With the massive 2004 Incentives Show just recently behind us, it's hard not to compare pharma's motivational tactics with
those used by other industries.
Cream of the Corp. Louise Anderson is president/CEO of Anderson Performance Improvement.
In some respects, pharma companies are getting better at incentives. After some experimentation, DTC marketers are generating
returns on their couponing and other rebating initiatives. Professional marketers, with guidance from the PhRMA Code, have
completely revamped their thinking on freebies and now offer merchandise that help physicians administer patient care.
But that begs the question: In what ways have sales managers changed how they reward and recognize reps?
Louise Anderson, president and CEO of Anderson Performance Improvement, a sales effectiveness consultancy, says the industry
routinely uses noncash merchandise incentives during routine selling—but there is room for improvement. Specifically, Anderson
cautions the industry to rethink how it deploys rep incentive programs during a merger and acquisition and who those programs
Pharm Exec: What happens to the sales force during a merger? Anderson: Even if management of the organization clearly says they won't touch the sales side of the business, nobody believes it.
Look at publicly held companies before and after they merge or are acquired—reps' performance usually deteriorates measurably.
Add to that the fact that new sales strategies for products often stand still, and companies find that the inertia caused
by the transition can be financially devastating.
Three Steps to Better Performance
At what point is a merger most damaging to the sales force? Often times the rumor mill is more damaging than the actual merger. That's because most sales reps in the field don't feel
the effects of the merger unless the company changes its systems at the same time.
What can companies do to increase the effectiveness of their reps during times of transition? Organizations should communicate to the sales force about the positives and strength of joining two companies together. They
should stay customer focused by specifically talking to physicians about the benefit of merging.