Critical Insights from Industry Leaders for Successful Implementation of Commercial Digital Transformation

Kristina Belyea 10 May 2022

Digital transformation… is it entirely about people? If so, how do we implement it? And how do you define and measure success when educating and improving performance using new technology? These questions were explored in a recent webinar panel of industry experts involved in learning and education in the Life Sciences industry from Amgen, Biogen, Impatient Health, and ACTO. Read on to learn what the panelists and the audience of this live webinar concluded on these topics.

The discussion was kicked off by asking the audience, “What is the biggest reason your sales reps fail to effectively communicate with HCPs?” Interestingly, this audience poll revealed that the number one reason is “behavioral barriers.”

The panelists all agreed that changes must be made to improve commercial effectiveness, and this starts with re-thinking and “modernizing” training and education for today’s sales reps.  In other words, digitally transforming the commercial learning journey at pharmaceutical companies.

While digital transformation was slowly underway in Commercial Learning and Development (CL&D), the pandemic forced the rapid adoption of digital approaches with positive and negative consequences. On the positive side, it spurred innovation and introduced the use of new technologies. On the negative side, it abruptly pushed people out of their comfort zone making many feel uncertain and anxious.

With this in mind, the panelists discussed how to effectively implement change. In this case, digitally transforming your commercial learning and education approach.

Three key takeaways to help your organization effectively implement change:

  1. Customer Centricity: Understand where your customers are and how they want to engage with your commercial team and align your approach to their preferences.
  1. Experimental Agility: Do not be afraid to take a pilot approach with new technology within a small group (a Therapeutic Area or a product launch, for instance) before launching more broadly.
  1. Create buy-in: One of the most important steps is transparency and ensuring collaboration across all stakeholders. Many people, process, and technology changes need to be made to pivot to a digital-first approach, so cross-functional buy-in and support are critical.

The panel then discussed one of the most significant benefits of a shift to digital Commercial Learning: increased data, analytics, and actionable insight that results from unifying siloed learning and development point solutions into a unified, omnichannel learning platform.

With those benefits in mind, to better understand the current ability to correlate training and enablement behavior with sales rep performance, we asked the audience about it. The panel was surprised to learn that nearly 40% of the audience were unsure, and 26% of the audience did not even measure it.

This insight provides the current pulse of the industry and indicates a massive gap in understanding training and learning effectiveness. Being able to link training and education to sales performance is crucial for impacting commercial effectiveness. It is critical to help training teams develop, engage, and empower sales reps to communicate with customers more effectively.

The panel and the audience agreed that digital transformation in CL&D is valuable and needed, but the big question became, where do you start?  How do you begin the journey to a modern learning approach?

After a fantastic conversation among the panelists, here are three key takeaways for successful commercial digital transformation:

  1. Develop a more modular learning approach (think two-minute snippets) and personalize your materials to make learning more accessible and practical to digest. Provide a diverse pool of resources (audio, video, presentation, etc.)
  1. Modify your approach and behavior to commercial education and training. Recognize how your teams learn in the course of their work throughout their day. Change education from a push to a pull mentality.
  1. Instill pride in your teams regarding self-development and learning via friendly competition through gamification to make training less of a chore. You don’t want a mindset of just having to get it done quickly; you want to reward people and get them excited about learning.

People are at the heart of digital transformation. This webinar provided insights into some of the implementation barriers, how to overcome them, and what drives success. Consider your commercial training as a command center; what if, instead of guessing what went wrong, you knew and, even better, could diagnose it and thus get back on track? You don’t need to imagine this scenario because this is what commercial digital transformation will enable.

Listen to the on-demand webinar to hear all the perspectives and insights from this fantastic webinar, or learn more about how ACTO can help you digitally transform your CL&D function!

Kristina Belyea