Sales and marketing functions within the pharmaceutical and biotech industries, at times, can resemble the social hierarchy at your old high school. Cliques posturing to be the cool kids on campus, each jockeying to lead, plan, and control the budget for the prom or class trip. While a healthy rivalry can be an effective driver of achievement – UNC vs. Duke, Red Sox vs. Yankees, Apple vs. Microsoft – unhealthy rivalry can lead to tunnel vision in measuring success solely in how one stack up against the other.

One of the most important times for the sales and marketing teams to leave rivalry behind and collaborate is during the lead up to a sales meeting or a POA live meeting. Often during the planning stages, sales and marketing are competing for stage time and disagreeing over the design and direction of any training workshops. The marketing team wants to dedicate the meeting to messaging about product features and benefits, and the training workshops to practicing articulating messaging scripts or talk tracks. On the other hand, the sales team may push for workshops that focus on identifying customers and planning business.

In order for the meeting to be successful, both sales and marketing need to shift their focus to one theme – patient outcomes.

In healthcare today, the shift toward value-based reimbursement is driving a greater focus on the importance of patient outcomes. Physicians who participate in CMS quality payment programs like MIPS (Merit-based Incentive Payment System) will soon find that a portion of their payment will be based on the patient experience, which is leading to a more patient-centric approach to care. In order for sales representatives to learn how to effectively align themselves within this evolving patient care context, sales meetings should utilize case studies and real world scenarios to help train the representative to add value to a provider’s office by collaborating to reach mutual goals for patient care.

When the relationship between sales and marketing is contentious, then the success of each is unproductively measured by how one performs in comparison to the other, rather than the success of the entire organization measured by positive patient outcomes.

The patient can be the unifying factor that integrates both groups from the start. Agendas, timelines, budgets, resources, vendor selection, roles, and responsibilities should be designed with patient outcomes in mind. If both teams work towards this vision, they will better understand the value each brings to the table, and share any success or failure. No longer will sales blame marketing for a poorly rolled out campaign as the reason why sales are slow, nor will marketing point the finger at sales for not executing the marketing plan correctly.

By breaking down the silos and cliques that sales and marketing live in, we increase the odds of traveling down the road to success in partnering with physicians to improve the outcomes of their patients.