5 Ways To Maximize Pharma Sales Call Effectiveness

With the growing number of physicians avoiding meeting in-person with industry representatives, pharma sales reps have their work cut out for them.

A decade ago, almost 80 percent of providers were accessible to pharma and biotech company reps.

Today, however, we are looking at a completely different picture.

In 2017, only 44% of HCPs were accessible to pharma and biotech company sales reps.

Traditionally, many reps could walk right into doctors offices and get 20-30 minutes with their customers. Those days, however, are long gone.

Today, the average amount of time spent in a sales call hovers around 1-3 minutes.

Male physician shaking hands with a female sales rep.

Not only is it more challenging to find prescribers who will see your representatives in-person, but those who may still be open to doing so drastically cut the amount of time they will devote to listening to a sales pitch.

The pressure has been mounting on the sales force to find ways to deliver results and meet company sales objectives in spite of increasing challenges.

Despite the difficulties present in getting in front of target customers, the sales force of pharma companies continues to be the front line of most commercial sales and marketing strategies.

According to research, 88% of the sales and marketing budget still goes to the sales force.

Unfortunately, organizations are paying more attention to ensuring maximum success from their pharma sales teams and are redefining the meaning of sales force excellence.

So, What is Pharma Sales Call Effectiveness?

Pharma sales call effectiveness is one of the most critical indicators of pharma sales performance.

What your sales reps do consistently in front of their customers and how well they deliver the company approved messages will have a significant impact on their sales performance and the results of the organization.

So, what can you do to improve the effectiveness of every pharma sales call delivered by your team to achieve greater commercial impact?

Female call representative on the phone.

1. Plan The Calls & Utilize Reports

Too often, pre-call planning falls by the wayside. Sales reps frequently overlook its importance and the incredible competitive advantage it can represent.

Time spent in front of customers is truly precious and largely limited. Companies that are looking to succeed in this competitive marketplace must ensure that their reps are adequately prepared to make the most of each customer interaction.

Walking into a pharma sales meeting unprepared results in disaster and the loss of opportunity, of course. Pharma sales reps must plan, think and act fast to maximize the 1-3 minutes they may have with their customers.

It’s not always about who can get to the finish line first, so teach your team to resist the temptation to jump out of the car and race their competitors to the door.

Explain to them the power that lies within pharma pre-call planning and what they need to do to master this fundamental skill.

The best way to achieve effective pre-call planning is by utilizing reports. Make sure your sales teams are equipped with quality reports to help them gain a better understanding of trends and physician preferences relating to their products’ therapeutic classes.

Having up-to-date reports readily available to your sales teams can be a real game-changer.

Innovative pharma analytics and data management solutions are designed to do that and more. Be sure to choose a platform that allows you to generate real-time results that are available from anywhere at any time.

One crucial consideration to make when deciding what reports to arm your sales teams with is to make sure the reports are like Goldilocks; Just right!

Some companies provide too much information which may be counterproductive as the massive amount of data is overwhelming for sales reps.

On the flip side, other pharma companies offer little to no data to their sales force, which can be equally frustrating.

So, by implementing the right pharma data analytics solution your pharma company can provide sales reps with actionable reports from large amounts of data.

Team member using advanced analytics on laptop.

2. Tailor The Approach To The Customer

Approaching prescribers the wrong way can be detrimental to the success of sales calls. Data dumping is a common mistake that new and sometimes experienced sales reps make when pressured by the lack of time.

Instead of delivering canned presentations that likely offer little to no value to the customer, it is essential to learn to establish a rapport to help put the customer at ease.

Showing genuine interest in the practice and the issues that the doctors face every day will help set your sales team apart from the competition!

Two men shaking hands concluding a meeting.

3. Bring New Information The Customer Doesn’t Already Know

There are only a few things that irritate doctors as much as hearing the same old information repeatedly.

While pharma sales reps understand the desire physicians have to learn about innovations and blockbuster drugs, they feel this expectation is impossible to meet.

Even though blockbuster drugs do not come around every day, encourage your reps to bring a sense of newness by exposing a new angle or by highlighting a unique point in a previously presented clinical study.

Capitalize on the extra attention your team gets from customers during product launches, as physicians are generally much more interested in learning about the latest advances.

Also, make sure your sales team has the most recent data and that it can be presented in an engaging format. Audiovisuals, such as videos have shown to increase information retention.

So, tap into technology to enhance client engagement and experience!

Businesswomen using tablet for advanced analytics.

4. Sell With The Patient In Mind

Successful pharma sales reps are masters at effectively conveying that they care more about patients than making a sale. Reps who are willing to go the extra mile and display their commitment to their customers are generally appreciated more.

Helping doctors empower their patients and increase patient compliance is highly valued by many doctors.

Teach your reps to think of all the different ways they can bring value to their customers’ practices and their patients. Providing patient education material is just one of the many ways!

5. Use Cutting Edge Technology

The truth is, the use of technology in pharma sales is not new. Tablets, iPad and other technological advances have been available to the sales forces of many large and small commercial pharma companies.

It is however also true, that even though utilized, technology isn’t used to its full potential.

An effective sales call means showing the right information, in the correct format and at the right time. It’s no longer sufficient to present old data on a reprint.

Technology can take the presentation to a higher level by making it more interesting. Showing a 90-second to 2-minute video, for example, is a powerful way to engage physicians and potentially extend the duration of the call.

Person using laptop and phone to access advanced analytics.

Boosting the effectiveness and efficiency of your pharma sales call strategy is key in succeeding commercially. Above, we went over the following that will help you maximize sales call effectiveness:

  1. Plan The Call & Utilize Reports
  2. Tailor The Approach To The Customer
  3. Bring New Information The Customer Doesn’t Know
  4. Sell With The Patient In Mind
  5. Use Cutting Edge Technology

Pharma companies that strive to improve sales call effectiveness understand the importance of maximizing time spent in front of customers.

They recognize that making the most of each sales call is crucial to help the company grow and achieve its sales objectives.

Technology can drastically improve the quality of sales calls by allowing your reps to prepare adequately for each interaction with their clients. A comprehensive pharma sales operations solution goes way beyond the sales call by streamlining the entire process from start to finish.

Also, if you’d like to learn more about our all-in-one pharma sales operations solution contact us below for free today!

5 Ways Innovative Technology Increases Pharma Sales Growth

Digital technology is continuing to emerge in the pharma industry – when implemented well, sales teams can customize their approach to meet the needs of specific providers and quickly adjust to market shifts.

Of course, there’s still a lot of competition, even with digital technology.

According to a ZS Associates Inc. survey, more than 50% of marketing outreach to doctors now occurs mostly through digital communications.

Furthermore…

If you include all digital channels, the average doctor gets the equivalent of one query every hour from pharma sales reps.

In other words, it’s not enough to just digitize – successful pharma sales teams increasingly need to leverage data analytics, Artificial Intelligence (AI), and other more comprehensive CRM and online mobile tools to maintain their edge.

Person using laptop and advanced technology for analytics.

Here Are Four Ways in which Next-Generation Technology Can Increase Pharma Sales Growth:

1. Contact HCPs Where They’re Already Spending Their Time: Mobile

HCPs today spend about 84 hours a year reading digital marketing material.

When HCPs visit pharma websites, they’re mostly looking for information about the products they’re already using.

Just as pharma sales reps must stay up-to-date on clinical trial information and market trends, HCPs face enormous pressure to stay up-to-date on a wide variety of available treatments.

In other words, HCPs are looking for information from pharma companies. Content that is easily accessible and trustworthy is still both needed and wanted.

It’s up to the pharma sales reps to proactively reach out and provide answers.

Since more than two-thirds of HCP engagement is already via mobile, pharma sales reps need to look for ways to move at least part of their communications online.

Pharma sales teams also need to look for ways to provide meaningful content and tools that improve patient outcomes as well as a critical reading of the literature available.

This may seem obvious, however…

According to Kapost, 65% of pharma sales reps can’t easily identify the most impactful content to send to physicians.

This can have serious consequences if it interferes with engagement or makes the physician suddenly become a “no-see.”

sales operations and/or CRM platform can fix this problem, and aid sales teams by:

  • Helping to keep track of often complex meetings and conversations between pharma sales reps and physicians over time.
  • Helping sales reps know what material to reach out with.
  • Streamlining digital communications with providers to take advantage of increasing emphasis on mobile channels.
Male physician on his laptop in his office.

2. Tailoring Messages to the Provider: Closing the Loop

Successful pharma sales reps are increasingly able to react to customer feedback and idiosyncrasies.

To achieve this kind of customized messaging, pharma companies need to be able to to see and measure what approaches influence sales.

For example, research indicates that oncologists prefer data delivered within six months of the product launch. Similarly, when a certain disease enters the public eye or becomes more relevant, pharma sales teams need to quickly adjust the data they deliver during sales calls.

Both market trends and individual variations can and should influence the way sales reps to approach providers.

Instead of inundating providers with communications and hoping something sticks (which is likely one of the reasons so many of them are fed up with sales reps), there’s an opportunity here to make better use of the data available to customize messaging to suit the needs of specific providers.

The right content makes a difference. To build successful relationships, pharma sales reps need to create two-way conversations that extend beyond the old sample drop-off or booth interaction.

Once sales reps understand provider needs, they’re better equipped to deliver against them, while retaining compliance.

Keeping track of multiple touch-points over time is complicated to do manually, but automating this process allows sales teams to:

  • Segment the market and understand the needs of their customers at an individual level.
  • Quickly identify relevant information and send specific studies or data to providers when it is needed.
  • Track provider preferences over time and maintains accurate records of previous conversations, both for better decision-making and for compliance.

When implemented well, the right pharma sales operations and data analytics solutions can detect market trends before they even happen, making for more agile and effective sales teams.

Male physician smiling while on his tablet in his office.

3. Leveraging AI and Data Analytics To Improve Productivity

Machine learning and Artificial Intelligence (AI) technologies automate some of the most time-consuming sales-related tasks, allowing pharma sales teams to do more in less time.

For example, AI-supported sales tools can often suggest communication templates or recommend relevant content based on previous interactions.

AI is particularly helpful for pre-call planning by making recommendations on what information and content will have the most impact on the meeting, minimizing the time sales reps have to search for relevant materials.

Pharma data analytics tools can also automatically keep track of previous calls, reducing data-entry tasks and paper-based record keeping. Pharma sales reps can also place orders on-site rather than after the fact, increasing their speed and efficiency.

AI is also increasingly effective at linking sales and marketing, learning from past data to determine which tactics and tools will be most effective.

In short, AI-supported CRMs help:

  • Identify and deliver the best, most relevant information during live selling situations.
  • Reduce the time sales reps have to spend on manual research and data entry trends.
  • Quickly identify and provide actionable insight on market trends based on customer interactions.
  • Identify the best practices used by top performers, improving the entire team’s outcomes.
  • In some cases, guide sales reps through the entire sales process, providing data-driven decision support and advice in real-time.
Artificial Intelligence robot using laptop.

4. Streamline Internal Communication

Optimizing the collaboration and communication between pharma sales reps both in and out of the field is essential to increasing productivity and efficiency.

TIP: If you want to learn more about enhancing the effectiveness of communication with pharma sales reps and physicians, read this blog we created: 5 Ways To Maximize Pharma Sales Call Effectiveness.

Digital channels are often very helpful to keep track of team members and communicate effectively, especially when pharma sales reps are in the field frequently.

For example, CRM tools can help you with:

  • Roster management, including assigning tasks, budgeting, and allocating time with sales reps.
  • Simplifying internal communications with a single, centralized messaging interface and built-in templates for faster communication with your team.
  • Providing data to help with territory alignment and prioritization.
  • Establishing uniform incentives for pharma sales reps.

These tools can be essential to simplify the sales process to improve sales numbers, maximize ROI in selling assets, and shrinking the sales lifecycle.

Female team member leading team meeting smiling.

5. Keeping Track Of Everything In The Same Place

Traditional management, minus digital technology, typically involves a lo of physical files, documents, and a lot of paper shuffling and printing before each call.

Sales operations solutions allow everything to be easily stored and located within one dashboard and shared via the cloud. This does away with version control issues and makes the right information immediately accessible to every team member, regardless of where they are.

Centralizing your operations and sales solutions is key. People are most likely to take advantage of both mobile apps and new technology when it fits naturally into how they already work and provides immediately obvious benefits.

Sales management solutions designed for the pharma industry mimic the process of call preparation, and immediately make it faster, reducing the amount of time it takes users to get up to speed and see benefits.

For example, before a call, pharma sales reps might use the system to look up previous call notes to keep their conversation continuous. They might want to know what materials have been used previously and access new information that might be relevant.

Using the software, they could do this either on the go or in the office, and everything’s accessible in one location!

Female physician using tablet.

Digitizing Pharma Sales Is Both A Looming Necessity And An Opportunity

Pharma sales teams today need a technological edge to meet quotas while remaining compliant and following the market trends. Sales optimization software can, and should:

  • Allow all sales reps to see and use everything needed, and access it from the same place.
  • Have the tools and support needed to identify relevant content for providers.
  • Automatically adjust to market changes and provider needs.
  • Customize their approach to specific sales scenarios.
  • Easily and quickly communicate between sales teams in the field and in-house.
  • Conduct the analytics that simply isn’t possible to do manually.

Allowing technology to do more of the manual work that pharma sales reps used to do offers significant opportunities to increase sales team preparedness, offer HCPs real value, and boost efficiencies.

Ultimately, increasing sales numbers and the time pharma sales reps have with HCPs.

How has technology changed your sales approaches? Let us know in the comments below!

Of course, there is a lot of tools out there that can help you, however, few provide everything in just one tool…ours does!

To learn more about our Pharma Sales Operations solution contact us below for free today! We would love to talk with you and explain in even more detail about how our solution can increase your sales growth!

Infographic: Why Pharma Sales Team Alignment Is Essential For Commercial Success

The emergence of digital technology is continuously changing how business is done in various industries, especially pharma. Ensuring your pharma sales team alignment is efficient and effective is essential for being commercially successful.

An effective sales pharma sales team alignment strategy helps pharma companies set the direction, have better communication, and boost sales team performance for better ROI.

Traditionally, to build and manage their sales territory alignment strategy, pharma companies would rely on paper-based methods which resulted in more risk, conflict, frustration, and a higher chance of disappointing results.

However, with modern-day resources such as digital technology, pharma companies can ensure their sales team alignment is as effective as possible with a low chance of risk and increased efficiency.

In this infographic, we highlight why automation and the implementation of advanced solutions can improve your pharma sales team alignment strategy.

Why Pharma Sales team alignment is essential for commercial success infographic.

Want to learn more about our Pharma Sales Operations solution or our Sales Operations Management service? Contact us below for FREE today and we would love to chat with you!

3 Things Pharma Companies Should Know About Territory Alignment

A key component of any company is sales. The product or service must be sold in order for the business to continue running their business.

Pharmaceutical companies aren’t immune to this requirement. This is why they run advertisements online, on the radio, on billboards, and on television. Yet, it’s not only individuals with conditions and diseases that they need to expose their product to.

Pharmaceutical companies also need to convince doctors that their drugs work and could be beneficial to patients. It’s for this reason that pharmaceutical representatives are sent out into the field, to speak with healthcare officials, and showcase the newest drug developments.

However, pharmaceutical companies don’t just hire representatives and let them loose to go to any doctor or hospital they can find. The company creates a territory for each representative. They’re told where to go and how often they should go.

This process is called Sales Territory Alignment.

This process is the most effective way to cover the most territory and ensure that doctors are communicated promptly. Also, it’s an excellent way to incentivize pharmaceutical sales representatives, the science, research, and the technology behind it that’s growing rapidly.

What Does Pharmaceutical Sales Territory Alignment Mean?

At its core, pharmaceutical sales territory alignment is an aligning process that assigns work to sales representatives according to either account listings or geographical areas.

Sometimes, the process is referred to by other names. Such as sales territory re-alignment, sales force alignment, sales force deployment, or sales territory design.

Male physician shaking hands with sales rep.

However, in order to optimize sales, pharmaceutical sales territory alignment has smaller benchmarks in order to reach this goal:

  • Allowing new products or organizational change to dictate territory modification.
  • Ensuring that there’s an equitable workload for all sales representatives.
  • Enabling the company to downsize, thus creating cost reductions.
  • Minimizing travel time for sales representatives.
  • Providing more consistent contact between doctors and sales representatives, which improves customer service.
  • More effectively matching sales representatives with customer types that match their abilities.
  • Establishing uniform incentive opportunities for all sales representatives.

The process of sales territory alignment must be redone on a regular basis because customers, products, trends, and sales representatives go through periods of adjustments and growth.

What Is Considered When Aligning Sales Territory?

Every pharmaceutical company does sales territory alignment in its own way. This is because, even though these companies sometimes sell similar drugs, they have different company needs, structures, and goals.

Most companies create their own territory alignment strategy through balancing factors like travel time, sales potential, and more.

Many companies also tie their territory alignment to their incentive compensation period, which is generally a quarter or a trimester.

By doing this, the territory alignment helps the pharmaceutical representatives see which doctors they need to visit. As well as, which ones will count toward earning a bonus in each incentive compensation period.

Meeting with sales men discussing analytics on a tablet.

Additionally, the pharmaceutical company needs to ensure that they do not waste the potential of any of its representatives by giving them too small of a territory or territory with too few customers. This is also true if the territory is too large or has too many customers.

There are the considerations of ensuring that no representative spends too much time in the car and that multiple representatives don’t have an overlap in territory.

Any of these mistakes both increases the cost of a sale and minimizes growth in revenue.

What Are the Methodologies for Pharmaceutical Sales Territory Alignment?

As previously stated, every pharmaceutical company will use a slightly different process for aligning their territories. The following are the most common methods and what exactly those methods entail:

sales-territory
  • Account Alignment:
    • With this methodology, geography does not matter. Representatives may live a short drive away from one doctor, while another doctor in their territory could require a plane flight to be reached.
    • Oftentimes, pharmaceutical companies will divide the accounts into specialties.
    • In other words, certain representatives will only see pediatricians, while others will only see cardiologists.
    • Allowing the representative to specialize in a specific drug or set of drugs and become more knowledgeable.
  • Geographic Alignment:
    • This is the most common type of alignment used in pharmaceutical companies because it can reduce travel time and travel expenses.
    • With this alignment, pharmaceutical representatives are assigned doctors based on where they are geographical.
    • Depending on how big the company is, how many representatives there are, and doctors needed to be seen, alignment could be grouped by anything from region, state, country, or postal code.
  • Geographic-Account Combination Alignment:
    • This alignment methodology involves a combination of the geographic alignment and the account alignment in order to get the best of both worlds.
    • The one downside of this process is that it can be much more complicated to create.
    • For example, it may give one representative all of the doctors in five adjoining postal codes, but make an exclusion of a handful of specialist doctors, who are given to another representative.

Therefore, perfectly aligning a pharmaceutical sales territory is complex and requires the company to keep in mind their sales goals, continuously collect sales data, and consistently review territories to ensure that best practices are in place. If you would like to learn more, contact us for free below!

Top 5 Pharma CRM Approach-to-HUB Services to Watch Out in 2018

HUB services have been around for about a decade now. In the past, pharma companies were beginning to recognize that there was more involved in bringing new drugs to the market than just getting the dosages into distribution channels.

In addition to more common concerns, pharma was experiencing more and more restrictions from payers. Particularly, from the Prior Authorization (PA) form. This was very time-consuming and had to be filled out ahead of time by the prescriber.

Therefore, the HUBs focused more on reimbursement and prescriber support. Initially run in-house, as the use of HUBs broadened “prescriber support” to “patient support,” third-party HUB service providers began to enter the market.

To date, this vertical industry shows no sign of slowing growth.  

The Culture of Pharma

Arranging R&D, commercial development, production, supply chain and even further disconnection from the stakeholder-facing parts that deal with regulators, policymakers, prescribers, and the end-consumer, is the culture in most pharma companies.

This culture is the primary obstacle to providing transparency, building relationships, and facilitating trust. The outsourcing of HUBs to third-party providers fit into this culture nicely. 

HUB Services in the Age of Patient Centricity

Healthcare is in the midst of a transformation from a provider-based to a patient-centric system.

Powerful forces from patient advocacy groups to policymakers, and the patient’s themselves, are working to ensure that standards of transparency, cost-reduction, results-based practices are met.

Deloitte identifies the following as the driving forces of patient-centricity in healthcare:

Patient- Centricity Healthcare

The aging population suffers from more chronic illnesses driving up costs.

  • Policymakers, pledging to reduce costs by requiring more significant evidence of effectiveness and cost comparisons.
  • Big data analytics and innovations like genomics are enabling faster diagnosis and precise treatment plans.
  • Boundaries between the patient, provider, and other participants are increasingly blurred as new collaborative relationships are formed.
  • Patients are more connected than ever. Their expectations of information and personalized care are growing.

Today’s consumers are more empowered than ever before to take part in their own care. They are demanding more access to information that’s relevant to their conditions and all available information regarding treatments.

Pharmaceutical companies answer to many stakeholders in a broad range of areas such as:

  • Pricing
  • Evidence of value
  • Types of drugs they develop
  • Return on research investment
  • Patient compliance
  • Patient satisfaction
Patient Hub Services

In 2016, Accenture released a report suggesting that while companies in both the United States and Europe were investing more into HUB services, there was still a glaring problem.

The majority of patients were unaware the services were available to them. Accenture predicted that digital channels would be useful to make sure that patients are aware of HUB services.

Accenture also pointed out that online platforms linking the patient, HUB provider, and prescribers together would provide a better experience for all concerned. However, that leaves a critical player out of the mix.

With the push towards results-based medicine and patient centricity, the ability to engage with the patient/consumer has never been more important.

Patient’s Mistrust of Pharma

From doctors to pharmacists, patients choose providers they trust and with whom they have built a relationship. When it comes to faceless drug manufacturers, there’s less control, little choice, and far less trust.

Patients generally go along with their doctor’s medication recommendations, but not without question. While this is true for patients of all ages, the mistrust is even more pronounced among the millennial generation.

Furthermore, millennials are less likely to trust and abide by their doctor’s orders than older generations.

Could better utilization and application of patient HUBs help pharma build real relationships and establish trust with patients?

In-House HUB Success

For pharma companies to successfully bring management of HUB services in-house, they need to work hard to improve efficiencies throughout.

Currently, the priority is toward the design and management of proprietary application programming interfaces (APIs).

This allows HUBs to work seamlessly, transferring massive amounts of data within a standalone portal. Aside from the technical investment, pharma companies must consider the necessary HUB requirements from at least three different perspectives:

hub-services
  • The Vendor: The most positive feature of providing HUB services internally is that you control all aspects of the client relationship. Of course, you do run the risk of jeopardizing turning out quality products, by trying to be all things to both patient and provider. This is the reason third-party providers were born in the first place.
  • The Client/Patient: It’s nice to have options. When vendors partner with service providers to create more streamlined HUBs, usability and experiences are improved.
  • The Prescriber: The strategy pharma uses may not matter as long as PAs are handled and patients are provided with financial support services such as copay assistance if indicated.

Rethinking the Approach to HUB Services: A Progressive Strategy

Of the most popular third-party HUB providers many are affiliated with or owned by other stakeholders like insurers, pharmacies, and health systems:

  • CareMetx – Walgreens
  • CoPilot Provider Support Services – CareMed
  • EnvoyHealth – Diplomat
  • Lash Group – Drug wholesaler, AmerisourceBergen
  • Omnicare Specialty Care Group – CVS
  • OptumRx – United Health
  • Opus Health – QuintilesIMS
  • Sonexus Health – Cardinal
  • Triplefin – Wholesaler, H. D. Smith
  • UBC – Express Scripts

A progressive strategy which incorporates third-party technology, management, and facilitation to allow better integration with various provider-based systems may have the best chance at success.

While improving patient experience is vital, developing a relationship and building trust can’t be overlooked.

Patient Care Experience

Third-party HUB service providers who happen to be supply chain stakeholders (such as the HUB service providers who are connected to pharmacies) may be more resistant to share valuable patient data and may wish to limit access to the patient. 

No Need to Reinvent the Wheel

It sounds like a lot of work, but think of it like this: Aren’t you already using similar technology to manage customer data and relationships through sales and marketing channels?

What if these same tools could be used to bring HUBs in-house?

By approaching HUB services as another arm of customer relationship management (CRM), pharma can utilize existing SaaS technologies to successfully integrate HUBs in-house.

At Prescriber360 we already have a handle on the workflows that exist in healthcare. Our systematic approach to data collection, analytics, and strategy not only supports sales and marketing but is also geared toward patient engagement and health outcome monitoring.

This is an increasingly important part of value-based care.

How to Measure Pharma Salesforce Effectiveness the Right Way

In 2019, commercial pharmaceutical companies operate in a progressively changing environment; the ever-increasing pressure to reduce healthcare costs puts the industry under even greater scrutiny from both the public and regulatory bodies.

Unfortunately, this drive to cut costs in the marketplace can directly impact the availability of research and development resources which in turn impacts the company’s ability to bring new, innovative drugs to market.

This is primarily because the drug approval process is extremely lengthy and expensive; with an average of only 1 in 5,000 drugs that ever make it to market, the odds of launching a blockbuster drug are slim.

Regardless of the unfriendly forces at work in the marketplace, the ultimate goal of a commercial pharma company is to provide life-saving products while remaining profitable

Smiling pharmacist and customer discussing a product in the pharmacy-2

So, with so many negative factors outside the company’s control, the attention naturally shifts to improving internal processes to gain a competitive advantage and achieve operational excellence on multiple levels.

Achieving excellence in sales, in particular, remains to be one of the most critical areas of focus for any pharma or biotech organization looking to thrive in this new environment.

So, they must be fully committed to measuring salesforce effectiveness the right way to truly understand how success can be achieved and replicated across the organization.

The salesforce of the organization plays a pivotal role in driving prescriptions and generating revenue.

Several factors play a vital role in incompetent and consistently effective salesforce:

  • Difficulty bringing new products to market.
  • Managed care pressures.
  • Lower profit margins.
  • Reduced access to prescribers.
  • Longer sales cycles.
Close up of human hands using virtual panel-1

The Traditional Method of Measuring Salesforce Effectiveness

About a decade ago, measuring salesforce effectiveness was much more straightforward because the pharmaceutical-medical landscape was far less complex.

At that time, tracking a few specific key performance indicators was sufficient enough to evaluate the performance of your sales reps:

  • Call Goal Attainment
  • Territory and Customer Coverage (Reach and Frequency)
  • Sales Goal Attainment

Although these metrics are still being utilized today, they no longer paint a complete picture and must be augmented by a variety of new metrics:

Favorable Access to Doctors

In years past, direct access to doctors was relatively easy. Whether your reps could get in front of their target doctors and deliver the approved marketing message wasn’t a concern.

Now, territories can change annually and the difference between territories can be extreme; making access to doctors more limited for certain sales reps.

doctor handshake with a patient at doctors bright modern office in hospital-2

Simple Decision-Making 

In the past, a doctor’s decision-making process was relatively simple.

Previously, managed care did not have much influence over the prescribing decisions of physicians, allowing pharma reps to easily fulfill their primary purpose of educating physicians on the benefits of their drugs and ultimately to influence their prescription choice.

Now, a doctor’s prescribing decision is heavily influenced by managed care plans, accurate and thorough educational information, and by the patient’s themselves.

Unique Products With Unique Selling Points 

Much like most marketable products, successful prescription drugs have unique characteristics.

Twenty years ago, the market was much less crowded, leaving a much bigger piece of the pie for each new market entrant.

With only a couple of options available in each therapeutic class, reps could easily sell the benefits of their products and convince doctors to prescribe them for their patients.

Now, the market is saturated with many different drugs in each therapeutic class and projected efficacy.

Serious doctor listening to patient explaining her painful in his office

So, How Can You Measure Salesforce Effectiveness The Right Way? 

While some of the basic principles of successful selling in the pharma industry are still in use today, others no longer hold.

It is no longer enough to call on the right customers (Reach) at the right number of times (Frequency) to ensure success.

Among the elements that add to the complexity of the current selling environment:

  • Rapidly changing the pharma-medical landscape.
  • Lack of truly unique products.
  • Increased influence of managed care organizations over doctor’s prescribing decisions.

These factors and many others contribute to the fact of what’s necessary for success in one territory may be completely different from what’s needed in another.

So, the question naturally arises – How should we measure sales force effectiveness in a changing marketplace? 

Pads with color diagrams and color shining on background-1

Yes, it is still essential to make sure your reps call on the right prescribers the right number of times. But, it is also important to make sure they meet their daily, weekly, and quarterly call goals.

However, reaching 100% on ALL these metrics will no longer guarantee success because these metrics by themselves don’t go deep enough.

They do not answer these important questions:

  • How did we achieve the results that we currently have? 
  • How do we replicate these results in the long term? 

To better answer these questions and more accurately measure and replicate salesforce effectiveness, your pharma company must also measure:

  • What they know.
  • How they behave.
  • How consistently they apply their knowledge.

These three areas will give you a more in-depth understanding of the quality aspect of your salesforce’s performance.

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Knowledge

Here are examples of specific areas to measure when it comes to the level of acknowledge of your salesforce:

  • Customer
  • Territory
  • Product
  • Therapeutic Class
  • Selling Skill
  • Competition

Behavior 

Due to the subjective nature of behavior assessments, determining how your salesforce behaves in customer interactions is a bit more difficult, but certainly not impossible.

Here are two of the most effective ways to measure sales reps behavior:

  • Role Plays
  • Field Coaching

Consistency

The third and final measurement refers to the sales rep’s consistency in the application of knowledge and behavior.

The answer to this can be somewhat wrapped into the Reach – Frequency – Call Goal Attainment Numbers.

If your reps excel in all three of these AND have high Sales Goal Attainment numbers, they are likely to be performing at a higher level in all other markers – knowledge, behavior, and consistency of application.

On the flip side, however, high Reach – Frequency – Call Goal Attainment – with low Sales Goal Attainment may indicate subpar performance in one or more of the following measurements – knowledge, behavior or consistency.

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Measuring salesforce effectiveness the right way is not only useful in the short-term but vital to understanding the strengths and weaknesses of your long-term salesforce strategy.

Without this information, you will not be able to elevate your sales team’s performance, because you won’t be able to pinpoint the skillsets necessary for success, regardless of the complexity of the environment.

Tailored technology solutions, like robust sales operations software, can help give you the tools to measure some of these metrics easily and efficiently so that you can focus your efforts on building a first-class salesforce.

In your experience, have you found another critical element of salesforce effectiveness that wasn’t mentioned here?

Please let us know in the comments, we’d love to hear about your experience and make this a more comprehensive resource for other pharma and biotech companies.