New types of technology will enable this integrated approach. Currently, companies measure sales activity and provide data
on targeting and sales performance, but fall short of linking available information from other sources and offering it to
reps. For example, if the marketing department conducts direct-mail and telemarketing initiatives, and a different functional
group is conducting a series of regional promotional events, that information is not necessarily easily available to the field
in any kind of holistic or integrated way. Instead, reps should be able to access, in a central location, company-generated
influences that have affected a given physician—such as noting a physician's response via a business reply card to a direct-mail
campaign, the physician's e-detailing activity, or a particular provider's telemarketing activity and response. This type
of closed-loop marketing creates a more customer-centric approach that provides better influencer-level insight by connecting
each resource, providing direction and metrics, and continually re-evaluating key influences and ROI.
This allows companies to mix and match their selling efforts with reps and other types of non-personal efforts by identifying
the particulars of influence on a given prescriber and allocating resources accordingly. It also allows for a better analysis
of impressionable sales—how much impact can be had on a given physician's prescribing—by varying the level of resources based
on the degree of influence. For example, companies can experiment with service and tele-reps with lower-volume prescribers,
who otherwise may have minimal or no sales-rep coverage, or support sales-force efforts with high- and intermediate-level
(3) Create real value for physicians
Of course, when it comes down to leveraging influence, companies must invest where the rubber meets the road: their sales
reps. While information on key influences (and direction on how to best communicate with prescribers based on those influences)
will certainly continue to reflect significant corporate input, companies need high-level, exceedingly well-trained sales
reps to analyze and interpret the information, to educate physicians with messages tailored to the changing influences, and
to engage providers in meaningful dialogs. In that spirit, one common element in any model under the share-of-influence sales
approach is a return to creating real value for physicians.
Strong first-line management will provide the foundation for this increased focus on customer value by measuring performance-based
metrics (such as market share) and the value-driven methods to get there, instead of activity-based measures (such as reach,
frequency, and calls per day).
But in order to get there, companies will have to redefine the profile of the field force. The share-of-influence model puts
forth a much more complex world that requires better interpretive and communication skills from sales reps.
Reps in the share-of-influence world don't deliver a consistent standard sales message to everyone. Rather, they work to generate
a discussion with the physician about his or her practice, patients, and prescribing, and about how the product may help better
manage patients. The sell, then, is geared specifically to that physician's practice.
The level and competence of the new "standard" rep will have a higher skill set and stronger relationships with providers
than today's typical mirrored PCP rep. Companies will hire reps with more credentials (for example, former nurses, or pharmacists),
reps with more science and/or medical training (such as ones with Master's degrees in biology, for example), and reps with
significant experience in pharmaceutical sales. Individual profiles may vary, but at minimum, reps must be able to easily
understand and communicate the intricacies of a high-science product, market, and disease state.
To deliver this type of rep, companies must emphasize long-term training and development. While companies now update reps
over time about product and medical information, like changes in labeling and in practice guidelines, the share-of-influence
approach expands that training to help reps better understand the constantly changing influences. This is especially important
in providing value as the Medicare drug benefit goes into effect.
Specialization is a growing trend not only in medicine, but in pharma sales as well. Pharma companies are beginning to use
specialty reps to reach primary-care physicians who perform a specialist role, such as in urban or rural areas that lack specialty