Estamos en una nueva era en cuanto a la organización de las fuerzas de ventas en la Industria Farmacéutica se refiere. Es un momento en el que se busca la máxima rentabilidad tanto en el mercado europeo como americano. Tan sólo en Estados Unidos más de 20.000 vendedores han sido despedidos en los últimos años y para el resto de vendedores, los laboratorios farmacéuticos están buscando cómo sacar mayor rentabilidad a sus fuerzas de ventas. Esto mismo está pasando en el Mercado Europeo; se busca una mayor eficiencia comercial y se están reduciendo el número de visitadores médicos. El objetivo que se busca es doble: mejorar la rentabilidad, y ajustarse a la nueva realidad del negocio. En este nuevo Modelo de Negocio en el que vaticina una muerte del tradicional modelo de venta, el vendedor seguirá siendo clave en el marketing directo al prescriptor. Cuando este canal de venta se utiliza correctamente, los resultados se ven impulsados, pero si no se realiza un correcto seguimiento se producen gastos excesivos.
La perspectiva tratada en este artículo es que el Nuevo Modelo de Negocio farmacéutico no se basa sólo en una reducción del número de vendedores, sino también en entender qué role desempeñan los visitadores médicos en el Modelo de Negocio de su laboratorio. Es muy importante tener también en cuenta que la “calidad del targeting” es fundamental en un entorno donde las interacciones con los médicos son cada vez más difíciles.
En resumen, seguirá existiendo un papel para el representante de ventas, pero maximizando su productividad, la cual requiere de una visión más clara, una mayor flexibilidad y una mayor variedad de roles. El futuro se verá muy diferente de los ejércitos de vendedores de ventas del pasado que visitaban a los clientes de forma masiva.
Was 2005 really just a few years ago? It seems like a different era as far as pharma sales organizations are concerned. Squeezing costs as much as possible, U.S. pharma leaders have shed more than 20,000 field sales positions—and are looking for additional ways of getting more from their remaining field corps. European companies also have made cuts albeit at a slower rate. The twin objectives were to improve productivity and adjust to the new reality of the pharma business—which many presumed to include the death of the traditional representative detailing model.
Yet, for a model that is supposed to be dead, direct marketing to prescribers remains a vital tool. When used correctly, it continues to drive sales; used without proper strategic oversight, however, it
leads to costly overspending and missed sales targets. Indeed, our perspective on the past five years is that leaders that used field reductions to actually rethink the commercial model —rather than taking a “blunt instrument” approach to cuts— are reaping rewards. They’re investing in highest potential prescribers and ruthlessly scaling back interactions where the odds are poor. These are among the key lessons learned that we describe in this bulletin.
Cutting and culling
Calculating a “factored” value for physicians is more accurately predictive of prescribing potential. By contrast, companies that cut evenly across the board, or allocated resources solely on historic prescribing volume, saw measurable declines in sales and profit
Pharma commercial leaders in the US and Europe tried several approaches to maintain customer contact as they cut field resources. For many, the first step was to address “mirrors”, i.e., multiple representatives overlapping on the same set of local customers. Some aimed to eliminate overlap by developing “micro-territories”, in which one rep became the single point of contact for all products. This sometimes resulted in large bag sizes and was most effective when incentives were structured so reps did not shortchange the smallest products. Other companies organized around customer types. Multiple field members represented the same products in a geography, but with different roles. For example, some reps specialized in high-value customers. Other companies sought to merge the best of mirrored and single-accountability models, by varying the level of mirroring depending upon local conditions. This required more sophisticated support operations and increased both reporting and managerial complexity. Still, these approaches were all mere step changes over traditional nationwide mirrors. However, much more fundamental change went a step further. Downsizing could also be seen as an opportunity to question reliance on a fundamental input for field force allocation —past prescribing behavior.
This, in turn led to a more comprehensive and sophisticated view of the physician— a “factored” measure of volume that takes into account additional considerations, including a physician‘s managed care environment, attitudinal segmentation (e.g., “early adopter”, “generics general”), office access, and more. The new model matched field resource levels to this factored value, and as a result, maintained or grew volume, even with reduced headcount. Calculating a “factored” value for physicians is more accurately predictive of prescribing potential. By contrast, companies that cut evenly across the board, or allocated resources solely on historic prescribing volume, saw measurable declines in sales and profit.
Old and new ways of getting more from less
Pavlov was right—humans learn to respond to incentives. To that end, we believe that personal promotion will remain a powerful tool for revenue and profit maximization, and downsizings will reach a natural floor as best practices spread. Specifically, we have learned that traditional representatives who were assigned a tightly focused list of highestpotential physicians generated better growth than reps who were geographically deployed across the whole territory. At the same time, there is still room for adaptability— companies that significantly reduced field strength in highly payer-controlled markets, or de-emphasized highlycontrolled physicians, did not lose share. We also see that content is crucial to successful deployment: Companies must craft their message to resonate with the specific type of prescriber. For example, showing a group of P4P (pay for performance) doctors how particular products can help meet their performance goals can yield better results in TRx volume than more generic, tradicional messaging. Using this approach, teams that specialized in large group practices (a customer channel we’ll return to later in this compendium) gained share where the traditional field had stagnated.
How to work harder and smarter
How to make sure these lessons are put in practice with field reps who are already juggling constantly evolving customers? Executing against a short list of mindset and tactical changes has been helpful for leading companies.
1. First, retire the idea of using a single field deployment model for the whole country and for every type of customer. Companies need a set of sales approaches that are tailored to the target environment. Also, use several measures in addition to volume to gauge physician value. Successful companies have factored in the region’s standing on a payer influence index, for example, in order to better customize field sizing, footprint and field roles in a geography.
2. Second, get comfortable making decisions in uncertainty. As the industry updates the commercial model, innovators will need to size the field based upon the (uncertain) potential of new approaches. Typical industry sizing and deployment analysis is built on backward looking, nationwide physician data, which measures responsiveness to traditional reps. Continued reliance on this analysis would be misplaced for determining the value of deploying a different type of field resource to a subset of physicians. Innovators must experiment, learn and rapidly adapt.
3. Third, stop investing in losing propositions. Deploying incremental representative resources until the point of zero marginal returns rarely makes economic sense because below a certain level of return, an in-person representative is unlikely to be your best investment to drive the next NRx with a given physician. In such a case, you must have another type of outreach handy.
4. Accordingly, companies will need to develop a full toolkit of personal and non-personal interactions from which to choose. Build an arsenal of personal promotional levers including field-based promotional medical, sample droppers, patient educators, etc. In addition, consider ramping up non-personal promotions: outbound tele-details, emails, and even “snail-mail.” Pharma companies will need to experiment with deploying a mix of resources—even on the same physician— to get optimal sales results at the acceptable return on investment.
- In summary, our perspective is that there will remain a role for the sales rep, but maximizing rep productivity requires more insight, more flexibility and more variety in roles.
- The future will look far different from the sales rep armies of the past descending on offices.
Laura Moran, Associate Principal in the New Jersey office and leader of the Sales Sub-Practice in
Pharmaceutical and Medical Products in the Americas in McKinsey
David Quigley, Director in the New York office and leader of the Americas Pharmaceutical and
Medical Products Practice as well as the Commercial Sub-Practice in McKinsey