Sales Management: Spending Under Scrutiny - Pharmaceutical Executive

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Sales Management: Spending Under Scrutiny
State compliance mandates are forcing pharma to better manage its sales spend.


Pharmaceutical Executive



Jeff Brady
Pharma companies need to better manage their marketing and sales spend directed at healthcare professionals. Five states have already mandated that drug companies track, control, and report this data, and many more states have legislation pending with distinct requirements. These new reporting mandates will hold companies accountable for documenting their interactions with healthcare professionals. Companies that don't track this data will see the repercussions—from fines of up to $10,000 or injunctions on their products. While companies should start to change their methods of reporting, many are ill prepared for state-by-state compliance mandates. This article discusses how pharmaceutical companies can address these laws by collecting better and cleaner data from their reps.

Streamline Data Collection

Many companies think they have a data collection process. But an old process may not stand up to the new compliance challenge of documenting every interaction with a doctor in an accurate, complete, and timely way. Companies will stumble upon some challenges along the way. The task of integrating data from a large number of internal and external sources, and merging it into a single version of the "truth," can be especially daunting.

While most companies know how to conduct at least basic customer relationship management (CRM), this requires an unprecedented level of information sharing across the enterprise. This, of course, is not something the typical pharmaceutical company—throughout its many therapeutic areas and other silos—is designed to accommodate. Given the high volume of interactions, companies must work toward achieving a fully integrated system that collects data across the entire enterprise.

The primary source of this data comes from sales reps and other field-based personnel. Reps have daily interactions with doctors, and as a result, play a key role in meeting compliance requirements. Today, reps use multiple methods to input information, such as supplier Web sites and T&E systems, to meet these requirements. This can cause confusion, inefficiencies, and delays, which can lead to noncompliance.

Monitor Rep Activity

Some companies have found a way to make complete reporting and documenting a standard procedure for their sales forces. They have implemented software-based systems that enable reps to document all of their interactions, and gives sales managers the ability to oversee reps' activities. The software enables data exchanges from existing systems to a centralized repository, allowing companies to gain a complete picture of its interactions with healthcare professionals. The repository can do more than just gather and hold data—it can control, deploy, and manage all healthcare professional interactions. The system can use the collected data to determine which doctors are eligible to participate in company-sponsored activities or events, based on compliance or other business rules.

To truly embrace a culture of compliance, companies need to continuously monitor all interactions. Some-times reps exceed the specific spending requirements without knowing it. A system that enables sales managers to oversee reps' activities can help companies determine if state limits on promotional healthcare spending have been exceeded.

Customizable technology can also be programmed to set alerts and warn sales reps and other field-based personnel when they are nearing pre-determined company limits. In this case, companies can limit use, notify supervisors, or require approval to interact with a particular healthcare professional. Companies can also require reps to pre-register more of their activities to ensure compliance or enforce stricter reporting procedures and consequences for failing to comply.

Sales managers should also remind reps that they are accountable for their actions. Reps should report attendance, provide receipts, and record every interaction with healthcare professionals. Additionally, they must avoid delays in reporting their data. Companies must either demand improved data reporting from their reps, or investigate alternative methods to ensure the immediate gathering of this information.

Secure More Reliable Data

Often, change is difficult to bring about. Reps may be hesitant to adopt a new system. Therefore, companies must sell the benefits of a new system to reps. They should present the benefits of documenting their interactions in this new framework for compliance.

With a more organized, efficient system, pharmaceutical reps can better manage speaker programs and discretionary activities, such as non-speaker programs and lunch meetings. In addition, they can better plan activities if they know who the eligible speakers are and which venues are allowed.


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