Break Down the Silos and Promote Harmonious Collaboration in Pharma Sales & Marketing
“The digital strategy of an organization cannot live at brand level. Digital action needs to be managed above the silos and must be driven by overarching business objectives,” says Ed Stening, Senior Manager of Social Media at Zoeist, a speaker at this week’s Multichannel Engagement USA conference.
In a pre-summit Q&A, Stening shared his key insights into how to overcome the traditional, siloed mentality towards sales and marketing which has always been counter-productive for improving both functions across the business.
Stening notes that the industry keeps committing the same faux pas, attempting to measure digital successes and failures using the same outdated metrics and approaches. “When it comes to evaluating the performance of each activity, it seems our industry is doing one of two things (or both): not looking beyond the 2005 style metrics like bounce rate and number of visitors, or they aren’t actually measuring at all post-campaign – which is even more heartbreaking.”
Innovation departments’ start strong and eventually get labeled as just ‘renegades’ if the VP’s aren’t fully bought into the vision.
Pharma divisions: commercial, R&D, finance, sales, manufacturing, and others, oftentimes seem like separate organizations. Each group has its own ideas, priorities, agendas and approaches. The groups work together when they must, and retreat to their comfort zones whenever they can. This is an ailment not easily cured, however if the business encourages and rewards cross-cultural collaboration, and provides negative consequences when this is not seen (i.e.: synergies vs. siloes), then the organization will get cross-functional synergy they seek.
“The larger the organization, the harder it is to create cross-functional synergy, especially if you are a big Pharma company. In a nutshell, it is everyone’s job to break down organizational silos, and it needs to happen. An ‘innovation department’ or ‘digital strategy department’ can play a role in leading this, however it really starts at the top and works its way down. More and more we are seeing that ‘innovation departments’ start strong and eventually get labeled as just ‘renegades’ if the VP’s aren’t fully bought into the vision.”
Social communities take time to create and nurture – it seems that most of the industry don’t have the patience for this.
New initiatives, unless proven to be valuable outside of an organization, need to be piloted, and positive results are most likely to guarantee a buy-in. Prescription lift and ROI are the most relevant metrics in an industry that is still driven by product sales, although some suggest that other metrics, e.g. reduced time, reduced expense, or improved customer satisfaction can be beneficial even if not tied to a revenue impact per se. Still others argue that pharma need a mindset change.
Overall, there seems to be the need for some autonomy for the marketing teams to have some room to try new things, even if just a small pilot to prove a concept before a larger roll out.
“The Pharma model is still very built on sales, living quarter by quarter or even month by month. Most of us don’t sell direct, so most things actually take a while to impact the bottom line. Social communities take time to create and nurture – it seems that most of the industry don’t have the patience for this and great projects get killed before they start getting traction. Ultimately, this is going to force poor results and less connection to what matters most, our customers.”
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