In this episode of Impetus Digital‘s Fireside Chat, I sat down with Frank Armenante, Director of Commercial Execution at Novo Nordisk. We discussed a range of timely topics, from the impact of COVID-19 on commercial operations and the digitization of Pharma to Frank’s leadership lessons and tips for creating company culture in this increasingly virtual world.
Here is a sneak peek of our conversation:
Q: Traditionally, sales reps have been divided by geographical barriers, or territories. Now, with the advantage of the virtual world and the ability for one to speak to many, is the territory as a concept going to change? Is there a need for more regionalization or more globalization as it relates to the super rep speaking to many people?
A: A great question. I think that there are two aspects to it. So I’m convinced that, for as long as we are here, and if you actually look in the past, for as long as we’ve been here, face-to-face one-on-one interactions can be some of the most enriching conversations and ways of either getting information from one person to another or convincing someone to buy something from you, sharing educational information, etc. That will always be there. And I think that the reason why you have territories is because it gives you a set of individuals who you are going to try to influence over a series of time. The need to have that face-to-face one-on-one to get rich strong dialogue will always be there.
That being said, we also do things, you know, in our company, we call it “inter-face,” but most pharmaceutical companies have what’s like a peer-to-peer type of situation where a prominent physician well-versed in a disease state will speak to other physicians. Typically it’s done in a restaurant; they’ve got a big screen, you’ve got a nice casual environment. Now, we’re seeing the need, in many cases, of doing it digitally. So I get a doctor in front of many other doctors, and that’s where sales representatives can facilitate that. They can set that up and they can set the stage for that. And that gives what you’re talking about: the one-to-many type of interaction. We’ve seen some really good success with that. I think that it also allows you to get different physicians to hear the message coming from an organization, who normally would not be the type of person that says, “all right, I’ll take a night off and I’ll go out and leave my house and my family. I’ll go to dinner for two or three hours and then I’ll come back.” Now, they can do it right from the comfort of their home.
So I think, I think there’s the one-to-many on a physician-to-physician basis, and how the sales rep can facilitate that conversation. But I don’t think that you’re going to change the one-to-one conversations. If anything, what you see is a territory that’s large, it allows you to hit those fringe physicians or those fringe customers in a much more efficient manner. Rather than having someone drive, say, three hours, you can jump on a Zoom or Teams call, and you can have a conversation for 15-20 minutes and get the same type of interaction. As a matter of fact, you might get more time.
The model that you are thinking, “one-to-many, I can like reach across the United States.” I don’t think we’re ready for something like that. I don’t think we’re made as an organization or an industry to do that type of approach yet. Is that something that could potentially happen? Yeah, I think it would be a supplement. I don’t think it will replace the face-to-face “you’re my people, you trust me, we’re going to have a good long relationship over the years, I’m going to be someone that’s going to always represent my company and the information you need to better help your patients for whatever disease state.” I’m trying to be generic because I truly believe it’s not just Novo Nordisk, but I think it’s any company that’s selling a pharmaceutical product to a patient…
For more of our discussion, you can watch the whole Fireside Chat with Frank Armenante, or listen to the podcast version, below.
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