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Continued from Previous……
Pharmaceutical Industry Challenges
Sales force effectiveness is apparently less popular in the pharmaceutical industry, maybe there are some unique challenges and factors that can make it more difficult to implement effectively. Here are some reasons why:
Physician access: Many healthcare providers are increasingly difficult to access, as they are under pressure to see more patients and have less time for sales representatives. This can make it challenging for sales representatives to build relationships with key customers and have productive interactions. This is a serious problem these days also due to the large number of pharmaceutical salespersons in the market. At an important doctor, 10-12 med reps may be seen together, or 20-25 may visit in a day. If the physician started relating, he would spend too much time on it. Intelligent salespersons choose a time which is more convenient for the doctor, take less time, but use this time effectively.
Long sales cycles: The sales cycle in the pharmaceutical industry is typically longer than in other industries, as it may involves multiple stakeholders and decision-makers. This can make it more difficult to measure the effectiveness of sales efforts, as it may take longer to see the results of a particular strategy. This applies to both prescription sales and direct sales. Institutional sales may have a much longer cycle.
Price pressure: The pharmaceutical industry is under pressure to control costs because cost of production and selling have gone very high. This can make it more difficult for sales representatives to differentiate their products and demonstrate value, particularly, in case of generic products.
Products Glut: Too many new generic pharmaceutical products and nutraceutical products are in the market already while more are being introduced every day. For every molecule, there are too many generic formulations on the market. There are no distinctive features, and the physician does not want to spend time to listen about the same product from fifty different people. It affects customer-salesperson relationship negatively.
Regulatory restrictions: The pharmaceutical industry is highly regulated, and sales representatives must comply with strict guidelines regarding what they can say and how they can interact with healthcare professionals. This can limit the ability of sales representatives to engage in certain activities, although our industry has constantly refused to comply with ethical marketing guidelines.
Overall, the challenges in the pharmaceutical industry can make it more difficult to implement traditional sales force effectiveness strategies. However, many pharmaceutical companies are adapting their sales and marketing strategies to address these challenges and are exploring new approaches to engage with healthcare providers and demonstrate the value of their products.
It is important to understand the spirit of SFE so that its components can be customized, rather than knowing the mechanics only.
Sales force effectiveness has undergone several significant changes over time. Here are some of the keyways it has evolved:
- From a focus on product to a focus on customer needs: In the past, salespeople were primarily concerned with selling their products or services, regardless of whether they met the customer’s needs or not. However, as competition has increased and customers have become more informed, salespeople have had to shift their focus to understanding and meeting the needs of their customers.
- From a transactional approach to a relationship-based approach: In the past, salespeople were often focused on closing a sale as quickly as possible. However, as competition has increased, it has become more important for salespeople to develop long-term relationships with customers, rather than just focusing on individual transactions.
- From a one-size-fits-all approach to a more personalized approach: In the past, salespeople often used the same approach with every customer, regardless of their specific needs or preferences. However, with the availability of greater amount of data and other measures, salespeople are now able to gather more information about individual customers and tailor their approach to better meet their needs.
- From a focus on selling to a focus on service: In the past, salespeople were primarily focused on selling their products. However, with the rise of competition, salespeople are now more focused on providing services. ROI based approach is now used frequently.
Overall, sales force effectiveness has evolved to become more customer-focused, relationship-based, personalized, and service-oriented. These changes have been driven by a combination of increased competition, changes in technology, and changes in customer behavior and expectations.
Sales Force Effectiveness (SFE) programs are particularly relevant and widely used in the pharmaceutical industry internationally. This is because the pharmaceutical industry relies heavily on sales representatives to promote and sell their products to healthcare professionals, and the success of these sales efforts has a direct impact on a company’s bottom line.
Internationally, many consulting firms and training organizations offer SFE programs specifically tailored to the pharmaceutical industry. These programs focus on developing the skills and competencies required for successful selling in the industry, such as product knowledge, communication skills, and the ability to build and maintain relationships with key stakeholders.
Some pharmaceutical companies have their own internal SFE programs and training initiatives, which are designed to provide ongoing development and support to their sales teams. These programs typically include a combination of classroom-based training, on-the-job coaching, and performance management systems to help sales reps improve their effectiveness and achieve their sales targets.
There are several sales force effectiveness software options specifically designed for the pharmaceutical industry. These software solutions can help pharmaceutical companies to improve the effectiveness of their sales teams, optimize their sales processes, and better manage their customer relationships. Here are some examples of sales force effectiveness software that are popular in the pharmaceutical industry internationally. These are not being used in Pakistan yet, as far as I know.
Veeva CRM: Veeva CRM is a cloud-based customer relationship management platform specifically designed for the life sciences industry. It provides sales representatives with tools to manage their customer interactions, track sales performance, and optimize their sales strategies.
Salesforce Health Cloud: Salesforce Health Cloud is a customer relationship management platform that is tailored to the needs of healthcare organizations, including pharmaceutical companies. It provides sales representatives with tools to manage customer relationships, collaborate with other members of their team, and track their performance.
ZS Associates: ZS Associates is a consulting firm that provides a range of sales force effectiveness solutions for the pharmaceutical industry, including sales force sizing and structure, sales force alignment, incentive compensation, and sales force automation.
Qstream: Qstream is a mobile sales performance platform that uses gamification and microlearning to help sales representatives improve their knowledge and skills. It is used by several pharmaceutical companies to train and motivate their sales teams.
In Pakistan, three such softwares are offered and used.
IQVIA – offers a product for daily sales monitoring, brick-wise sales, and sales force optimization.
ICON: is an older software providing daily sales data, calls data and multiple reports based on these.
MRep: is a newer version doing the same; sales data, calls data, and reports are customer coverage etc.
The locally available softwares are quite useful and can be customized for specific needs. These are just a few examples of the many sales force effectiveness software solutions that are available for the pharmaceutical industry. Each solution has its own unique features and benefits, and companies should carefully evaluate their options to find the one that best meets their needs.
I would conclude by emphasizing that Sales Force Effectiveness is a powerful tool, and helps to grow sales and people predictably, if it is applied in all aspects.
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