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A Bad Deal with Data?


Pharmaceutical Executive

Pharmaceutical ExecutivePharmaceutical Executive-03-01-2020
Volume 40
Issue 3

Approach for pharma field sales reps in need of reboot.

Approach for pharma field sales reps in need of reboot


Recent research from Ernst & Young tells us that “81% of organizations think that data should be at the heart of every business decision.” Yet, the report adds, most companies still fall short when it comes to integrating data into their employees’ daily workflow. Most of the field sales reps I know would agree. Data-driven organizations tend to provide employees with access to all of the information available in their technology and data ecosystems. Rather than receiving the welcoming user experience they want, employees spend hours sifting through screens to surface needed data. While the value of data analytics is well established, and the investment in business intelligence tools is significant, reps are still reverting to the way they managed their territory in the past. It’s time to listen to what our reps really need in order to effectively use data.

System overload

Many organizations maintain separate web portals for all the data that comprises the pharma field sales daily workflow-call activity, Rx activity, managed care status, omnichannel activity, etc.-along with separate portals for human resources, finance, and other key areas. Information within these portals is often conflicting or dated. As all this data is siloed in multiple back-end systems, the information is neither shared nor easily accessible in a single screen, which can significantly impede field workflow. Here’s why: 

No single source of truth. Reps must access multiple systems in addition to their CRM to understand their territory performance. Some data is accessed via real-time feeds; other sources are snapshots in time. This causes further inconsistencies, making it difficult to gauge performance relative to competitors.

  • Mediocre mobile rollouts. Highly anticipated mobile rollouts usually fall short. Companies focus on the excitement of the technology rather than understanding the user workflow.

  • Intelligence on next-best action suggestions is buried. Access to omnichannel activity at the rep level is finally being surfaced and shared but requires too much manual searching and is not readily available for reps to act quickly on data-driven suggestions.

  • Lack of preparation for calls. With so much time spent wrestling with data, reps are often unprepared for their calls and cannot make accurate on-the-fly adjustments.

  • Coaching data is insufficient. Coaching reports are often a “check-the-box” exercise rather than a true coaching tool.

Tips to improve rep workflow 

Understand the typical field sales workday. New channels of communication with HCPs require the use of new digital technologies to analyze behaviors and integrate product messaging into relevant stages of the sales process. More than ever, other parts of the organization need to understand the workflow of field sales reps to provide them with the data they need to initiate and sustain meaningful interactions with HCPs.

Take a business-first approach. Before deciding on which field data problems to address, stakeholders need to identify which business problems they are trying to solve.

Make reporting systems more accessible. Encourage IT/Ops managers to turn off the levers, slim down the data, and provide the insights users really need, rather than burying them in volumes of information or making them bounce between different systems.

Integrate HCP omnichannel insights with workflow tools. Sales and marketing teams need fingertip access to both online and offline behavior of HCPs, integrated into their daily workflow. Omnichannel activity is quickly becoming the go-to data source for assessing customer preferences, increasing engagement, and deciding next-best actions.

Work with vendors to improve user experience. Ideally, the data, tools, and technologies that make up your ecosystem talk to each other. CRM partners might not have all the answers, but they may be able to integrate data from other systems and offer a level of customization. Alternatively, complete custom solutions can be developed to seamlessly combine data from CRMs and other systems.

While life sciences companies have always relied on data, today we have a lot more of it. As we look to building the sales teams of the future, staying competitive means unlocking the data silos and making the right data readily available to end users where and when they need it.


Sandy Jennings is Managing Director, Life Sciences, at Lextech Global Services

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