These are challenging times for senior operations executives who support sales, marketing, and managed markets. The pipeline
shortfall, drug-approval delays, and increasing regulatory complexity have squeezed budgets while raising revenue targets.
The Medicare Modernization Act (MMA) has caused some of the most far-reaching changes in the sales and marketing landscape,
as government purchasing power creates both new opportunities and greater restrictions. In addition, traditional modes of
selling have saturated the market, and the sales model the industry knows and loves is no longer so effective.
In this tough new climate, operations executives must ramp up competencies quickly to meet the demand for change, while at
the same time, they are under constant pressure to do more with less.
Managed Markets Skill Sets
A bellwether for the industry because of their experience—most average 25 years or more—commercial ops execs are inherently
pragmatic. Fortunately for pharma, their on-the-ground perspective is invaluable in dealing with today's pressures—rapid changes
in managed markets, reduced effectiveness of traditional sales models, and the resulting challenge to marketing to take a
more balanced approach.
To measure this perspective more accurately, we developed a benchmark—a comprehensive dataset of blinded, objective information
that shows how companies in similar circumstances are managing these issues; in effect, a sophisticated gap analysis. The
benchmark is based on in-depth one-on-one interviews with commercial operations executives at 15 of the top 35 US-based drugmakers,
representing $62 billion in revenue. Our goal was to get the execs' take on current challenges and what they most urgently
need in order to meet them. We also asked them about their priorities for sales, marketing, and managed markets organizations
over the next three years. The execs themselves are responsible for a total of $5.5 billion in total spending and manage 2,500
professionals. Benchmark interviews—which consisted of 40 questions, both quantitative and qualitative—were conducted by senior
TGaS Advisors personnel.
Sales Force Skill Sets
Many executives spoke of the coming year as a critical time for innovation. While all cited the need for new models and enhanced
competencies, none spoke about areas they could see cut or reduced. But the urgent need for change came through loud and clear,
making 2008 a Year of Tough Choices for these seasoned decision makers.
Marketing Skill Sets
Size Matters in Outlook
Several findings were of particular interest. First, executives expressed mixed views about the future, with execs at mid-tier
firms far more optimistic about, and confident in, their own company than the industry as a whole. But all share a deep concern
for the ongoing viability of information sources, as legislative bodies and professional societies increasingly limit access
to prescriber data; some are developing their own proprietary data as a result.
Industry reputation is also key. Respondents agreed that the single-most-important issue to focus on over the next three years
is "public perception of the industry." The number-two priority is "managed markets' perception of the industry."