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Jane Y. Chin has a doctorate in biochemistry and experience in sales and medical affairs. She coaches reps to be more scientifically confident in communicating with physicians. For more information on how Chin can help sales teams improve their effectiveness, contact her at email@example.com or through her Web site, www.pharmrepclinic.com.
Working effectively as a team.
Read the vision or mission statement of a pharmaceutical company, or any company for that matter, and you will very likely read about the company's commitment to fostering teamwork. Effective teamwork takes advantage of the unique experiences and talents of individual team members to maximize efforts toward and achievement of a given objective. The word teamwork used to conjure the idea of members of a division of an organization acting as a functional entity to implement a plan. Today, in the flux of mergers, acquisitions and product co-promotions, cross-functional synergy across divisions within and between companies is not just an ideal concept anymore - it will make the difference between long-standing success and deterioration of effort in a company.
The current state of business territory management for many representatives has become one of fluctuating territories, frequent changes or additions in product portfolio and, consequently, changes in customer targets and business objectives. The faces of team members are also changing: Some pharmaceutical companies assign representatives based on patterns of "prescribing density," allocating larger areas per representative. Still, other companies deploy strength in numbers by assigning many representatives per account. Smaller companies, including biotechnology firms, employ small groups of specialty liaisons as representatives for strategically segmented accounts.
Co-promotional agreements be-tween pharmaceutical companies have become common practice in an effort to increase product portfolio and utilize the prominent presence of the partnering company in a particular market segment. Successful co-promotions currently exist for cardiovascular, infectious disease and antidiabetic therapies. Representatives from different companies may be trained in particular operating philosophies, restricted from certain territory accounts or rewarded on specific incentive structures. Therefore, increasing voice-share for a product and accessing different medical specialties in the co-promotional process are only the most basic contributions - coordinating the flow of business information and implementing complementary marketing strategies are critical to the success of any co-promotion. For partnerships to accomplish intended goals, the transition to the newly formed team must be a smooth one. Here are transitional tips that we have found to be effective when initiating a co-promotional relationship.
Agree on a communication protocol: When an introductory team meeting is scheduled, a critical item on the agenda should be a communication protocol. Voicemail across companies may already be linked to facilitate regular communication; otherwise, team members should agree on a protocol to keep each other abreast of weekly progress, challenges, success stories, marketing tips and strategies.
Establish an informal peer-to-peer training session if necessary: New co-promotion team members may not necessarily have the same depth of preparation or training as the product's company. In order to help everyone gain comparable product knowledge and selling expertise, new team members may arrange training ride-alongs; monthly journal clubs or general review sessions will help everyone gain experience using reprints and selling resources.
Coordinate routing and resources: Even in a co-promotional agreement, physician targets and territory alignment may differ between companies. In order to make use of established customer relationships cultivated by members from partnering companies, routing and resources should be allocated during the initial team meeting. Based on the calling requirements and customer profiles of each team member, the team may plan shared or individual lunch programs, dinner programs or preceptorships to optimize selling efforts. As each company has individualized budgets and promotional resources for the co-promotion, district managers should be actively involved in the coordination process.
Set business objectives: Based on the assessment of the state of the territory, the team should establish business objectives for resource allocation and strategy implementation. Thirty days after the initial team meeting, a progress check should be set up to make sure that objectives are being met and that the team is on track toward accomplishing important milestones for the business. New strategies may need to be implemented at this time based on feedback from team members. Team agreements and progress should be copied to district managers of partnering companies.
Harness the expertise of specialty representatives: If specialty representatives are available in the therapeutic area of the co-promotion, the team may arrange informal training sessions or coordinate educational programs with specialty representatives. Specialty representatives often have insight in the long-term and strategic needs of academic or institutional accounts that may influence local physicians. Team members may consider inviting specialty representatives to coordination or progress meetings and copying specialty representatives on voicemail messages.
Regardless of the current state of a business territory, synergy between individuals within a division can optimize individual efforts and chances for meeting business objectives in any given geography. Working together as a team brings more than a nice concept to the table â knowledge and experience of team members are used to full advantage, redundancy in task execution (wasted time and effort) is minimized, insights about the market are shared, and key customer information is channeled for initiative planning. PR