Pharma companies spend billions of dollars hiring the right talent and training their sales reps. It’s no wonder companies are looking for ways of improving sales force effectiveness. There are entire departments dedicated to sales force effectiveness. Tons of tools available in the market that sell the dream of a highly effective sales team. This blog explores 5 practical strategies you can use to increase your sales force effectiveness. But first let’s look at the language and concepts around sales force effectiveness.

What is Sales Force Effectiveness?

Pharma sales teams today work in a fiercely competitive and evolving salesscape. The only differentiator is how effective sales teams can be. Pharma companies have dedicated Sales Force Effectiveness (SFE) teams that map and improve sales force effectiveness. They work with the primary objective of managing teams and providing them with the tools to be productive. These SFE teams track the performance of sales reps. Furthermore, they define strategies to ensure reps spend their time doing the things that matter to their customers and add to their organization’s bottom line.

What are some Pharma Sales Force Effectiveness Metrics

That’s why measuring sales force effectiveness has evolved over the past few years from basic metrics like revenue, prescription, HCP interactions etc. These days more and more teams look at advanced metrics as well. Some of the basic metrics can be broadly categorised as –

Lead Metrics

Simply put, these metrics measure the effort that your sales reps put into achieving their quotas. Here are three examples of lead metrics that have evolved to measure Sales Rep productivity.

  1. Call Averages – Earlier, “call average” or the number of times a rep met a doctor was the single most important lead metric for reps. Today pharma sales force effectiveness metrics include other aspects of a doctor visit – like the frequency of meeting with A-class doctors or the percentage of A-class doctors being missed out. These metrics give a more accurate picture of the depth of rep engagement with HCPs and A-class doctors.

  2. RCPA Compliance – Another example of lead metrics is RCPA compliance (Retail Chemist Prescription Audit). This gauges sales performance at a chemist level or how an HCP responds to rep interactions through prescriptions. These metrics typically get triangulated from the retail audits, which are done at an industry-wide level.

  3. In Chamber productivity – One critical pharma sales force effectiveness metric today measures the effectiveness of targeted communication to HCPs.  This is worked out by how much time reps spend detailing focus brands in a doctor’s chamber. More the time spent, the better it is.

Lag metrics

This brings us to lag metrics – outcomes that reps achieve through their activities. Or simply put, the results of the efforts sales reps put in. Some examples of outcome KPIs include Prescriber base (or how many HCPS actually prescribe your products), No. of prescriptions generated (or Rx), Wallet share of prescribing HCPs/doctor etc. 

Typically Lag metrics are closely related to the quality of effort that goes into the process by reps. E.g. higher HCP interactions lead to higher prescriber base while increased detailing time leads to a higher no. of prescriptions generated.

The best pharma SFE teams focus on helping reps build repeatable habits around their lead metrics. Thereby leading to improved outcomes that can be sustained.

Why Sales Force Effectiveness teams are Important for Pharma Companies

Sales force effectiveness teams are crucial because organizations that don’t closely track lead metrics, often find their revenue numbers are neither sustainable nor predictable.

First, pharma sales force effectiveness teams provide sales leaders with insights to spot and repair the gaps between strategy and execution.

Second, the only way to suceed in a competitive market is to measure what you do and attribute that measurement to an outcome.

Sales leaders always know the “how much” question (i.e. how much sales have happened). But most don’t know the “why did we achieve so much” question. Stated otherwise, why did sales overachieve by 15% or underachieve by 10%? This question can be answered only by effective SFE teams.

5 Strategies to increase pharma sales force effectiveness

5 Ways to Increase Sales Force Effectiveness

1. Align organization priorities with clear metrics

Effective sales managers ensure that their teams metrics align with the most important objectives of the pharmaceutical company. So if a Focus Brand sales is the priority, then the Lead metrics around that brand should be available to sales managers every day/week/month of that quarter.

2. Keep reps consistent and focussed through data

Sales reps struggle with Cognitive Overload. This happens when too many KPIs are being measured, making reps feel overwhelmed. Inevitably this causes them to default to doing the easiest action and, usually, not the right one. Highlighting focus KPIs helps reps focus their efforts in the right direction and yields results. Frequent reminders help reps get back on track and maintain their efforts and align them with the teams’ goals.

3. Help reps develop habits on key sales processes

Habit loops consist of a cue, a routine and a reward. In order to develop a repeatable habit you need all the 3 elements. Sales leaders who incorporate all three into the sales reps tasks build effective sales reps. Behavior science tools (like worxogo’s Nudge coach) can help sales leaders build high-performing behaviors in their team. 

4. Inform and Enable Sales managers for real time course correction

Sales managers should have a bird’s eye view on each reps individual performance so that they can provide frequent and timely feedback to their reps. Timely and regular appreciation helps teams remain motivated and improves productivity. Similarly timely guidance can help a lagging sales rep get back on track. 

5. Focus managers' attention on average performers

Sales managers mostly focus attention on their best and least effective sales reps. However, the middle of the bell curve – the average performers make up almost 60% of the team. These reps rarely get the attention they deserve. However, they are also most likely to succeed if they get timely and consistent attention, feedback and appreciation. This pharma sales team improved sales by 20% just through focussed manager attention on middle performers.

worxogo’s Nudge Coach helps sales leaders build engaged motivated sales teams. Managers get an accurate picture of individual sales reps behaviors and helps them appreciate or guide their reps in just 2 clicks. The nudge coach provides sales team with personalized insights and nudges to build the behaviours needed to improve consistently. Here’s how a leading pharma company improved sales by 18% using worxogo’s Nudge coach.

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