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Sales Force Effectiveness – SFE – gained popularity worldwide about three decades ago. However, in Pakistan, it has come less than a decade ago. It is still practiced by few pharma companies, and that also with varying degrees of proficiency.

I wrote a concept paper on SFE for the CEO in 2014. It was titled ‘Sales Force Effectiveness – Concept and Application’. When I read it now, it is still valid by and large. I may take few portions from there for this blog series but shall not reproduce it entirely. It is because more development has taken place and updating is desired.

I shall take the readers through various aspects of SFE, with particular focus on pharma, though the discussion may widen to other industries also. It will take several blog posts which I can compile later to form a booklet which will become a handy resource for those thinking of implementing it.

Definition and Concept of SFE

Sales force effectiveness refers to the ability of a company’s sales team to achieve their sales targets and objectives. It is a measure of how well the sales team performs in terms of generating revenue and profits for the company.

There are several factors that can be used to describe sales force effectiveness, including:

Sales volume: The total amount of sales generated by the sales team over a specific period of time.

Customer satisfaction: The degree to which customers are satisfied with the sales process and the product or service being sold.

Sales growth: The rate at which sales are increasing over time.

Customer retention: The ability to retain existing customers and generate repeat business.

Sales cycle length: The time it takes for a salesperson to close a deal from initial contact to final sale.

Sales conversion rate: The percentage of leads or prospects that convert into customers.

Sales pipeline: The number of potential customers in the sales pipeline and the likelihood of closing those deals.

Sales team productivity: The efficiency of the sales team in terms of the number of sales made per salesperson.

Sales Force Effectiveness (SFE) also refers to the extent to which a sales team is able to achieve its goals and objectives in terms of generating revenue and profits for the organization. It encompasses a range of activities and strategies that aim to optimize the performance of the sales team, such as recruiting and training sales personnel, defining sales processes and workflows, setting performance metrics and targets, providing sales tools and resources, and incentivizing and motivating salespeople.

SFE is not just measuring sales; it is a combination of strategy and tools to maximize sales force results. This is still a relatively narrow perspective where the primary focus is ‘Sales Force’. Better training, improved work planning and quality in-clinic performance is mainstay in this model. Monitoring Metrics will include doctors’ coverage, frequency of coverage and relating it to sales output.

SFE, more broadly, is the process of building a ‘Sales Model’ through portfolio alignment, marketing strategies, segment development, customer feedback, structural changes, and reviewed processes. Monitoring Metrics include financial and activity measures.

Overall, sales force effectiveness can be described as the ability of a sales team to meet or exceed their sales targets and objectives, while maintaining high levels of customer satisfaction and retention.

Need and Importance

Traditional sales model developed over last two decades was built on the premise that having a new/first generic/ high priced generic gave enough power to achieve peak sales performance which could then be sustained through a heavy detailing field force. This market scenario has changed.

DRAP is now a barrier as opposed to being a facilitator in the past; KOLs are asserting their opinions; cost of launching a new product and achieving a decent market share has increased manifold. New blockbuster drugs had been major growth drivers in the last about two decades both for the innovators and early generics not waiting for the patent expiry. Presently, the blockbusters are hard to come by and the IP situation is highly unfavorable for generics of still-in-patent drugs.

Cost of selling has gone up considerably. Field force cost is huge; providing input materials is also a heavy cost; and KOLs and high volume business producers have become highly demanding. The cost further escalates due to high field force turnover as time and money are wasted in selection, recruitment, orientation and training.

Therapeutic segments development and business spread along these have changed hugely. Chronic/managed care, hepatology, nephrology, oncology, nutrition/well-being has grown much faster than several other traditionally large segments.

These and some more factors demand that new sales model, new marketing tactics and new monitoring metrics be developed to remain competitive and keep growing.

SFE is a critical aspect of any sales organization as it can have a significant impact on the bottom line. By improving the effectiveness of the sales team, an organization can increase its revenue, market share, and customer loyalty. Therefore, companies should invest heavily in developing and implementing SFE strategies that can help them stay competitive in today’s highly dynamic and rapidly evolving marketplace.

Pharmaceutical selling, like several other industries, is personal selling. A salesperson interacts one-on-one with the customer to generate sales. Pharmaceutical sales is also collected through hundreds of small sales to reach a certain volume.

Sales Force Effectiveness, therefore, becomes all the more important in the context of pharma business.

Some major challenges facing pharma industry are as follows.

  • Keeping pace with fast changing market dynamics
  • Evolving new sales models around physician access and expectations
  • Developing physicians’ trust around all aspects of business
  • Creating alignment across all departments during critical product launch phase
  • Need for on-the-fly performance analysis
  • Enabling sales force effectiveness while complying with ever increasing regulations

To be Concluded……

Disclaimer: Most pictures in these blogs are taken from Google Images and Pexels. Credit is given where known; some do not show copyright ownership. However, if a claim is lodged at any stage, we shall either mention the ownership clearly, or remove the picture with suitable regrets.

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