CRO sales representatives do a good job of explaining the basics of their service offerings but they need to be more innovative in tackling sponsors’ individual challenges, according to a new survey.
The ACP-LS (Association of Commercial Professionals-Life Sciences) survey from mid-August offers a look at the opinions of 221 biopharma sponsor professionals on the impact of CRO (contract research organization) sales teams. The survey was conducted as a way to understand the reasoning behind a CRO’s decision to send a sales rep to a biopharma sponsor, as well as how those sponsors perceive the sales reps by company.
About half of the respondents said that a sales rep has a “moderate to high impact on vendor choice,” while about 40% said the rep’s impact varies based on the size of the intended engagement.
“Many of the comments related to the idea that the rep is the face of the CRO and if they’re not worth talking to, is the CRO worth talking to?” Jon Meyer, founder of the Life Science Strategy Group who worked on the study, told Outsourcing-Pharma.com. “A lot of it was not earth-shattering but more validation…as it’s a robust sample.”
The “basics are really covered well in terms of understanding CRO services and professionalism but now it’s time to take it to the next level to really understand what’s a better or more unique solution to [a sponsor’s] individual problems,” Meyer said.
He added that moving forward, CROs that use sales reps with “strong scientific and technical understanding” will have an advantage over their competitors, especially as sponsor pipelines focus become more targeted and challenges will be increasingly complicated.
The bolstering of a rep’s scientific and technical knowledge is seen as one of the key ways that reps can distinguish themselves from competitors. Respondent opinions on the top CROs such as Quintiles, Covance, Parexel and Icon are included in the survey, though Meyer would not provide any details on individual companies.
As for social media, the survey found CROs are still in their infancy in utilizing it, though its usage is rapidly developing.