Cheryl Jessen is the area vice president of enterprise pharmaceutical sales at MMIT, working with some of our largest clients. Joining the company in March, she focuses on driving Norstella’s newest products, expanding our solutions into current enterprise customers and coaching our sales teams.
How did you join MMIT? What in your background brought you to pharma?
It’s interesting, because I feel like this is my Goldilocks job. MMIT represented an opportunity for me to fuse everything that I’ve done in my career — I’ve been in life sciences for 25 years. I started my career in the operating room in surgical sales, teaching surgeons how to use laparoscopic instruments. Then when I had children, I moved into pharmaceuticals so I could have a more predictable day — I was on call all the time back then! I led a district sales team, then got promoted to leading a region of about 100 sales folks in the Northeast. Next, I moved into patient-level data with IQVIA, and then moved into software. First, I worked on the regulatory side of things with Veeva and Docusign, then transitioned to a company on the commercial side, Model N, that provides revenue management and government pricing solutions. It was a natural fit for me to make my way over to market access, and it’s been very rewarding so far.
What does your day-to-day usually look like?
There’s a lot of customer calls that I’ll attend with my team members. We have a lot of one-on-one pricing and strategy calls to figure out what solutions are best for our customers and how to package them. Then there’s planning — as we roll out new solutions and take advantage of new ideas, we have to develop strategies and make sure we execute them and close the deals we have in the pipeline.
What are some of the larger projects you’re working on?
What we’re really focused on right now is taking our solutions across different brands and packaging larger synergy deals with more Norstella companies. We want to be able to provide the pipeline-to-patient solutions that make us the leader in this space, so we’re thinking about what that looks like from a sales perspective and how to present that to customers.
What are some of the common challenges of your role?
We’re very, very busy. The speed at which we’re working, you have to make sure that there’s thought behind everything we do — is this a short-term deal or is this a longer-term deal? And it’s hard to be patient, but oftentimes waiting for the long-term deal is the right strategy for both companies. The amount of new products can also be a challenge. We used to focus on PAR [prior authorizations and restrictions] and formulary data products, and now we’re working on solutions with personas we’ve never talked to before. So there’s a lot of learning about these new areas and how to speak their language so we can provide the types of solutions that the industry expects from us.
What’s been your biggest win so far?
Just understanding our market has been a big win! It’s a big challenge to onboard here and truly understand what we’re providing, so getting up to speed on what we offer and who our customers are, then getting to know the team and what they do on a daily basis, while also being able to support them and be an asset to them — I think that is a tall order. The enterprise team is the most professional and strategic group I have ever worked with. They are also extremely creative in how they structure offerings and our customers look to them as trusted advisors. This is a very exciting place to be and very rewarding. I’m also incredibly impressed with our executive leadership and the support they provide to me and my team.
What trends are you seeing across the industry right now that Norstella is in a unique position to help with?
I think companies that are launching products today have an incredible amount of strategy to think through. They need to be able to rely on a partner that gives them the vast range of data that they need, and that starts with us. Then that flows all the way through to our solutions that provide real return on investment — companies want to invest in things that have a true return, whether it’s contract validation or solutions that get directly to health care providers and give them real evidence of how they can increase prescriptions — I think that’s the future. Lab data solutions are also sort of an up-and-coming area, and they’re really actionable. And I can’t wait to see how we take the lead on offering bridging as a service and merge real-world evidence data sets on the commercial side of the business. The market has been asking for this offering for a very long time, and our vision in this space is resonating. All of this adds up to solutions that our customers need to make sure they can stay competitive and gain market share for their brands.
Which company principle resonates most with you?
Resilience, mettle and grit. You have to dig deep sometimes to really figure out the best approach to an issue. In my career, I’ve learned that experience is everything. You have to dig down and look at things in a different way to truly solve them. It resonates with me because I’m not one to give up, and I think it highlights what I’ve done in my career to get where I am today.
Where do you see Norstella in the next year or two?
I think we become the single source of truth in our industry, whether it’s launching brands or staying competitive with brands. We’re the partner that our customers should come to first for insights on the what and why of market access from pipeline to patient.
What’s your favorite part of your job?
I love winning deals, of course! I love seeing people on my team develop, working on plans with them and seeing them come to fruition. I love to see my team really entrenched in an account and seeing how those relationships grow. I also truly love being part of the leadership team and collaborating with my peers. I’m happy to get up every morning and dig in every day!
What do you like to do outside of work?
I love to spend time at the beach with my family. We love to go to wineries and are all big foodies. My kids are older now and starting their own careers, but they visit a lot. So I love spending as much time with them, my husband and my dog as I can.