How to collect & maintain physician profile for effective MCL targeting?


How to Target & Segment customers?doctor-targeting-segmentation

Targeting is the process of segmenting the most valuable customers to enable your sales force to dedicate their effort to highly profitable customers and limit coverage of less profitable physicians. From our past Pharma CRM implementations, we have observed that even small improvements in targeting can help pharma marketing companies generate substantial sales growth. Savvy Sales Managers are reinventing their sales approaches to respond to new market environments.

In India, most of the physician profile data is collected directly by the reps through field observation & customer interviews. This is largely because no 3rd party data is available unlike the American & European countries. To effectively target doctors , the medical sales reps work with their sales managers (also called as Area sales manager or Area Business Manager) to choose the target customers.

How to create & maintain Physician profiles?

  1. The most basic form of data collection is by gathering the Physician data from the Nameplate. This is true for a clinic or a hospital. At this stage, physician name, specialty, qualification and visit hours can be collected.
  2. The next step would be to get practice related finer details from Front office executives, office managers, pharmacists, and/or nurses.
  3. Profiles data could be also developed by observation – for instance, by keeping a record of patient flow or number of patients waiting during specific visiting hours of the day.
  4. For collecting Rx data, Medical Reps has to depend on attached chemist or nearby pharmacies.
  5. Secondary sales data is also a broad measure to gauge the Rx potential.
  6. Some companies may want to have KOL profiles, which makes it important for Medical Reps to keep track of clinical trials, speaker engagements etc.

Profiling physicians typically requires reps to make estimates, which gets perfected over time. If the reps are not sure about their ability to accurately gauge physician activity, it can seriously impact the quality of the MCL(Master Call List) or Campaign. A credible profile database gives sales managers a powerful tool to drive sales effort toward the most potentially profitable customers. We have seen great success when medical reps and first-line managers(ASM or ABM) collaboratively develop target lists from the physician profile database.

The current scenario of Physician segmentation

Two key strategies are used by pharmaceutical companies to increase physicians’ exposure to brand messages: a coverage strategy, in which the maximum number of “right” doctors is seen with the “right” brand messages; and a frequency strategy, which aims to ensure that those doctors are seen the correct number of times to reinforce the messages and influence prescribing.

Neither of these strategies takes into account the following key issues:
1. The spread of prescribing opportunities is not uniform across customers. Hence, for a coverage strategy, a proportion of effort is being wasted as each customer is seen equally;

2. Different customer groups or segments may adopt different messages as a result of varying brand campaigns and marketing. The delivery of messages has not necessarily been targeted by customer segment;

3. Depending on the customer groups or segments, a different frequency of calls may be needed to respond to and adopt a brand’s messages. Neither strategy allows for different levels of calling by customer group;

4. Sales teams, when they are incentivized on productivity, are more likely to approach the ‘easy-to-see’ customers, rather than difficult access customers and could potentially be unaware of differences in prescribing potential.

Clearly a new paradigm in sales force strategy is required to incorporate the range of different customer values and needs to enable sales force resources to be allocated and directed according to these needs deliver brand campaign objectives by varying the message and frequency of  message to maximize brand adoption and prescribing. The fundamental issue is understanding the customer: current and future prescribing habits, needs and values, and the likely and relative response (versus competitors) to potential brand campaigns and messages.

How to effectively target through Physician segmentation?

Physician Specific

  • •Geographic (e.g., Urban)
  • •Demographic (e.g., Gender)
  • •Affiliations (e.g., Group practices)
  • •Values
  • •Personality
  • •Lifestyle

Product Specific

  • •Prescriber status
  • •Prescription frequency
  • •Product mix
  • •Product market shares
  • •Preferences/Loyalty
  • •Perceptions
  • •Attitudes


Group physicians with similar treatment preferences:

  • •What they prescribe?
  • •Why they prescribe?
  • •Who they prescribe?
  • •When they prescribe?


  • Optimize physician targets based on:
  • •Treatment needs/Preferences
  • •Media consumption
  • •Demographics
  • •Sales force constraints

Companies need to be realistic about the economic attractiveness of each physician segment and their ability to influence prescribers, based on historical evidence. The low-prescribing, low-potential segment calls are all wasted. In the low-potential, highmarket share segment, calls are typically wasted due to overcalling: some response occurs, but the returns are generally low. Where investment is traditionally concentrated, in the high-potential, low-prescribing segment, calls are also wasted by overcalling. In contrast, in the very responsive high-potential, high-penetration segment call opportunities are wasted due to under-calling.

Frequently, a significant numbers of calls is being made to doctors in the low-potential, low-share segment. IMS research shows that often little difference in the call levels is achieved with high-potential decile doctors compared with low-potential decile doctors.

The impact of lifecycle factors on sales force targeting

Promotional responsiveness, along with market potential, provides the basis for advanced resource optimization and targeting strategies. Over the lifetime of a brand, the promotional responsiveness curve will gradually fall away due to higher market penetration, more innovation in its class, increasing competition and, ultimately, generics taking over. Therefore, sales force targeting should change as the product matures.

A properly sized selling organization assures that doctors receive appropriate coverage, company products get proper representation, the sales force is stretched but not overworked, and the company makes an appropriate investment in its sales resources. A properly structured pharmaceutical sales force is of equal importance. It ensures that the appropriate selling process is implemented for every targeted market segment.

Role of Pharma SFE Tools for Physician Segmentation & profile maintenance

Physician profiles which have matured over time with several data points to derive a median effectively help in identifying past errors and gives medical rep great confidence in the accuracy & credibility of the profile database.

Using CRM and SFA Tools; different groups of physicians are segmented on key variables and help sales managers understand the drivers based on sub-groups of physicians. This helps convince physicians to change to your products. In India where we lack credible 3rd party customer profile data, with the proper physician profile database in hand – pharmaceutical companies will be able to track, report, and manage targeting performance.

Sales force effectiveness is a multifaceted issue, which can be only improved with judicious use of technology; that act as a key enabler for sales force effectiveness.


About the Author

Dipesh Majumder

I am a Marketing Technologist, a strategist & a visionary with over 8 years of experience in traditional & digital marketing. I have been responsible for the development & execution of sales force effectiveness strategies, tools, processes for global Pharma sales organizations. Lead key initiatives, critical projects & continuous improvement activities.

Chennai, India ·

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