The pharmaceutical industry has faced a number of challenges in recent years. A general reduction in the sales workforce has triggered a predictable decline in sales, while heightened global competition has made it more difficult for labs to set themselves apart through the quality of their products alone.
With the demise of “blockbuster drugs”, pharmaceutical companies have had to do more with less resources. The sanitary crisis has further disturbed the habits of sales representatives, forcing them to rely on digital channels, while most of them really shine during face-to-face interactions with healthcare practitioners.
When you factor in increasingly strict regulations and an average approval time of twelve years for the 5 in 5,000 drugs that do hit the market… It’s no wonder pharmaceutical companies are always on the lookout for ways to improve sales force results. And Sales Force Effectiveness (or SFE) is one of them.
Why is SFE important for pharma companies?
Pharmaceutical Sales Force Effectiveness is a strategy put in place to enhance the impact of a pharma company’s sales effort. SFE processes enable sales representatives and managers to prioritize their work by providing them with important information and recommendations.
SFE dashboards are necessary to implement this strategy. These dashboards incorporate general market trends and sector-wide performance indicators that make it easier to keep up with an ever-shifting industry. They also include performance analytics allowing teams to understand what they’re doing right, and where they’ve gone wrong.
If they become more automated, personalized and interactive, SFE dashboards can ease the transition of pharma companies into the data age. Here are a few steps that can be undertaken to bring your SFE to the next level.
1- Define clear objectives and priorities to increase sales
There’s a risk when trying to reach quick-wins with your SFE: focusing on irrelevant KPIs and prioritizing actions that do not match your overall objectives. So before diving into the nitty-gritty of SFE analytics and implementation, make sure you and everyone on your team is 100% clear on strategic priorities. This work will require an in-depth understanding of your market, competitors and of the general healthcare trends in your sector.
Once you’ve built a strategy map, keep everyone on the same page by communicating your priorities to all internal stakeholders. Ideally, your list of must-watch KPIs should trickle down from the strategy map.
For each objective, ask yourself:
- Where you can get the relevant data
- Is there an existing metric that allows you to track your progress?
- If not, can you design a new one
- If you have more than one metric, are they complementary or is one more straight-forward than the other?
2- Gain competitive advantage by understand your target’s expectations
The pharma industry’s product-centric approach has been challenged by the recent shifts in the healthcare landscape. Pharmaceutical companies are increasingly understanding that paying close attention to their customer’s needs is the winning bet. Each healthcare practitioner is unique when it comes to their preferred channels of interaction or to the content they find interesting. Thankfully, digital omnichannel strategies allow you to factor in this level of granularity and to personalize interactions.
Your SFE cannot do away with good customer knowledge. Make sure your CRM is well updated by your sales team and integrate any behavioral information you get to your SFE dashboard.
3- Choose the most relevant KPIs
The point of SFE KPIs is to allow you to measure market performance by period and brick and to monitor the evolution of prescriptions over time. If you do this right, you’ll be able to flag at-risk sectors and products. But not everything that can be measured is worth measuring. The KPIs that end up on your dashboard have to be relevant to your company-wide objectives, but they also have to be easily understandable by everyone involved. If sales reps are to adjust their daily decision according to KPIs, these KPIs should be transparent. A best practice we often advise : integrating a glossary to your dashboard to explain the way each metric is calculated.
While each set of KPI has to be adapted to the specific context in which they’ll be used, here are the specific areas that are usually monitored for pharmaceutical SFE:
- Listing of doctors, specialists, hospitals and customers
- Covered territory
- Product information
- Selling skills
Targets and consistency in application of targets
- Number of prescription Vs targets per brick
- Number of prescription Vs target per product
- Reach and Frequency of visits per doctor
- Reach and Frequency of visits per Specialist
- Reach and Frequency of visits per Hospital
- Call Goal Attainment number
- Visit Goal Attainment number
4- Build an automated and flexible management solution
Even the most insightful data can quickly become useless if it is not accessible by the people who need it the most. Fine-tuning your strategy and selecting the right KPIs should allow you to design a management solution that is suitable for your teams. The goal is to build a dashboard that will become a single-source of truth for your teams. All your important data should be gathered in a unique, automated and up-to-date reporting dashboard.
You can get help in the implementation of a relevant dashboard that will sit on top of your BI system. This will allow you to spend less time constructing your reports and dedicate more time to analyzing your performance, visualizing different scenarios and drawing the right conclusions.
5- Support your sales representatives with a mobile-first pharma dashboard
An SFE dashboard should present the most relevant information to each user and help sales reps make on-the-fly decisions. The thing about sales representatives: they’re often out and about, meeting healthcare practitioners and promoting your products. The tools you provide them with should be adapted to their mobile, fast-paced work. Tech-enabled pharmaceutical sales rep will better adapt to their new role.
Make sure any dashboard you adopt is responsive, which means it will be adapted to various devices: tablets or smartphones. Key figures should be presented in a visual, impactful way, so representatives can understand the strengths and weaknesses of their strategy and adjust them when necessary.
We know it can sound daunting to adapt your existing SFE strategy to incorporate the wealth of data available to you. We’re here to help: reach out if you’d like to chat about your pharma company’s needs.