lead-nurturing process manually. This is time-consuming and ineffective since not all prospects are ready to talk to sales.
    • Or their process is an automated series that treats every lead the same. Treating all leads the same limits your ability to properly qualify leads and establish a personalized sales strategy.

      To truly optimize your sales, automation is essential, but there must also be technology, like AI and machine learning in place to ensure you maintain an element of personalization.

  3. Take advantage of AI-powered tools: Artificial intelligence makes light work of the challenges faced by sales teams by automating the time-consuming admin load freeing reps up to make time for all-important human connections. For instance, the AI in Salesforce CPQ can eliminate or reduce the time salespeople would otherwise spend configuring quotes because it handles the complexities of customer and order information.

    Ultimately, this means better sales and better revenue. In fact, according to a McKinsey study, companies that implement AI in the next five to seven years will increase their cash flow by more than 120% by 2030. Companies that don’t use AI, according to the study, will instead see cash flow drop by 23% over the same period. But in the meantime, only 21% of sales leaders say their organizations use AI today.

  4. Upskill remote teams: As life science sales teams move to more permanent remote work, the industry will need to continually train and upskill to make the most of the uptick in digital and data-driven technologies.

    A core pillar of future training will be empowering people to take control of their own learning. Trust is a key aspect of any remote workforce and should filter down into personal training programs. This helps employees feel appreciated and trusted and leads to increased productivity as individuals are aware of their personal strengths and weaknesses.

Without a doubt, the shifts to remote work and virtual settings are putting new pressure on health and life sciences sales teams. However, establishing a clear, concise, technology-driven approach to this change can help keep teams organized and optimized for a new way of selling.

Setting clear expectations, defining metrics, and implementing the right life science technology solutions can help accelerate and optimize the shift away from face-to-face meetings and towards remote meetings, virtual events, informative emails, and ultimately, effective sales processes.