Selling is going through a bit of a transformation. An emerging practice is challenging the established approach of consultative selling. It goes by several names, including challenger selling and insight selling—but they all focus on the notion of proactively bringing compelling ideas to customers that demonstrate significant value. As we’ve written about in some previous posts here and here, Forum defines this practice as Point of View (POV) selling.
Our recent practitioner work and research has led us to see an issue that organizations are struggling with related to POV selling. As we’ve spoken about in our webinar, this approach to selling can be especially relevant in the sale of complex, multi-faceted solutions, where the selling organization has significant room to creatively redefine value, integrate offerings, customize, and invent. In contrast to this, organizations with more fixed offerings are asking questions like: “Can we apply POV selling to what we do?” and, “How creative can we be around defining value beyond our core products?” Our recent work with a top-10 pharmaceuticals company provided a unique context to answer these questions.
A critical function for a pharmaceuticals company is its managed markets area, working with a wide range of healthcare organizations to get their products “on formulary,” or positioned optimally to be prescribed to patients. Dramatic changes in the healthcare industry and significant competitive pressures prompted this pharmaceuticals company to consider POV selling—looking for ways to bring new ideas and sources of value to their customers. However, not only are their products highly targeted to specific disease states, but they also must speak to the impact of each drug in precise ways, carefully regulated by their compliance organization and outside entities.
So, can managed markets sales people in a pharmaceuticals company use POV selling, in the midst of these kinds of constraints? The answer is yes, though our work with them took a different approach than with other organizations. We placed a premium on idea-sharing. It turned out that the elite-performing sales people across the group were experimenting with unique sources of value that they could control (vs. needing to be funded heavily by the company) and that weren’t affected by compliance considerations. We interviewed these high performers, designed and facilitated brief POV Selling sessions at their National Conference, and are in the midst of rolling out a series of highly tailored webinars throughout the year—focusing on how to blend the best thinking from across their organization, with the research-based POV Selling practices that we’ve defined for high-performing sales people.
Perhaps the best way for me to bring this work to life is to give an example of a bold point-of-view that one account director was able to implement with one of their key customers. The customer was a healthcare provider in the southern United States. The pharmaceuticals company wanted to create greater awareness for cardio-vascular health, which was relevant to several of their products—The healthcare organization wanted to target the Hispanic population in their state (a practice called Population Health Management). The point-of-view/idea prompted by the Account Director was for the two organizations to collaborate together to put on a Heart Healthy Weekend event— where the organizations co-delivered promotional radio spots in Spanish and in English, co-sponsored the event, provided a range of interactive and educational activities, and had a significant impact on the heart health awareness for this key population, creating a win-win for both parties
This was one of many points-of-view that these sales people have been able to proactively bring to their managed markets customers—demonstrating that they can gain the benefits of Point of View Selling, despite the important constraints in which they need to operate.
For more information on POV Selling and to download the POV Selling toolkit, please visit www.forum.com/povselling.