Second Opinion: Go-to-market models centre stage… our stage

2021-12-03 |  Shrinivas Anikhindi

Each month we send out a regular email summary of the latest headlines from across the Pharma industry that have caught our eye. If this sounds like something that interests you, please sign up to our monthly Pharma newsletter 'Second Opinion' here.

This month’s issue is dedicated to go-to-market strategies, and why it’s so important to get them right. We’ll also look at the big healthcare trends from the last couple of decades, and what they mean for our core GTM principles.

This is something we'll also be talking about in our upcoming Second Opinion LIVE on 13th December - a webinar exploring the importance of having a modern approach to go-to-market (GTM) strategies with guests Peter Plöger from Boehringer Ingelheim Spain, and Ed Hollywood from Boehringer Ingelheim France

If you’ve felt the pressures of a changing healthcare environment on your GTM strategy, sign up here to find out more about the organisations who’ve already embraced the changes required to stay relevant, and how best you can follow their lead.

We’ve also released an in-depth documentary looking at the underlying model of how care is delivered, and how pharma can play a key role in the new world… but we’ll talk more about that next week.

Be The Change You Want To See In The Market



The way the pharmaceutical industry meets the needs of the healthcare system is changing. These changes are well-known and regularly discussed, and as such, everyone in the industry is looking to ensure their go-to-market strategy stays viable in the meantime.

An incredibly detailed piece of analysis from Valtech examines these challenges and the path to GTM innovation, drawing a simple but insightful conclusion - that Pharma companies can either make their existing GTM strategies more efficient to survive the change, or embrace it entirely and invest in a next-generation GTM strategy with a greater level of coexistence with healthcare.

What are some proposed solutions to embrace this change?

Valtech talks of two key solutions, which we have summarised below:

  1. An Omnichannel Lab for testing systems and approaches before rolling out across the wider organisation. This is a fantastic way to build in a culture of experimentation and piloting (we’ll talk about culture more later in this issue), which is a key success factor for a new GTM model

  2. Digital health programs instead of individual standalone solutions. Combining treatments with a virtual patient support platform allows for the delivery of digital interventions to improve patient outcomes - for example, using patient to patient forums to tackle mental and disease barriers, or intelligent questionnaire tools to enable easy collection of patient-reported outcomes

Don’t run the risk of under-reacting to this trend

As we enter a period of innovation amidst relative political and economic instability, the priorities of healthcare are changing more rapidly than ever.

Pharmaceutical companies can cling to old ways of engaging healthcare through progressive investments in efficiency and cuts, but the longer they leave it to evolve, the bigger the gap between them and the competition grows. 


PEN Perspective: What does a next-generation GTM model actually look like?

Knowing how to effectively innovate is a critical step in this journey, and you must have a clear view of where you’re going. So, what are you trying to build with a new GTM model?


One feature of this new model is the ability to take an outside-in approach, with the consistent leveraging of data to drive cross-functional decision-making. Measurement of key metrics pertaining to customer needs and process health should be collected and analysed to inform decisions around customer-engagement and product strategy.


Another feature is adapting your team to a comprehensive approach, combining all customer-facing functions based on their needs. Doctors have multidisciplinary teams, so why don’t we? This requires sharing the responsibility for customer relationships, and introducing new roles, like specialist care advisers and patient engagement officers, to work alongside existing key account manager roles. This will unlock new capabilities for your organisation to integrate into your value proposition for healthcare.


Finally, this new GTM model is designed to be future proof. It can and will evolve as new strategies and business models increase in popularity, such as disease type package solutions, combining a portfolio of products, patient services and payer offerings.


All of the above features represent both challenges and opportunities for pharma companies, and signify a clear opportunity to take a first step with GTM model-evolution – and most likely leading the market in doing so.


Increasing Expectations Means Increasing Opportunities

There’s a plethora of statistics out there looking at customer engagement styles, and how they’ve changed since the pandemic. We even discussed the subject in our first issue of Second Opinion. 

What’s really interesting, though, are the changes seen when you look at case studies in which pharmaceutical companies take different propositions to their healthcare customers.

In one of our recent studies, the customers of a global pharma were significantly more likely to engage with its account managers after the company’s teams had helped to solve a major need within their hospital.

In that same study, the account managers reported an 89-point boost (on an NPS-style scale from -100 to +100) in the ease with which they could have meaningful conversations with their customers. Additionally, using a framework designed to evaluate the partnership capability of the field team, the percentage of their field team classed as having achieved partnership status went from 18% to 73%.

In the new post-pandemic landscape, pharma and healthcare expect more from each other, and when pharma is willing to make the first move towards a new way of engaging, we’ve seen that the rewards are both rapid and long-lasting.

What Else We've Been Reading

The journey comes before the destination

It’s easy when designing a GTM strategy to think only from an ‘inside-out’ perspective. But on the contrary, the most important stakeholder for engaging healthcare is healthcare itself. Understanding the needs of your healthcare customers is a crucial step in ensuring your strategy is relevant and value-adding.

In this analysis by Deloitte looking at why drug launches sometimes miss the mark, one of the key reasons is a poor understanding of market needs. So how can you ensure you don’t fall into the same trap?

There are a number of devices you can borrow from the Customer Experience toolkit, but the critical one is patient journey and care pathway mapping. By developing an evidenced, end-to-end view of the journey that patients go on - from symptom to disease management, and how that journey is currently delivered - you can gain the perspective required to see what healthcare truly needs to support them in treating patients.


If you have any feedback, or want to hear more about anything mentioned in this article, please don’t hesitate to get in touch!