Nearly half of the pharmaceutical executives who responded to a recent survey believe that the best sales performers in their field are those who share strong patient-centric values. Yet only 3% felt their companies knew how to measure and reward representatives for this. This gap illustrates a fundamental issue many pharma companies are grappling with today: how to ensure that reps are working in a patient-centric way while still achieving their commercial goals.

This is just one of the many themes discussed at the latest webinar hosted by Qstream and eyeforpharma. The feeling among 53% of attendees was that monetary sales incentives were sufficient to effectively motivate and reward the top 20% of their sales force, while only 8% felt they had the potential to motivate middle performers.

Panelist Louella Morton of Qstream drew attention to the fact that patient-centric incentives can help motivate middle performers to be more effective in their role and drive revenue by engaging them via non-financial KPIs, such as clinical knowledge or consultative selling skills.

“These goals don’t have to be mutually exclusive, but can work hand-in-hand, ” said Morton. “Quite simply, a top performing rep is not going into calls rattling off a list of product benefits. They are asking questions, listening to the challenges the doctor has with patients, and providing direction. These are the reps who continue to get appointments.”

Heléna Bargiel, Head of Commercial, People and Compliance at Leo Pharma, pointed out that “you have to immerse representatives in an understanding of the patient’s condition. We have had reps put a pretend psoriasis covering on their hands and arms, and then asked them to shake hands with someone, and see how it made them feel.” Heléna argued that the industry can take small steps in the right direction, and that, “once a representative really understands what the patient is going through, they are more engaged with their work and feel more confident.”

One webcast attendee suggested that top performers are patient-centric anyway – without incentives. Panelist Rob Dickerson, Head of Commercial Excellence for Oncology at Novartis agreed. As Rob shared, “I have had great success with sales teams who have no incentives at all. They have a salary and that’s it. You can have incredible success without incentives when you’re building a team, though it is harder to change to that model if the team are used to having financial incentives.”

Kasia Hein-Peters, VP and Head of Marketing for Dengue at Sanofi-Pasteur, summarized that trust is essential to the health care provider-representative relationship and that “can only be achieved when both parties have the same ultimate purpose – which is the best possible patient outcome.”

To hear more of the discussion, listen to the recording here.

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