Solvay reorganizes its sales force

April 1, 1997
Pharmaceutical Representative

The company's sales representatives will no longer be responsible for marketing the full range of Solvay Pharmaceuticals products. Instead, representatives will focus solely on one specialty: obstetrics and gynecology, gastroenterology and cystic fibrosis, or psychiatry.

The company's sales representatives will no longer be responsible for marketing the full range of Solvay Pharmaceuticals products. Instead, representatives will focus solely on one specialty: obstetrics and gynecology, gastroenterology and cystic fibrosis, or psychiatry.

"Our rationale for specialization is very simple," said Laurence Downey, M.D., senior vice president of sales and marketing. "The restructuring will better position us for growth within our defined therapeutic areas, enhance our ability to compete with even our largest competitors, increase our depth of knowledge and build relationships within each product area."

The plan was unveiled at the company's national sales meeting in January. In the months preceding the sales meeting, about 60 new sales reps joined the company. By the end of this year, the total number of reps will rise to 378 - up from 322 in 1996.

From sales training to field management, the field reorganization means change from the inside out, according to company officials.

The company's sales trainers are no longer providing new reps with intensive courses in each product area. Instead, training will focus twice as long on sales reps' assigned product group.

That sharp training focus is what Solvay Pharmaceuticals leaders claim will make the company's sales reps top experts in their therapeutic area, leading to greater market share, customer loyalty and satisfaction, according to David Dodd, president and CEO.

"We create loyalty by forming a partnership with our customers, and when that is achieved, mutual trust follows," Dodd said at the national meeting. "Specialization will allow our reps to see customers twice as often...to listen to their needs, to demonstrate genuine interest and to show they care about and value their business."

To handle the surge in new reps and increase the company's strategic focus, the company also revamped its field management positions. As part of the change, regional business managers have become regional business directors and are charged with playing more of a leadership and decision-making role.

"The change in structure will allow me and other regional business directors to focus more on strategic and overall business objectives for the region, rather than a primary emphasis on tactical goals," said Ron Scalf, a regional business director in the Southeast Region.

The change in field management also extends to regional training coordinators, now called regional training managers. For Jim Grayson, a regional training manager from the Rocky Mountain Region, the change represents a new opportunity to work with salespeople to develop ideas to increase market share.

"In the past, regional training coordinators focused more on selling skills," he said. "But now we have the chance to focus on tactical ways to actually drive the business, and that's very exciting."

In late 1994, Solvay Pharmaceuticals regionalized its sales force into 12 business units. Steve Jennings, director of national field sales said,

"Our new field design shows we are flexible, adaptable and able to best meet the needs of our customers." PR