Nowhere is the effect of Speed of Change more visible than in pharma's sales and marketing model. Despite the (ongoing) downsizing of sales forces, the (slow) shift in marketing budgets to digital channels, and the (fitful) expansion of managed care marketing initiatives, the industry has still not fully awakened to the severity of the threat. What is required now is not simply a pruning—no matter how severe—of the existing organizational structure, nor the transplanting of resources to new soil; what is required is no less than a new model for pharma sales and marketing. A model that turns the threat inside out.
Portalsaurs and Mixed-up Marketing
I'll try to convince you of this with a few illustrations of chronic and debilitating sales and marketing misjudgments in the realms of both professional and consumer marketing.Over the last 10 years, as we saw the twin tectonic shifts of restricted rep access and the growth of the Internet to near ubiquity, nearly every major pharma company responded in the same way: they built portals for doctors. Pfizer did it, GSK did it, Lilly did it. In fact, it's much quicker to name the top 20 pharma companies that didn't do it because ... there are none!
Betting that doctors would wake up in the morning wanting to go to a pharma HCP portal, the companies could perhaps be initially excused because they lacked digital knowledge and experience. But the proof that doctors did not in fact wake up pining for portals quickly became incontrovertible. According to a well-known Manhattan Research study ("ePharma Physician V9," 2009), the average number of visits by doctors to HCP portals was three to five—per year. And getting even this low level of activity was only accomplished with costly physician recruiting, and without much discernible script left.