Sewing Up New Sales - Pharmaceutical Executive

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Sewing Up New Sales
Simple, elegant lines are the backbone of any good design—including a new sales model. Get that right, and your model can be tailored to fit any customer.


Pharmaceutical Executive


The physician-interaction model for each company should be optimized for a given product and customer mix. Small-scale pilots, run before a national rollout, should test and refine key implementation and sequencing considerations, such as segmenting customers based on interaction needs, building the lean backbone and necessary skills for high-touch overlays and tailored messages.

Recent technological advances make it possible to measure prescriber behaviors in real time. Traditional measures, such as TRx/NRx (total vs. new prescriptions), can now be combined with "point-of-prescribing" data and physician feedback on detail execution. Metrics include office access relative to competitors, message believability, visual-aid usage, and intent to prescribe. These measures can help control "external" influences, including geographical differences in managed care status, and inform adjustments to the prescriber-interaction model.

Next Generation Sales Metrics


Keeping Track
Pharma's next generation of sales and marketing will rely on techniques pioneered by consumer packaged-goods companies. By gathering metrics at the point of promotion and prescribing, pharma can improve its commercial efforts. Some companies already obtain regular physician feedback on detail execution and rep quality, to determine what truly influences physician brand choice. The new metrics allow companies to adjust brand messages and detailing strategies based on precise, timely feedback from targeted physicians.

Mobile hand-held technology has changed the game. Using hand-held data-collection tools supplied by pharma, physicians can report on all promotional activity. By equipping physicians with PDAs or smart phones, pharma companies can economically track a significantly greater percentage of sales-rep office visits—and measure the impact on physician behavior in real time, including office-based (written) prescription sales.

Sales-force performance models based on rep-reported data are missing a key ingredient for analysis: the role played by competitive details in changing physician behavior. Data collected from physician customers via an "always-on" PDA system provides sales managers with feedback they can confidently compare with industry and competitive benchmarks.

For years, sales force performance was measured by comparing performance of one company with another—often on an annual basis. The most sophisticated sales teams are now using detail execution and sales rep quality metrics to:

  • Compare monthly or quarterly performance of regions over time with national averages
  • Benchmark regions against competitors, not just other company regions or national averages
  • Break down sales performance by company brand, to account for important differences across therapeutic classes
  • Modify incentive compensation for regional managers to incorporate customer feedback.

Integrating metrics across promotional channels can allow a company to optimize the marketing mix. When using lean backbone and high-touch overlays, companies must measure not only the ROI of each promotional channel, but also the interaction between channels.

For example, instead of measuring the ROI of e-detailing alone, the new metrics can allow a company to understand how e-detailing might change the impact of other activities, such as sales-force detailing. Best-in-class firms will customize integrated metrics for each physician segment so that they can optimize the marketing mix at the segment level.

Sales and brand managers should pay special attention to the share of patients who are newly diagnosed and switching for the first time ("written Rx"), since this is the "dynamic" market segment most subject to promotion. Written Rx is the purest measure of promotional effectiveness, since it occurs before formularies and patient behaviors erode the number of prescriptions. Comparing written Rx with pharmacy-dispensed Rx (NRx) can reveal how much "leakage" is occurring outside the doctor's office.

Focusing on a brand's share of the dynamic market quickly generates the feedback needed to adjust tactics in a fast-paced marketplace. Using the new written Rx as the dependent variable enables teams to identify what's working and what's not, including:

  • Detail and patient characteristics, and sales-rep attributes, that drive increased market share for specific brands
  • Impact of messages delivered by sales reps about the markets of a brand and its competitors
  • Correlation of rep activity and ratings with adoption patterns for new products and indications.


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