Missing the Mark(et) - Pharmaceutical Executive

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Missing the Mark(et)
Pharma spends billions on data. Sales reps crowd the waiting rooms. So why is the doctor out?


Pharmaceutical Executive


Using advancements in industry data sources and analytics, companies can go far beyond this simple approach by incorporating the influences and attitudes of each physician. A physician's prescribing value is a function of the opportunity to prescribe, plus his or her attitude toward prescribing, along with outside influences. By building these multiple dimensions into physicians' profiles, it is possible to understand the "why" behind the "what" and "how" of their behavior. Furthermore, when all these dimensions are assessed in a state-of-the-art segmentation technique, the model recasts itself to reveal a completely new view of each customer. This enhanced view of the customer and his or her situation is challenging the industry to change its operating model to center on individual customers or segments.

Suddenly, it is possible to see why each physician segment has a different response to promotion. These differences were masked completely when the only factor considered was prescribing volume. Imagine the frustration that many physicians in the above segmentation would experience if a company increased the number of reps who called, mirrored them to increase frequency, and pushed the commercial message even harder. This familiar scenario would irritate some, and simply waste the time of others.

With deeper insight into the attitudes that drive physician behavior, the question changes from "Which doctors should we call on, and how often?" to "What objectives and approaches should we pursue, segment by segment?"

2) Recast Promotional Strategies

Insights from deep, highly detailed segmentation help reallocate promotional channels, including the sales force, segment by segment. The following questions must be asked for each segment:

  • What do we know about the segment?
  • How do we approach it today?
  • What new approaches might we use to build relationships while efficiently delivering our message?
  • What are our objectives and our plans for achieving them?
  • What promotional efforts will be involved?

Only at this point can a new sales model revise workload requirements and change role definitions and organizational structures. The result will be:

  • More effective allocation of the field force
  • Fitting the sales force/representatives to each segment
  • Company-wide business and promotional plans for penetrating each segment
  • More efficient and effective delivery of marketing messages
  • Overall improved relations with the customers.

3) Reengineer Business Processes and IT Infrastructure

In order to take advantage of everything that they know about physicians—and will learn through more meaningful exchanges and deeper analyses— pharmaceutical companies need to have the IT infrastructure to maintain and access a single view of the customer.

While Big Pharma is now starting customer master initiatives or commercial excellence programs to eliminate functional data marts in favor of one, integrated, granular data source, most companies are still years away from being able to leverage a 360-degree view of customers across the organization. A company's speed and flexibility in adapting to a new IT infrastructure will be a critical factor in its ability to compete.

4) Reorganize, Inside and Out

Today, nearly all pharmaceutical companies are organized by functional areas, whereas CPG companies almost always run brand-centric or franchise-centric businesses, in which brand teams are made up of research, marketing, and sales, all under one umbrella. Their rationale is that each brand is different and deserves its own team dedicated to advancing it. The structure eliminates duplicative work, fosters greater focus on the strategic plan, and brings greater cohesion to marketing and sales. AstraZeneca, for example, has found success with a hybrid organizational model the company describes as "customer-focused and brand-led."


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