Dear Colleagues!  This is Asrar Qureshi’s Blog Post #780 for Pharma Veterans. Pharma Veterans welcome sharing of knowledge and wisdom by Veterans for the benefit of Community at large. Pharma Veterans Blog is published by Asrar Qureshi on WordPress, the top blog site. Please email to for publishing your contributions here.

Continued from Previous……

SFE Purpose

The sole purpose of SFE is to maximize growth. Period.

SFE Practices

Let me emphasize again, for clarity, that Sales Force Effectiveness is to be measured at the level of each salesperson, if you really wish to have meaningful SFE. It must be built bottom up and should not be generalized to get quick results. It can be challenging due to several factors such as absence of enough data, but the quest must go on.

Secondly, the purpose of SFE is not just monitoring and catching people who are not performing to bring desired results. SFE is for both performers and non-performers, it is to help the organization identify growth opportunities and exploit these to its advantage.

Major SFE practices given below are recommended keeping in view these factors.

  • Fit-for-purpose sales models – Pharma industry has learned over the years that sales can be made using various models. Primary model is the salesperson’s visit to the customers, but then there are several activities that are built upon the basic visit to maximize return. Tools like promotional folders for focused discussions, reminder giveaways, gifts, and a variety of services, are garnishing to the foundation. The purpose of having different sales models is to customize as per need.

Pharma selling has always been personal, customized selling. It had always been specific and on-target, and it was largely carried out by the salesperson himself who was well-trained and knowledgeable to customize talk for every customer. That strength dissipated over time, and more generic measures, read services, replaced the capability. The bargain worked well for several years but is now losing steam. The industry should consider coming back to fit-to-purpose sales models. Reviewing sales processes may be the starting point. Sales enablement tools review is the next, while technology enablement may be the next. Lately, some pharma companies have given tablets to med reps to be used for detailing, rather than the printed brochures. The purpose is to save cost, and maybe to increase interest. However, technology alone will not generate interest, interesting content will.

  • Identification of growth opportunities – will come from target market segmentation, client profiling, and developing appropriate customer value propositions. Looking at the model of how an MNC markets any of its research products can be educative. The product is marketed in the basic targeted indication. As this gets established, more indications are added to continue adding patients. The addition of market segments keeps the interest in the product also alive for longer.
  • Allocation and organization of resources – The next step is to allocate required resources to execute the strategy, and organize these in a way that these remain available as per need. Whenever the word ‘resources’ comes into discussion, the first thought is that of money; this is not correct. Let us see how many resources can be added to the basic working of the medical rep. Providing related information is the first resource, giving a strategy is next, the chain of managers who can go and visit the customer with him is the next, services come in the end. Presently, pharma managers start from services whenever resources are mentioned, which is reversing the process thereby increasing cost of selling while reducing its effectiveness.
  • Exception-free sales management discipline – The process of compromised hiring which started several years ago is now biting the industry, as they say, the chicken have come home to roost. Those guys kept getting up the career ladder and are now sitting at the top positions. Some changed themselves but most have not. To keep their positions safe, they hired more compromised people, and the deterioration came at all levels. The fallout of this phenomenon is backscratching and favoritism, which creates exceptions for selected people. The chain of command must stop this discrimination, adopt uniform reporting and treatment. Performance management systems, when applied properly, can help take out preferential treatment.
  • Analysis of portfolio, market, environment – This is an organization-wide activity which should be done periodically to assess and, if needed, readjust position and priorities. The way product launch decisions are taken leaves much to be desired. Mostly it is because everyone is launching it. The leaders lead and come early, the followers come late and suffer. Portfolio analysis should be done keeping in view the following parameters.
    • Organization strength in therapeutic segments
    • Further space to expand in the segment of strength
    • Organization capability to handle new launches
    • Purpose of launch, more revenue, more profit?
    • Competition landscape, and what can be offered differently
  • Maximize growth and minimize decline – Both are important. It is an extremely competitive time, and competitors are out for the kill. Smaller companies are eroding share of the larger companies through very direct means; nutraceutical companies are encroaching upon the market of pharma companies. If the entire focus is on growth only, there is a risk that some of the gains may be neutralized by the decline in other areas.
  • Building new capabilities in the field force – Training is a sorely missed element in pharma industry. Training is a continuous process which would encompass product and skills both. In fact, skills are even more important and should be constantly built. To motivate people to learn and apply, appropriate rewards and recognition system should be considered.

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.


Leave a Reply