Find the Why to Lift Your Share

Same Side Selling - the book

Same Side Selling – the book

I was reading Same Side Selling by Ian Altman the other day. Ian says that he did a study of CEOs and found that there are three questions a CEO asks before making a purchase. She doesn’t ask, “What is this thing?” or “How does it work.”


CEOs ask:

  • Why do we need this? What problem do we have that this product will fill?
  • If we move forward, what results are we likely to get?
  • Why should we buy it from this company?

“As one CEO explained, ‘If I know the problem it solves and my likely outcome, I don’t really care what you are doing or how you do it.’ In other words, why bumps what off the list.”

Let’s consider this lesson relative to pharma sales. Do we know why prescribers write our brand? Do we know why practices or larger provider organizations might encourage or discourage their prescribers to write our brand?

In order to overcome the “I can only write Generics now” objection, we pharma marketers really need to figure out our Why. No longer do we have the luxury of sloppily defining our target patient populations as ‘anybody with skin,’ or ‘anybody with high blood pressure.’

“If a company defines their offering too broadly, it is less likely that [their brand] can help us. We’re not looking for generalists. We want to hire specific fixers for specific problems.”
— Jack Quarles, long-time Fortune 500 Buyer

“It is more profitable to be a big fish in a small pond than a small undefined fish in a big pond.”
– Tim Ferriss, Author, 4-Hour Work Week

What’s a frequent “Why?” for practices? The demands of payers. Payers offer pay-for-performance objectives and providers do what they get reimbursed to do. One reason Franklyn has been so successful pulling brand sales through IDNs is that we have been able to integrate a managed markets “Why” into our clients’ sales approach.

Managed Markets is just one avenue to get to “Why.” To bend the sales curve these days, brands need to find more of them.

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