It's All in the Details

Delivering the right information to the right rep at the right time can greatly increase sales force effectiveness.
Oct 01, 2004


Average number of samples per month
Benjamin Franklin once said, "An investment in knowledge pays the best interest." Pharma companies are investing in knowledge, with the aim of reaping big returns, by purchasing tools that analyze physician, prescription, and marketplace data for their sales forces. But the declining productivity of pharmaceutical sales forces indicates that there are opportunities to increase return on investment (ROI) by giving reps "actionable knowledge," information they can actually use in the marketplace.

With the advent of market saturation, sales call frequency, duration, and productivity continue to diminish. Although the number of reps in the field has increased approximately six-fold in the past 20 years, the number of doctors called on has stayed about the same, while the time they can expect to spend with each has decreased. G&S Research just published RepReview, outlining findings from surveys of 4,570 pharma reps. According to the report, 78 percent indicated they do not get enough time with physicians to adequately detail them, and 77 percent said that their time with physicians had either remained the same or decreased from last year.

Integrated segmentation addresses this challenge by enabling sales reps to "personalize" their outreach to physicians. As a predictive model that analyzes prescribing behaviors, demographics, and psychographics, integrated segmentation can drive tailored brand messages and strategies that resonate strongly with physicians.

But such sophisticated analyses deliver little value if sales reps can't (or won't) access and apply them. This can happen because prescriber, sales, or market information is difficult to access, too general, overwhelming in volume, or unclear in its applications. By not serving their intended purpose, these analyses fail to have an optimal impact on sales force effectiveness and ROI.

This article demonstrates how brand and sales managers can avoid this problem by ensuring that sales team members are both able and motivated to use the data analyses they receive. By analyzing the specific roles, goals, and needs of each member of the sales force, managers can customize the content, format, timing, and delivery of data analyses to fuel positive results.

Information OverloadMost brand and sales managers provide their reps with a "Swiss Army knife" approach to reports—a single tool designed to serve several functions. They tend to package many data views, trends, perspectives, and comparisons in one report, hoping that the more they send, the more effective their reps will be.


Customization Case Study.
Unfortunately, the reverse is true. By packaging too much information into a single report, these documents become cumbersome and many reps are not likely to use them at all. The manager's challenge is to determine which information, delivered how and when, will optimize sales force effectiveness. This is a two-step process that requires knowing who is going to use the information and what they will try to do with it.

Understand users' tasks. First, managers need to understand the discrete tasks that each sales rep must perform to meet multiple goals. For example, to meet sales goals, a rep needs to see current results, understand which strategies were (and were not) successful, learn how to adjust tactics in response, implement those changes, and then assess how the changes affect performance.