The pharmaceuticals market is an industry full of subject matter experts — and there is no shortage of subject matter to master. Waltham-based SHYFT Analytics ensures that its salespeople thrive in that context with continual training and education.
The software-as-a-services company works with clients in pharma and the life sciences, blending industry- and company-specific data with demographics to provide market insights. Clients use these insights to inform their decisions about drug launches, healthcare services and more.
Unlike some experts, however, SHYFT employees don’t care to talk people's ears off.
“We differentiate SHYFT by how we engage,” said Matt McGinty, senior vice president, sales. “We focus on listening to the customer and understanding their opportunities or struggles before we ‘prescribe the pill.’”
We recently caught up with the team to find out more about listening, selling and the effect their company has on patient outcomes.
EMPLOYEES: About 155.
HEADQUARTERED: Waltham, MA, with offices in New York and San Francisco.
WHAT SHYFT DOES: Builds analytics software used by pharmaceutical and life sciences companies to translate clinical and commercial data into insights and intelligence. This aids in the development of medications, treatments and programs for patients.
TEAM COMPOSITION: The sales group includes a solution architecture team, which manages demos and offers technical details. Also part of sales: the marketing discipline.
CIVIC PRIDE: SHYFT was a Boston tech pioneer, helping shape the city’s tech scene; today, 85 percent of its staff works from the Waltham headquarters.
TEAM TATTOOS: When the sales team exceeds goals, the group often challenges management to do something fun and unusual — like that time they got temporary tattoos.
MUST LOVE DATA: SHYFT doesn’t care if you’re a veteran or fresh out of college, so long as you bring a love of data analysis, strong math skills and other technical abilities to the table.
Matt McGinty, Senior Vice President, Sales
McGinty builds scalable client teams, recruits employees and maintains SHYFT’s culture of excellence. He trains and manages new talent, emphasizing the importance of listening to customers to find out what’s needed before offering solutions.
BEYOND WORK: He loves spending time with his family.
What does the sales team do?
McGinty: Our team guides the customer through their buying process to help determine how data can help them. We use real-world insights to enable revenue-generating decisions at all levels of a life sciences company.
Does this product have any qualities that make it unique to sell?
McGinty: SHYFT has only scratched the surface on the value we can provide to the market and our customers. When you centralize a customer’s data and visualize it with subscription software versus expensive consulting services, the sky’s the limit for the potential use cases.
Describe an ideal candidate for the sales team.
McGinty: The ideal candidate is devoted to listening 70 to 80 percent of the time, versus “pitching.” They aren’t in a hurry to sell, but they are in a hurry to listen and explore customer needs, even if that isn’t SHYFT.
The ideal candidate is devoted to listening 70 to 80 percent of the time, versus ‘pitching.’”
Your solution architect team, which is part of sales, manages demos and offers technical details. When do salespeople pass off engagements to solution architects?
McGinty: The solution architecture team is the backbone of the larger sales organization. We engage them after the sales executive — the “quarterback” of the project — goes through a discovery process with prospects, ensuring that there’s a good fit and good working relationship.
Sonny Dalal, Sales Director
Dalal focuses on building relationships with companies in the life sciences marketplace and solving the critical commercialization challenges faced by clients. His overarching goal is to improve patient care and quality of life.
BEYOND WORK: You can find him on the basketball court.
What motivates this team?
Dalal: We’re able to solve difficult client challenges. There is also satisfaction in knowing that our work can help bring new drugs to market that improve the lives of patients.
There is satisfaction in knowing that our work can help bring new drugs to market that improve the lives of patients.”
How do you scope out customer projects?
Dalal: It begins with understanding the client’s infrastructure and goals. We then work with the customer success team to gather relevant updates on a variety of topics — from patient size to distribution strategy and more — to understand what the solution will look like.
What kinds of relationships do you have with clients?
Dalal: My job is long term and very consultative in nature. There is considerable amount of client face time required to help effectively understand challenges and articulate a meaningful solution.
What rituals does SHYFT engage in to celebrate success?
Dalal: We ring a virtual bell and send announcements to the whole company.
Vinny Marino, Solution Architect
Marino is responsible for researching prospects and then creating presentations that address their needs. Once a client is on board, he works with the implementation team to ensure continuity of care and attention.
BEYOND WORK: He plays a lot of golf.
What’s unique about your company’s approach to sales?
Marino: Our approach to the market is different from our competitors in that we focus solely on pharma and life sciences clients. We undergo specific training to understand those clients’ unique needs, as well as the realities of working in a highly regulated market. Therefore, we’re positioned as subject matter experts.
Clients can take advantage of that by leveraging our expertise when onboarding other vendors. That depth of knowledge, something our competitors can’t match, is a big reason why both big and small pharma companies select SHYFT.
Our approach to the market is different from our competitors in that we focus solely on pharma and life sciences clients.”
Describe an ideal candidate for the sales team.
Marino: They should have a background in life sciences and understand the challenges involved in the commercialization of a new product.
What kind of sales do you do here?
Marino: Our sales process is very consultative. We begin with careful research. As experts in our field, we are often asked for the best way to solve a problem. Because of our understanding of clients’ goals and needs, our recommendations are often accepted.
Travis Hoh, Solution Architect
Hoh’s role is to ensure alignment between SHFYT and its customers during the contracting, onboarding and subscription phases of the relationship. He helps clients leverage the full range of the company’s technology and consulting services.
BEYOND WORK: He flips run-down apartments. In fact, he’s starting his third property rehab.
How would you describe the role of sales team members?
Hoh: We can be sellers, advocates, fixers and champions. All of our energy is focused on working with SHYFT’s customers and internal stakeholders to ensure our product is delivering and exceeding customer expectations.
Describe an ideal candidate for the sales team.
Hoh: A knowledge of SHYFT’s products and services is important, as is an understanding of its leadership position in the industry. Also essential is the ability to keep a finger on the pulse of the industry.
Also essential is the ability to keep a finger on the pulse of the industry.”
Outside of money, what motivates this sales team?
Hoh: Everyone on the team is eager to contribute to the success of the company. The sales team is just the tip of the spear, with the customer success, product and technical teams ready to rock behind us.
Kent Siri, Director of Product Marketing
Part of Siri’s role is understanding how SHYFT customers use its solutions. That, along with his knowledge of the overall needs of the industry, helps him develop messaging that aligns with those needs.
BEYOND WORK: According to Siri, running keeps him sane.
Describe an ideal candidate for this team.
Siri: Scrappy, strategic, a self-starter. A change agent who’s ready to roll up their sleeves. We look for folks who have done big things, taken initiative and positively influenced the course of their previous companies – hopefully without ruffling too many feathers.
We look for folks who have done big things, taken initiative and positively influenced the course of their previous companies.”
What challenges or opportunities do you face as a team?
Siri: One of the core challenges we face is distilling the value of our robust and multifaceted solution down to a set of core messages that resonate immediately with the personas of our target audience. Our platform’s biggest strengths – its flexibility and adaptability – make it difficult to communicate simply and succinctly to the market. We navigate that by taking a highly consultative process. Every company faces a unique set of challenges related to their target market, distribution models, patient and prescriber behaviors, payer dynamics and so on. We gain a deep understanding of our customers’ needs so that we can implement solutions that will drive immediate and sustained value.
What is this team’s reputation?
Siri: Customers have raved about our team’s ability to understand nuanced needs and deliver right-sized solutions for companies of all sizes. One client once told me: “Of all the amazing things that the platform itself can do, SHYFT’s greatest strength is the team that delivers it.”