We entered March with great energy and excitement for the upcoming activities that have forever defined this season: spring training baseball, national sales meetings, new product launch meetings, and of course full-contact action from medical congress meetings like AACR and ASCO. Enter COVID-19 and as we quickly shifted to a virtually connected, eventless world, we found ourselves quickly pivoting to embrace new ways of conducting business and new ways of staying engaged with family and loved ones while keeping ourselves and our families safe and calm during these challenging times.
By the end of March, we launched a client-facing survey to help gain an industry-wide perspective on how the COVID-19 pandemic is expected to impact both the short- and long-term business focus of our clients and friends. While there were many great learnings from this survey, several insights immediately caught our attention. First, only 15% of those surveyed expect disruption to business to be 90 days or longer, and the remainder estimated 60 days or less.
Next, we were particularly interested in understanding how the industry is responding to the grounding of sales teams—responses revealed that nearly 70% of the companies represented in our survey are exploring new learning and development initiatives to support their sales teams. Many of those are looking for opportunities to strengthen “soft skills” and non–product-related sales skills.
Finally, when asked if they had formally or informally connected with their HCP customers to understand their needs as we moved into social distancing, nearly 75% of respondents reported they had not yet taken this action.
While these data are intended to serve as directional insights, it’s clear that many aspects of our business have changed or are about to change. As an industry, we will be looking at our entire process from front to back—change isn’t coming, it’s here.