Demystifying Pharma SFE – Sales Force Effectiveness

is-your-sales-team-making-you-go-crazy?Sales Force Effectiveness is a strategy that enables the sales force to target bulk of its effort towards highly profitable customers and limit coverage of less profitable physicians.

It involves around sales team strategy, talent management, remuneration and support processes.

What is Sales force effectiveness(SFE) in the pharma context?

SFE is all about keeping your company ahead of shifting market dynamics by rapidly developing and evolving new sales models around physician access and detailing channels. It’s very important to develop physician trust and confidence around all aspects of the pharma business. SFE in pharma is also achieved when cross functional departments compliment  during the critical product launch phase. This helps management review on-the-fly performance analysis and keep up compliance with the ever-increasing regulatory changes.

What benefits can be derived from Pharma SFE?

  • Ability to responds to pressures from customers, competitors & changing economy.
  • Management has greater control over the size and structure of the sales team.
  • Promotes coaching, feedback, recognition, and training to the team
  • Medical reps can better target, prioritize, assess physician needs and develop solutions around those needs
  • First line managers benefits from listening, persuading, and closing deals
  • Sales reps develop their competencies according to the current market needs
  • Growing physician satisfaction and loyalty resulting in repeat sales(RRx)
  • Identify all factors really influencing prescriber behavior including messages which are having the most impact on actual prescribing
  • Optimize all relevant resources for a brand or portfolio across multiple geographies & activities.

Understanding what Physicians value


Adopting Customer Centric Approach

A customer-centric approach focused on how best to deliver value to the physician will guide these efforts. Based on field data, segments and territories, pharma companies must paint an individual, centralized picture of each physician and then use this information to create appropriate and relevant communications. It is crucial for pharma companies to make sure that physicians receive the information they need at the right time and in their favored format. This customer-centric  approach enhances the role of the sales reps. They become trusted partners in a two-way dialogue, which increases their influence and improves job satisfaction.

Sales force is the single largest spend in sales & marketing for pharma companies. Yet study after study shows that the returns gained from this spend are not outstanding.

All these activities lead to sustainable and valuable relationships with physicians and thereby increase profits and market share for pharma companies. Improving sales force effectiveness may seem overwhelming at first; but persistence, continual monitoring, and regular re-assessment are the key drivers to gain maximum market share growth.

Physician Prescribing Trend


New industry models & their implications on Sales Force Effectiveness

Many leading pharmaceutical companies are now rethinking their definition of sales, marketing, corporate affairs, medical affairs and other disparate groups. In some companies there is a clear move towards a much more holistic and integrated approach to sales and marketing — one in which selling and sales force effectiveness is not viewed as just the responsibility of the field force, but as an integral and interlinked part of a much wider picture. Sales force effectiveness typically meant three things to a pharmaceutical company:

  1. Increasing the number of calls with physicians
  2. Increasing the length of calls
  3. Effectiveness of the messages delivered within the calls.

Almost no pharma company was looking at sales force effectiveness from the perspective of how the roles of people it should be selling to — those who influence prescribing — were changing, and how their individual needs were changing. Today that position has reversed. The dominant themes in sales force effectiveness nowadays are more related to aligning the sales force approach with the new realities of the healthcare environment.

3 areas are emerging as driving the new approach:


1. Aligning marketing and sales to match the healthcare environment

In the new healthcare environment, prescribing decisions are influenced by a wide range of stakeholders. To maximize sales opportunities the pharma companies must take a coordinated and consistent approach to each of these and other key groups. Interactions and messages will be optimized for each group based on their role in healthcare decision making and on their specific needs. The field force must not work in isolation, but instead be aligned around the organization of its healthcare customers.

2. The use of analytics to drive sales force approaches

Old-fashioned segmentation models which simply target high prescribing physicians will be replaced by more advanced and more impactful models. For example, a more statistically-driven approach that targets under-served physician segments is more likely to get a positive response to sales visits – and can add a vital few percentage points to sales. Segmenting physicians and other new stakeholders into behavioral and attitudinal segments will allow for tailored messages to be developed and more meaningful interactions to be held. This concept of differentiated detailing can be enabled and brought to the next stage with the help of innovative technology.

3. Content-driven interactions between sales reps & customers

The sales rep visit must once again come to be seen as a valuable interaction by physicians. Instead of being seen as a passive transmitter of corporate marketing messages the sales rep must be able to provide high levels of valuable technical product knowledge and understanding. Physicians will want to be treated as partners, not marketing targets and this will lead to a major shift in the current profile of the field force.

Utilizing new technologies for Pharma sales excellence

A Pharma CRM can immensely help companies formulate growth strategies. This is because SFE is a key component of a Pharma CRM. Using advanced predictive models to evaluate sales force effectiveness by varying organization size, hierarchy, geography, workloads by incorporating business rules and constraints for finding out the Key Result Areas(KRA). Below are some of the indicators to find out whether your company needs to implement SFE. If your company is facing anyone of the below indicators; then its the right time to go for a CRM.

  •     Losing market share Quarterly, poor sales results, low margin pressures
  •     Post-Merger or re-organization of company
  •     No client relationship management system
  •     Under performing sales team
  •     Rising cost of travel, training and meetings
  •     High or growing attrition rate in the sales team
  •     Unable to manage existing relationship with Doctors when a new rep replaces the old one
  •     New product launch into the market
  •     Track and take preemptive measures to tackle market competition
  •     New approaches to client satisfaction – behavior of customer-interaction needs to change
  •     Inefficient Daily sales reporting wasting time and accountability.

Sales Force Effectiveness (SFE) tools provide key insights into the effectiveness of messaging, materials, sales tactics and insights to medical reps on doctor prescribing behavior. It’s all about having the right data, performance management, and communication tools working for you as an enabler to meet Sales Force Effectiveness in Pharmaceutical industry.

Medismo Pharma CRM is the result of 3 years of research and field trials which lets you re-look at your present selling practices, address inefficiencies and add new capabilities.

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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