I was in the UK all week, but I managed to tour the world. I spent time in Asia, Europe, both East and West coasts of the USA, and the mid-west. It was virtual time of course. In each case – and in each location – I was on a telephone call with leaders of our sales force.
My involvement in commercial operations is one of the biggest differences between my role now (nearly three years to the day) and the role I used to do in Pharma. In both worlds our people carry out science in teams to enable progression of new drug candidates to patient clinical trials and ultimately to market. But in Pharma I had a budget to spend. Today I have a budget to earn.
People and science, teamwork and delivery, patients and health, underpin everything in both roles. But for most of my time in Pharma research, the commercial side seemed very distant from my day-to-day work. In my current role, commercial success is essential on a day-to-day basis. And we are all involved all the time in the commercial components of our work.
Our sales force is amazing, but they can’t be successful – and can’t sell work to our partner companies – without our scientists. Our scientists are amazing, but they can’t be successful – and work with our partner companies – without our sales force. There is complete mutual dependency.
And even more importantly, neither our sales force nor our scientists can be successful without our partners. We don’t do our own research and development. We don’t invest in our own projects. We have to win, earn and deserve opportunity to work on the projects and portfolios – the potential new life saving and life-changing drugs – being advanced by our partners.
As a result, interacting with our sales force is as essential and it is energising. I haven’t ever had to sell anything – apart from a summer when I was sixteen selling carpets in a department store – and so any involvement with commercial operations is also as enlightening as it is intriguing.
Some members of the commercial team are extrovert…and some are introvert. Some have come from a science background…and some from business. Some have only worked in pharma…and some have worked in many related industries. But all form great relationships and partnerships quickly. All work hard and with great independence. There is passion and enthusiasm. Drive and determination. Resilience and confidence.
In our industry partnerships and relationships are paramount. A successful sales force advocates for our partner companies inside our organisation…and advocates for our organisation within our partner companies. No simple task. And done well this advocacy can achieve and enable anything and everything…for everyone.
Most every one of our partners knows what they want to achieve and has a plan of how to make it happen. But we have so much experience and so much insight to offer…a small modification to suggest or a big opportunity to highlight. Small or big…the impact is often significant.
And our commercial team make judgements all the time as they interact with our scientists and with our partners. What to suggest and what to ask. When to advise and when to encourage. Partnerships and relationships are built on trust and confidence. We all know it when we see or when we feel it…and when we don’t.
My calls last week were outstanding. I learned so much…again. I thought differently afterwards than I did before. My admiration grew…again, along with my understanding.
Our industry continues to change. Our partnerships continue to evolve. There is expectation on us and opportunity for us. We advance together.