The True Hybrid Commercial Sales Model

Richard Marcil, CCO at conversationHEALTH and
Sheila Patel, Vice President of Business Technology at Capgemini Invent

The effectiveness of the traditional commercial model had been eroding for some time and the pandemic brought it to a grinding halt. It was nearly impossible to call on customers in person in 2020 and it will not prove easier in 2021. But not just because of access. Also because of changing customer preference.

The pandemic has fundamentally shifted how we consume and engage digitally, much of it based on real time needs. During office hours, weeknights and weekends. Doesn’t matter. And there will be no turning back on this.

Some manufacturers embraced a more digital toolset and, particularly, remote engagement. This proved to be a means of maintaining some reach and frequency. Others pushed harder and took on omnichannel engagement, including tactical orchestration, next-best action and automated journeys.

This is often referred to as a “hybrid commercial model”, combining humans and digital tools to restore reach and frequency. Problem is that this is not the reach and frequency that customers want. It’s not on their terms. They want what they want, when they want it, in the channel of their choice. To be successful and gain competitive advantage businesses need to learn to keep customers first in a way that is both sustainable and scalable.

That’s why we need to be thinking of hybrid commercial models across more dimensions. One is “push” versus “pull”, where push is manufacturer-led outbound engagement, and pull is facilitating customer-led inbound engagement, e.g. self service. Pull is powerful and insightful hand raising from customers, and can lead to contextual and relevant push engagement. The benefit of this is greater reach and frequency of engagement, including “no see” customers.

The other important dimension is that of humans versus AI agents. Or more specifically humans AND AI agents. The pandemic has accelerated the adoption and use of AI agents — intelligent virtual assistants — across channels, in text and voice. Some of these can “recognize” a customer, engagement in on- and off-label conversations, initiate marketing or sales journeys, and of course elevate engagement to a human anytime it’s wanted or warranted. In short, commercial teams are now comprised of a human and AI “workforce” to the benefit of customers and organizations.

While life will return to some normal later this year, manufacturers will continue to develop and enable more scalable, always-on, digital-fast AI agents. Customers now want and expect the fast, seamless and personalized experiences that AI can provide, and leading manufacturers will do just that.

To learn more about our digital solutions to engage HCPs, patients and consumers, book a meeting with conversationHEALTH & Capgemini today.