Missing the Mark(et) - Pharmaceutical Executive


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

Pharmaceutical Executive

"All brand positions have two bosses—a functional manager and a brand manager—to whom they are deployed," says Don Apruzzese, senior director of consumer marketing for AstraZeneca. "For example, a consumer brand director would report to me for skill development and performance management, but also to the commercial brand leader to whom he or she is deployed for day-to-day assignments. This allows us to maintain a brand focus while sharing best practices and realizing efficiencies across brands and within the function."

As the importance of a fully integrated and longitudinally managed promotional strategy grows, marketing and market research must play a larger role in sales strategy. Outsourcing partners must also align with the brand's strategy and operate as true partners if the overall business process is to focus on the brand mission.

5) Plan to Make the Change

Introducing a radically different marketing philosophy requires the careful execution of a complete change-management plan. Beginning with a vision and definition of success, the plan must implement continuous measurement and clear communication, and provide training, motivational programs, and positive feedback to instill commitment. At the end of the day, many people will need to function or act differently, and changing behaviors is not an easy task. Most companies will choose to brand these efforts both internally and externally, communicating the intent and purpose of the shift not only to employees, but to Wall Street and to prescribers themselves. Others may choose to implement quietly, without calling attention to their strategy. Either way, focusing the company as a whole will be a strategic advantage at a time when many will be second-guessing their own and their competitor's strategy.

6) Keep an Eye on the Competition and the Changing Market

Almost every pharmaceutical company sees flaws in its operational model, and presumably, all have hopes of improving. Some are already implementing plans, and others will no doubt take longer to set goals. So one primary question is: How effective is a relationship-based model if competitors do not also change? Can a relationship model stand up against a competitor's increase in reach and frequency? What if all companies change to the same micro-territories, for example? These are valid questions, and they speak to the competitive issues that brought about the arms race to begin with. The answer will lie in careful, calculated planning that responds to competitive changes in the marketplace instead of rushing to copy or counteract competitors' moves.

The greatest dangers during implementation are ill-defined views of success and failures to measure progress toward goals. Without this clarity of purpose and progress, the industry will likely quickly revert back to the volume-based model. IBM found in its 2004 Global CRM Study that success rates in implementing a Customer Relationship Management system rose from less than 15 percent to more than 70 percent when guidelines were clarified. The importance of careful implementation cannot be overstated.

Change-management theory holds that organizations do not change until the status quo is intolerable. It would seem that many manufacturers have reached that point. They are ready to undertake significant, if not sweeping, change. The effort will require a sound strategy, consistent measurement, unwavering commitment, strong leadership, and great coordination and speed. But, ultimately, this transformation will help restore faith in pharmaceutical science and renew appreciation for the value the industry's field force can deliver in driving better healthcare.

Chris Nickum is practice leader, sales and account management at IMS Management Consulting. Tim Kelly is practice leader, business process services at IMS Information Management Consulting. They can be reached at


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