Going Global by Outsourcing Pharma Sales
Shifting winds in pharma outsourcing
The production of drugs and medications involves a sophisticated chain of scientific processes that require smart business solutions to survive and thrive. With supply chain models going global and innovations unfolding faster, many leaders are starting to think outside the box and expanding the way they leverage outsourcing in the pharmaceutical industry.
In the past years, pharma sales outsourcing followed a simple model: retain in-house research and development functions and leave late-stage clinical trials and manufacturing of established drugs to third-party providers. Companies were relying on this old model mainly to reduce costs and streamline some operations, which efficiently worked.
But in recent years, the motivation of pharmaceutical companies behind outsourcing has evolved from just cost reduction to finding people with expertise as more providers are able to deliver talent to perform niche roles, such as clinical trials, drug discovery, and even drug enhancement, and even commercial ones such as sales and marketing.
The changes in pharma sales outsourcing motivations have also resulted in more major pharma players preferring to have long-term partnerships, not just rental contracts, with contract research organizations (CRO), contract development and manufacturing organizations (CDMO), or contract sales organizations (CSO). Unlike before, they also prefer now to have a few partner vendors for a more streamlined process.
Sales in the pharmaceutical industry is very different from the usual concept of selling products and services to consumers. Pharma companies are in the business of selling medicines, medical equipment and devices, surgical consumables, and other similar products. They offer their products to doctors, scientists, or people in charge of purchases in hospitals.
Because of the global scale of the ever-changing pharmaceutical industry, doing sales would require in-depth knowledge of specific drug policies in different countries where a company plans to sell their product, which could be difficult if you rely on a small team living in just one part of the world. It will also require familiarity with different local markets to make an effective strategy.
One major challenge in the industry, particularly for smaller pharma players, is finding qualified professionals to take on sales on a global scale. Building a sales team from scratch also takes a lot of time and resources, as a company would need to invest in additional support and infrastructure for the new hires.
Challenges in commercialization have driven many companies to outsource pharma sales. Service providers, especially those located in top outsourcing destinations like the Philippines, have access to deep and diversified talent pools where you can find people with the educational background, experience, training, and knowledge required to run any pharma sales operations.
In addition to access to skilled professionals, outsourcing allows pharma companies to access technology, infrastructure, as well as human resource and admin support to ensure that the outsourced individual or team can perform its function at a high level. It’s a plug and play solution that enables a company to act fast.
More grounds covered
Pharma companies that outsource sales to multiple countries offshore do not only get the expertise of talent around the globe. They also cover more territories, which increases opportunities for revenue growth. Having a team on the ground in different parts of the world diversifies revenue, and if done right could accelerate growth.
With an offshore team, pharma companies can also build rapport and forge partnerships with local market leaders that can lead to more opportunities like clinical trials. Having a strong relationship with healthcare industry leaders around the world is crucial when finding partners for clinical trials that aim to test medicines, drugs, or vaccines on different races.
Outsourcing also lets a company leverage its offshore team’s knowledge in local healthcare policies and business dynamics. Training an in-house team to learn local healthcare policies and market dynamics can be time-consuming and may even require several trips abroad to complete, which is quite the opposite of having an offshore team.
The combination of expanded coverage and talent makes for an effective sales operation that can put even a small pharma company at par with its bigger rivals. With an outsourced sales team doing its job effectively, a pharma company can centre all its focus on developing new products and services instead of pushing them down the pipeline.
Making outsourcing work
Outsourcing is not a magic pill that miraculously solves all the pain points of a company in one go. Like any other investment, it requires time, effort, teamwork, and care from both the organisation and the provider, especially when talking about pharma sales outsourcing functions that have very specific requirements in terms of experience, knowledge, skill, and capabilities.
It all starts by listing down all the reasons why you want to outsource certain business functions. These “why’s” will guide you when searching for and selecting a provider down the line. Have a list of goals as well, and share them with your chosen partner, because this will be a good basis for key metrics to measure the success of your outsourcing venture.
If you are outsourcing sales functions, seek the help of your in-house sales and marketing leaders in drafting requirements for the roles you need. The more specific you can go with these requirements the easier it is for your outsourcing partner to build your team. Your in-house marketing group can also help you assess an outsourcing provider’s capability to deliver.
Pharma outsourcing has been a go-to strategy not just for pharmaceutical companies, but also for organisations in other industries. It has allowed businesses to grow and flourish in a global setting. Like all investments, it could fail and result in losses, but it will only happen if you are not willing to take the time and effort to work with your chosen provider.