Specialty drug sales require a sophisticated, customer-driven approach implemented by competent sales professionals who understand the complexities of the specialty drug market. Yet many companies struggle with how best to prepare their specialty sales teams.

We asked Carrie Garrett, CMR Institute’s director of learning strategy, to discuss the industry’s training needs for the specialty market, and how a well-trained specialty sales force can help companies build more meaningful relationships with hard-to-reach specialists.

How can specialty sales teams do a better job of speaking the language of specialists?

Garrett: Selling to specialists requires extensive scientific knowledge and an in-depth understanding of the target patient population and available treatment pathways for the condition. For example, healthcare sales professionals calling on oncologists need to understand tumor types and other specialty-specific information that goes beyond a product’s features and benefits.

Talking about features and benefits may not resonate with specialists, but patient outcomes will. Focusing the discussion on outcomes can help healthcare sales professionals gain more credibility with their customers and move the conversation away from a sales pitch. This will also resonate with providers whose compensation is increasingly tied to outcome measures.

What are some other ways that sales teams can offer meaningful support to specialty practices?

Garrett: In today’s market, it is important to address the cost of specialty drugs, which are often subject to higher cost-sharing as a result of tiered formularies. Some specialists may worry that their patients could delay or even forgo treatment due to high cost-sharing.

When the issue of cost comes up, sales teams should discuss coupons or co-payment cards that can help to lower patients’ cost-sharing burden and promote better medication compliance. Many companies also have patient assistance programs to help reduce or eliminate costs for qualified patients.  When appropriate, they also should share health economics and outcomes research (HEOR) data and talk about avoidable emergency room visits, hospitalizations, surgeries and surgical complications, and post-acute care. This can help reinforce how a product takes costs out of the system.

What are some of the pain points that trainers face when developing specialty drug sales training for their teams?

Garrett: One topic that often trips up sales professionals is the specialty drug supply chain. That’s why we developed a new training course on the “buy-and-bill” model that clearly describes how specialty products and payments flow through different distribution and reimbursement models.

Trainers also tell us that they often struggle to keep their training up-to-date, given the high volume of market events that can make a course outdated. For example, new payment models like the Oncology Care Model are being introduced into the market effecting how providers are reimbursed. Keeping up with the ever-changing market can be challenging, so we support our clients by doing the updates for them. In fact, we just recently updated five of our specialty drug training courses.

At the same time, we recognize that not all learners learn the same way. That’s why we also offer a job aid on Partnering with Specialists.

More Information on CMR Institute’s Specialty Drug Sales Training

To help you meet your specialty drug sales training needs, CMR Institute recently updated its Specialty Drugs sales training courses covering:

  • An Introduction to Specialty Drugs
  • Specialty Drugs: Stakeholders and Market Trends
  • Specialty Drugs: Distribution and Reimbursement
  • The Dynamics of the Specialty Supply Chain
  • The Cost of Specialty Drugs

Used on their own or together as a suite, these comprehensive yet easy-to-follow training courses can improve your sales team’s knowledge and proficiency in the specialty drug market in just a few self-directed hours. Specifically, these courses can help your sales team:

  • List the key defining characteristics of specialty drugs.
  • Identify major specialty drug stakeholders and their key priorities and concerns.
  • Describe current and imminent trends in the specialty market.
  • Explain the difference between the medical (“buy-and-bill”) and pharmacy reimbursement models.
  • Explain how reimbursement model choices affect payers, providers, and patients.
  • Identify support services provided by specialty stakeholders.
  • Describe the dynamics of supply chain decision-making.
  • Identify industry cost-containment strategies and explain why they are difficult to employ successfully in the specialty market.
  • Describe the questions that sales teams need to be able to answer to succeed in the specialty marketplace.

Click here to discover how these specialty drug sales training courses can help your new and experienced specialty sales professionals better understand the business of specialty drugs. Or contact us to learn about our other sales training courses on The Entry of Biosimilars into the US Market and Protecting Market Access as Biosimilars Emerge.

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