August 14, 2022 | Contract Sales

Is a Contract Sales Organization Right for You?

Pharmaceutical companies are always in need of talented individuals to help them build and maintain strong relationships with their current and prospective customers. However, finding talent on a scale suitable for growing sales—or even just maintaining an equilibrium—can be very difficult.

Even with a “full” team of sales reps, natural attrition amongst the sales team, growing customer demand for comprehensive sales experiences, and the need to maintain growth all require a near-constant influx of talent. From the smallest medical service facility to the biggest pharma manufacturer, there will always be a need for new sales talent.

This is where contract sales organizations (CSOs) can be incredibly useful.

What Is the Purpose of a Contract Sales Organization for Pharma Companies?

For pharma companies, a CSO typically serves as an outsourced sales specialist—helping the pharmaceutical company find new sales talents on either a temporary or permanent basis as needed.

Sales outsourcing helps pharma organizations find the talent they need to grow revenue faster and more easily than they could by handling recruitment in-house. Additionally, some CSOs provide further support by providing continuous training and talent development for the sales reps they hire. This, in turn, makes it easier to maintain a high level of performance among sales team members.

The specific purpose of a CSO might vary slightly depending on whether they’re supplying “full-time” or “part-time” sales team solutions.

About Full-Time Sales Teams

A full-time sales team operates just like a company’s internal sales team. They will follow all of the same rules (such as dress codes, business hour requirements, etc.) as the pharma company’s own internal sales staff. The primary difference is that they’re on the CSO’s payroll and benefits package.

These teams are meant for long-term service commitments for pharma companies that need a permanent boost to their sales team.

About Part-Time Sales Teams

A part-time sales team operates as a 1099 contractor who isn’t on anyone’s internal payroll. Instead of following a set schedule, a part-time sales rep from a CSO is given a more flexible work schedule.

However, a part-time sales rep is still held accountable for certain performance (e.g. “close X deals per quarter”) and process goals (e.g. “hold 3 face-to-face meetings with customers each week”).

These sales reps are mostly useful for short-term sales and marketing initiatives or for handling seasonal spikes in sales needs that can be easily anticipated.

Benefits of Using a CSO

There are several key benefits to using a contract sales organization for pharma sales. Some examples include:

  • Increasing the Available Talent Pool. One of the biggest limiting factors in sales team recruitment is that traditional hiring practices tend to limit recruitment to the geographic location of the company’s main office. Pharma companies also have to compete with competitors in their area for a limited pool of talent with the right qualifications. By leveraging a CSO, companies can expand their recruitment reach—making it easier to find talent with the right skills.
  • Saving Time and Money on Recruitment Efforts. Traditional recruitment drives are slow and expensive. Pharma companies have to advertise for a job opening, spend labor on sifting through applicant lists (verifying skills, reaching out to references, etc.), conduct interviews, and then onboard new applicants—only to repeat the process all over again if the applicant doesn’t make a good fit. Using a CSO greatly simplifies the process since the contract sales partner will pre-vet new sales reps before presenting them to their clients. Some CSOs even have hiring guarantees that do things like waiving hiring fees for replacements if a sales rep doesn’t work out.
  • Improving Sales Team Flexibility. For any pharma sales department, having the freedom to scale the sales team to meet increases or lulls in customer demand can be invaluable. CSOs make it easy for pharma companies to add or even remove sales talent as needed to meet current or anticipated sales labor requirements.

3 Things to Look for in a CSO

So, if you choose to use a sales outsourcing service, which one should you go with? There are a lot of companies in the business of providing sales talent—even talent specialized in pharmaceutical or medical device sales.

However, not all CSOs are created equally. Some may prove to be a better fit for your needs than others, provide greater overall service, or simply produce better results in the long run. But, how can you tell the valuable partners who provide quality service from the fly-by-night operations that do the bare minimum?

Here are a few things to look for in a contract sales organization before signing an agreement with one:

1. A Proven Track Record in Medical and Pharmaceutical Sales

Before signing with any CSO, it’s important to verify their expertise in pharmaceutical sales. This means taking a look at their client list to see if they’ve worked with other pharmaceutical companies—and to check on what the results were, if possible.

Aside from checking published customer testimonials from the CSO, it can help to reach out to their clients (both past and present) to ask about how the relationship went. This can provide invaluable insight into how suitable a partner the CSO really is for your own organization.

2. How the CSO Handles Communications

Does the CSO regularly provide reports and updates on sales team results, or are they more hands-off? If a change to their service contract is expected, are you notified beforehand or after the fact? Do they use different channels for communication based on your preferences?

It’s important to investigate how the CSO handles communications before entering into a long-term contract or relationship. This way, you can start a partnership with an organization that will use communication systems and protocols that are compatible with your needs. This is an important part of forming a positive, long-lasting business relationship.

3. The Sales Training and Methodology of the CSO’s Sales Reps

Does the CSO’s sales team build and maintain relationships with your customers? Are they trained in relational sales techniques? What does the CSO do to ensure that their sales reps are current on the latest sales strategies and the rules governing the pharma industry?

It’s important that outsourced sales reps are cognizant of good sales techniques, best practices, and the laws they need to follow when selling pharmaceutical products. Otherwise, there’s a risk of the sales reps either underperforming in their role or of them violating a regulation in a way that generates bad PR and fines for your company.

So, when examining CSOs, be sure to check the sales training and tools they use—as well as whether they provide continuing education to their sales reps.

These are just a few of the things to look for in a contract sales organization.

Is a CSO Right for Your Organization?

Ultimately, the choice of whether to use a contract sales organization or to handle your sales team recruitment in-house is yours to make. However, considering the benefits of using a CSO, it could be well worth your time to investigate your sales outsourcing options!

When assessing the use of a CSO vs doing things on your own, consider the following questions:

  • Do I need help right now? Or, can I wait for a longer recruitment cycle?
  • Do I have the bandwidth for internal training, onboarding, recruitment, etc.?
  • How have my past internal hires worked out?

Answering these questions can help you determine if sales outsourcing is a “must-have” or a “nice-to-have” for your organization. If you decide that you need help building your medical sales team, reach out to Axxelus today!

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