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Sanofi’s Diabetes and Cardiovascular (DCV) division is one of the largest business units in the company’s UK operation. Faced with the challenge of engaging with key customers more effectively, Sanofi asked Rubica to help its sales teams shift their mind-set and ways of working to a more customer-centric approach.

The challenge: Transforming engagement with key customers

The relationship between pharma companies and their key customers in the NHS is undergoing rapid change. Customers are experiencing rising demand for medicines and increasing cost pressures, while needing to deliver better value and improved outcomes for patients.

Better customer relationships are critical for the future of pharma. Our challenge? Making that happen.

Sanofi asked Rubica to help it meet this challenge by transforming the way that its DCV Account Executives engage with their most important NHS customers.

“The goal was to move the approach away from straightforward product sales and towards a much more customer-centric partnership,” says Paul Frith, the consultant who led the project for Rubica. “In the long-term, this will build more profitable relationships for Sanofi and help the NHS to improve patients’ health and wellbeing.”

Sanofi Case Study Full Image
Almost 3.7 million people have been diagnosed with DIABETES in the UK. There are 7 million people living with CARDIOVASCULAR DISEASE in the UK. 

The solution: driving key account excellence

Sanofi brought Rubica on board due to our expertise in key account management excellence and our experience of running similar global projects for Novartis and Zentiva.

“Sanofi recognised that it was vital to change mind-sets, processes and teams right the way across the organisation,” says Paul Frith. “Our strategy involved encouraging people to make small, pragmatic changes that would have a big impact on the business over time.”

The project kicked off in November 2017 with a high-level engagement with the DCV leadership team to define what key account excellence meant for them. Next, we developed a mentoring workshop and toolkit to support Account Executives in the field.

We brought the changes to life by running a series of mentoring workshops with key account executives around the UK in January 2018.

We knew we wanted to embrace the key account excellence mind-set, but we couldn’t see the wood for the trees. The Rubica team gave us a clear road map that took us through the process step by step. They shared methodologies with us that enabled us to expand our own thinking internally.

Paul O'Nions, Head of Business Operations & Support, Diabetes & Cardiovascular, Sanofi UK & Ireland

“Following our proven methodology, we asked Sanofi DCV to think much more holistically and deeply about their customers,” adds Paul Frith. “During the workshops, participants created mini business plans for each of their most important customers, using the toolkit we’d developed. This helped them to put customers, rather than sales, at the heart of their thinking.”

The workshops helped people to better understand the pressures that their customers in the NHS are facing, how their customers are supporting patients to achieve optimal healthcare, and how Sanofi can help customers achieve mutual  objectives.

Helen Bligh, Training and Development Lead at Sanofi, describes how Rubica’s method helped to bring about change. “By holding workshops for small numbers of people and offering coaching support, Rubica made everyone feel very comfortable throughout, even though they were doing something that was quite new to them.”

Kao Guide 1
How can you see things from the customer’s point of view? The workbook for Sanofi gave key account executives a step-by-step process to follow.

Working with the Rubica team

Paul O’Nions appreciated the open, up front nature of the working relationship with Rubica. “I liked their approach. It was more like a partnership than a client / vendor relationship,” he says. “The Rubica team were very open and up front, and constantly offered advice. They were extremely supportive, without directing or controlling us.”

He adds: “It was a real wake-up call when Rubica compared us to other clients they’d worked with on key account excellence projects. It showed us that we weren’t as far ahead as we’d thought we were, but we knew that Rubica would support us and help us take the necessary steps to get where we needed to be.”

For Helen Bligh, the Rubica team combined pragmatism and professionalism. “Rubica people are very down to earth,” she says. “There’s a real sense of professionalism as well. They’ve lived and breathed key account excellence and transformational change. They draw on their experience from many different organisations and believe in the potential for change.”

Results: successful initial engagement

The first stage of the project has received widespread support from both leadership and the field sales team.

Sanofi recognises that focused change management is critical to shifting people’s mind-sets and achieving transformational change throughout the organisation.

Therefore, we are now building a follow-on programme to introduce other teams to the concept as well as an organisation-wide programme to support and sustain the changes. This will focus on enabling a customer-centric, cross-functional way of working; enabled through a co-ordinated approach to communications engagement, culture, processes, capabilities and business performance measurement.

The Rubica team were fantastic in making it clear that effecting real change is not a one-hit wonder. It takes time and investment in people and resources. But so far, the process has worked really well. Everyone is talking very positively about the project and constantly asking me what’s going to happen next. It’s fair to say that Rubica has established a really good reputation within DCV.

Paul O'Nions, Head of Business Operations & Support, Diabetes & Cardiovascular, Sanofi UK & Ireland

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