With the new year under way, most pharmaceutical field organizations are engaged in annual planning. Underlying effective planning are critical competencies related to business acumen, analytical aptitude, strategic thinking, and collaboration. Both sales and access leaders, along with learning organizations need to put in place blended learning solutions and coaching practices that enhance field professionals’ ability to plan for their own role (individual planning) and for others (integrated planning).

All field roles need to develop their Individual Plans which translate into goals and priorities. Collaborative integrated planning focuses on larger top-tier organized customers where a cross-functional team must work together to navigate the account, develop relationships, and identify opportunities that address broader healthcare outcomes and patient experience needs.

As a sales and access leader and learning organization, it is important to develop the next-level capabilities required to develop and execute individual and integrated plans. As you evaluate your curriculum and coaching practices, consider your purposeful approach for developing the following skills:

Individual Planning

Skill #1: Business Acumen

Business Acumen is defined as the ability to apply knowledge and understanding of healthcare marketplace dynamics, evolving trends, policy, and the competitive landscape to inform actions. Informally, people often describe business acumen as connecting the dots and moving from insights to action. Here, purposeful blended learning solutions are needed to develop awareness, yet focus on application.

Skill #2: Analytical Aptitude

The underlying skill needed to assess the marketplace, specific customers, and performance trends is analytical aptitude. The learning needs to focus on improving the ability to conduct disciplined, thorough, and deep analysis of complex and diverse data sets. Coaching practices need to focus on helping individuals see patterns in information and determine what these patterns mean. Even more important is the ability to make sense of the information and use the insights to identify business-building opportunities. These insights need to be incorporated into planning efforts.

Skill #3: Strategic Thinking and Planning

The focus is on developing an individual’s ability to come up with effective plans in line with the broader organizational goals and priorities. Field employees who engage in proactive thinking anticipate how industry trends are impacting both the customer and their own company. They keep the big picture in mind and break it down to achieve both short- and long-term goals.

Integrated Planning

Many of the skills required in individual planning are also needed for integrated planning. The difference here is purposeful skill development related to enhancing field collaboration, coordination, and communication.

Skill #4: Teamwork and Collaboration

Purposeful skill development is needed to help field employees more effectively work together toward a common goal. Skill development that focuses on group problem solving and improving interpersonal communication helps the team gain alignment, reduce conflict, and leverage team members’ strengths. Field applications support team information sharing and alignment. Coaching practices must encourage ongoing collaboration, coordination, and communication amongst various field roles.
When pharmaceutical leaders place more emph
asis on planning and execution, it is important that there is purposeful skill development. In most cases, there is no one program that would enhance all the skills outlined above. Instead, learning professionals can support this effort by making sure blended learning solutions include field applications that enhance the underlying skills needed for effective planning. Additionally, field leadership must focus on coaching to these skills as well. Finally, overall learning journeys and offerings must ensure these skills are continuously reinforced.

If you need support putting an integrated learning journey in place or specific offerings related to business acumen and account management, please feel free to reach out to WLH Learning Solutions or contact Wendy@wlhconsulting.com or by phone at (954) 385-0770.

Wendy L. Heckelman

Dr. Wendy Heckelman, president and founder of WLH Consulting, Inc. has 25 years of experience working with Fortune 100 industry clients. These include pharmaceutical, biotech, health care, consumer products, financial services, and distribution service organizations. Wendy has also worked with international non-profit organizations and growing entrepreneurial companies.

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