The evolving Contract Sales Organization landscape
|Quintiles’ view of how the pharma sales process has become more involved. Credit: Quintiles|
CSO proportions have held relatively steady during that downturn; outsourced reps represented about 8% of the US workforce around 2010–11, says inVentiv’s Mignon, and now are about 11%; by comparison, outsourced reps are roughly a third of the workforce in Europe, where the practice has traditionally been more commonly accepted. That higher proportion is one of the reasons CSOs operating in the US see potential growth. “The European market, being mostly a single-payer one, is more difficult to handle for sales and marketing,” notes W. Scott Evangelista, president of Quintiles Integrated Commercial Services and Solutions (of which contract sales is a significant part).
A “holistic” solution is how Quintile’s Evangelista characterizes its approach: “Clients want a business solution that knits together the range of communication services, and to tailor those solutions to the market conditions in segments of the healthcare industry, both operationally and geographically.”
|credit: ZS Associates|
All of the CSOs tout their expertise in, and flexibility with, sales force automation (SFA) tools, notably the customer relationship-management systems that are de rigeur in selling today. And while all of them make a point of mentioning Veeva, the cloud-based system that has proven widely popular since the iPad became an essential salesforce tool, all of them, too, emphasize that they’ll adapt to any SFA system that a client prefers—something that could be especially critical when an outsourced sales force is working alongside the company’s own team. However, just as 2015 began, Publicis Touchpoint Solutions announced a strategic relationship with Cegedim Relationship Management (now in the process of becoming a business unit of IMS Health). The announcement is notable in that Touchpoint was the first CSO to adopt Veeva, back in 2007.
Another pronounced trend in the CSO business is that it’s no longer a matter of field sales reps alone—now the efforts are more distributed across call-center customer service staff, nurse educators and medical science liaisons, as well as reps. Ashfield’s Greenberg, while noting that a call center “still has the best ROI” (return on investment) of any of these outsourced services, highlights the substantial growth the company has seen in its nurse educator services, with that staff tripling over the past three years. “The new specialty products, with complicated self- or office-administered injections, make these nurse educators very valuable to doctor’s office staffs, and that, in turn, opens the door for reps getting face time in those offices,” she says.