Do pharma marketers need “sales”experience?

UnknownPOST SUMMARY: Too many pharma organizations still require sales force experience/management to qualify for senior marketing positions.  However, in an era when reps are less effective is this requirement dated?

Pick up any research report (but don’t pay for them) and you’ll find that pharma sales reps are spending less time with physicians and becoming less effective.  So why then would any biopharma company require sales force experience? Because the old model of sales first is still being used.


One of the key trends in healthcare this year is that patients are becoming consumers of healthcare and that insurers are having a bigger say about which drugs can be prescribed.  It makes no difference to pharma, they are still sending out sales reps in droves to leave materials for doctors.  Even in oncology more and more HCP’s are turning to the Internet than relying on sales reps according to recent IMS data.

One of the keys for biopharma organizations is going to be how they market their drugs to both HCP’s and patients and frankly you don’t need salesforce experience.  I can’t tell you the number of times I have had to “teach” marketers, who came in from the field, about digital marketing 101.  It’s a different mindset to go from sales to marketing in an age when people know more than you because of digital channels.


If pharma insists on relying on outdated models they are going to pay a steep price.  As usual, they are at the airport when the ship has sailed.