Remodeling Your Sales Force - Pharmaceutical Executive

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Remodeling Your Sales Force
Transitioning to a decentralized sales force requires new metrics and standards of reporting, as well as sales managers ready to step up and take charge

Pharmaceutical Executive


Metrics and Reporting

Clear, objective metrics that measure reps and managers are important for a successful decentralized sales force. Today, many companies produce a scorecard that typically reveals no clear information about performance. A scorecard with the following elements will be simple and consistent across the entire sales organization, allowing a VP of sales and his or her managers to be measured the same.

Revenue Goal Focused: Every metric on the scorecard should be tied to the company's revenue goals and its product strategy. For example, if senior leadership believes that Product A is a growth product, and its target audience should be neurologists, then it can set a goal to attain at least 20 percent share among neurologists this year. In this case, the only metric that should show up for Product A should be the YTD neurologists' share.

Clarity: The goal-oriented focus described above removes the need to have the historical comparisons that one finds in abundance today. Change or growth measurements benchmarked to the previous year or the prior quarter are only relevant for the metric we wish to measure.

Stability: The chosen metrics have to stabilize over the performance period. Stability is a function of the metric as well as the time period over which it is measured. Share metrics are always better as they are less volatile than volume, and remove the effect of market growth. Further, reporting for the entire performance period in aggregate mutes the weekly or monthly variations. Most variations are random noise that obfuscate the underlying performance, thus reporting weekly share or volume changes is futile.

What's Wrong

Given the variation in the business environment, questions asked will take different forms based on position and geography. What's going wrong at the national sales level will reveal national trends and issues—identifying weak regions (for example) and potentially identifying weak teams and managers, poorly performing promotions, and/or competitors' strengths. On the other hand, what's going wrong at the sales manager level might reveal specific physicians or hospitals that are changing their behavior. Different levels of field management yield different questions, and each individual's interests are based on the resources they can influence. A sales vice president has no reason to know which physician is dropping share. This information would be more relevant for a newly empowered "CEO" district manager.

The questions will also be different for managers in different areas. A certain product could be doing well in the Southeast, but dropping share in the Great Lakes region due to demographic or business reasons. Under these circumstances, an ineffective dashboard would distribute the same reports to all these managers. A more appropriate reporting would provide pertinent business information for the different levels of field managers, and let them answer their own business questions in a controlled framework. But this requires considerable thought. Ultimately, these frameworks should be simple, flexible, and intuitive, allowing managers to make decisions. Moreover, a number of new technologies can help implement such frameworks.

In particular, next generation business intelligence—with its ease of use and end-user orientation—and Web 2.0 technologies make it possible to go from vision to implementation in time frames unimaginable only a few years ago.

Transition Time

Changing the status quo is a challenge. The success of a decentralized sales force will hinge in large part on the quality of its field managers. Budget responsibilities of field managers should be expanded, and the critical support roles like HR, training, and compliance should be regionalized to support this model. Other areas like analytics and reporting groups can be redeployed or outsourced. With these changes, one should stay true to the spirit of giving field managers what they need to succeed in their business, and nothing more.

Greater responsibility delegated to field managers and simplifying performance measurement can result in better leaders, as well as a leaner, more sustainable, and more effective sales establishment. To make it happen, the next generation of sales managers and sales representatives need to be equipped with actionable information about their business; and that information needs to be delivered in a way that is clear, stable, and empowering. When each individual of an organization combines what they know about their territory with key sales performance data, then that organization not only achieves real competitive advantage but also success.

Christian Marcazzo is the senior director, Industry Solutions Life Sciences for TIBCO Spotfire. He can be reached at


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