The future of the Pharma Sales Representative is a well-worn discussion. Are we giving equal attention to the changing requirements of the Pharma Product Manager?
Pathways to becoming a Pharma Product Manager are varied often including some period of time as a representative, but also recruited from science disciplines, medical professions, or directly from a pool of graduates.
With the evolution of the healthcare landscape and the better informed and well-connected patient population, there is added pressure to require more comprehensive knowledge and skills such as digital marketing, consumer marketing and data analysis and management. The profile of the future Pharma Product Manager and the training required may well look very different to what it did in the past.
Pharma will need to change its marketing and sales functions in order to sustain future growth and performance... [pwc, Pharma 2020 Series]
Role of Product Manager
The Product Manager role coordinates and oversees every element of the product go-to-market strategy and execution from coordinating market research, setting strategy and tactics to the promotion of the product to the market using multiple channels. In order to excel in this role, individuals will need at a minimum some marketing and project management expertise, good interpersonal skills to facilitate concurrent cross-functional processes and some knowledge of science.
Some of the responsibilities of a Pharma Product Manager include:
- Brand image building;
- Promotional campaigns for HCPs and other professionals;
- Digital marketing activities;
- KOL strategy,
- Disease awareness campaigns,
- Relevant messages and content to the sales representatives;
- Budget management and forecasting;
- Vendor management;
- Product Lifecycle management;
- Patient support services;
- Plus attending conferences and congresses to keep up-to-date with the therapy area, or to network.
So where do they receive the required training for such an important role?
Product managers do not appear to receive company training in proportion to the frequency with which particular tasks are performed. [Emerald Insights,2006]
Does this still hold true today?
Product Managers who completed some time in the field as a Pharma Sales Representative have the added advantage of having interacted directly with the customers. They have market knowledge that is deep and life-experienced. They also have already gone through rigorous product knowledge and disease state training. They know first hand what marketing has worked well and what has not. And, they have faced the competition on the front line directly.
But the sales force is shrinking, and so too is the pool for future marketers. In addition, the traditional main channel for brand promotion and relationship building can no longer be relied upon. Healthcare is becoming digitized and this is leading to recruitment of Product Managers from outside the industry to fill the gap
Onboarding & Upskilling Product Managers
The Industry has long relied on innovative blockbusters, and the marketing has not been under much pressure to be effective. With fewer big innovative products and increasingly fierce competition comes the need for stronger product management. New competencies are required such as patient journey mapping; insight discovery; design thinking; consumer marketing; data mapping and analysis; plus digital channel integration, campaigns and performance management.
The role of the Pharma Product Manager has changed. So too, should the assessment and training of product managers be adapted.
Competency assessments should take place when the new recruit comes on board, in order to provide targeted training and development. Simulations can act as training environment and as assessment centres, to ensure learning is practiced and assessed in a safe realistic environment. An assessment of your entire team is also a good starting point for any transformation initiative or restructuring process.
Actando can provide you with an assessment model and offer relevant learning academies based on any identified gaps compared to industry benchmarks. Contact Actando to learn more.
If you are interested in our mobile learning solutions on digital channels, contact Actando.
The Actando Consulting Team