Pharma sales has changed significantly in the past decades and has only accelerated over the past two years. With increased competition and changing regulations, connecting with doctors / HCPs and getting enough detailing time with them remains more challenging than ever. Contrary to popular perception, pharma sales representatives were some of the hardest hit during Covid. With doctors stretched to deliver care to their patients, meeting pharma sales representatives became a safety challenge as field sales reps were constantly in and out of hospitals. Post-Covid, the challenges of shrinking HCP detailing time remain as sales teams continue with hybrid ways of working.

So how do Pharma sales leaders continue improving sales productivity when the traditional way of selling changed? Clearly what used to work does not work anymore. 

What Challenges Do Pharma Sales Face Today?

Pharma sales leaders face three significant challenges, as the Ex CEO of Eli Lilly India explains so clearly.

First is of sales rep attrition. How can sales leaders keep existing sales representatives engaged and motivated.

Second is the ability of managers to keep their focus on improving sales productivity even as span of control of managers is falling.

Third is helping sales reps adopt digital behaviors and tools and use them effectively. There are a ton of new tools that have revolutionized the way pharma reps work- from customer relationship management CRM tools or analytics solutions like Salesforce, Veeva. But the problem of how to ensure sales reps use these tools remains a challenge the sales force effectiveness.

Digital tool adoption to improve pharma sales rep productivity

The common underlying theme across these three challenges is the sales rep. Ensuring that each Rep remains engaged, motivated and productive remains the central challenge that companies need to address.

What is Pharma Sales Rep Productivity?

Before we look at how leading companies are improving sales productivity, let’s review the definition of sales productivity. The basics of sales productivity remain constant – meet your customers, educate them about your product features, follow-up regularly, and continue to upsell, cross sell. 

So to measure rep productivity, one needs to focus on the sales process, the tools and the sales reps themselves.

How to Measure Sales Rep Productivity?

At the base level, Pharma sales team productivity is about lead indicators – how much time is the rep spending on the activities carried out. Large sales teams look not just at their field sales teams HCP/Doctor Coverage, but they also look at the frequency of these meetings – depending on the target set for each brand. With the ever-shrinking face time available with doctors, it’s important to measure how much detailing time is your rep getting with their doctor and if it is adequately used to share all the important information about each product.

Measuring Sales productivity must include lag indicators, like the number of prescriptions and $ sales achieved. These include measuring Product Sales, Focus Product Sales, Prescriptions Generated as well as the wallet share in each prescription. One can go into greater depth like the refill rates, prescription frequency, brand splits etc, but the basics remain the same.

Improve pharma sales force effectiveness

How well reps follow the sales process, uses the tools and remains consistently engaged around their goals will define whether they achieve business objectives.

5 Ways to Increase Pharma Sales Rep Productivity

In addition to traditional methods, leading pharma companies use a behavior led approach to drive engagement and productivity in their sales teams. Overlaying traditional sales analytics and data with sales rep Behavior data has helped companies unlock significant productivity and increase sales. Here are five ways pharma sales reps can be supercharged with behavior data and start achieving the desired outcomes.

1. Starting Early in the Month for HCP Coverage

Meet 30% of doctors within the first 10 days of the month.

Every sales leader knows the stress during month-ends when revenue forecasts are measured against actual achievement. Reps double-down on their sales calls during the later part of the month to meet their targets. This is a double-edged sword as doctor availability also goes down since virtually every brand’s reps are doing the same thing.

Top pharma reps ensure that they start early to beat the crowd. 

Understanding this behavior and helping your sales force start their sales process earlier in the sales cycle boosts coverage of doctors and consequently sales made. 

increasing pharma sales productivity - improve doctor detailing time

2. Improve Doctor Engagement by Using Digital Tools

Get your doctors attention within the first 30 seconds.

Doctors have increasingly lesser amount of time to spare which means a rep who once got 8-10 minutes now has to get them interested within 30 seconds. The only way to maximize this detailing time is to use content – infographics, videos – to quickly capture and retain the doctor’s attention.

The challenge is behavioral as many reps are not accustomed to making use of new age tools. Driving the use of these digital tool is crucial in improving sales force effectiveness and maximizing their time spent in briefing their HCPs.

3. Constant Upskilling

Invest in micro-learning to build consistent improvement in work habits.

Pharma brands spend millions of dollars on building content and training their field sales reps. While the information is available, remaining up to date on the material requires effort and build a habit of upskilling. Microlearning modules and frequent reminders help build a habit of remaining in touch with the latest content. 

4. Keep Reps Focussed on What Matters

Highlight high-priority KPIs that align with business objectives and personalize inputs.

As reps engage with their sales process step by step, it’s easy for them to be overwhelmed with too many priorities. Sales leaders who understand this, help reps focus on high-priority KPIs that align with the organization’s business objectives. Prioritizing the key focus areas – whether it is visits, learning, digital usage is intensely personal to each rep.

Sales leaders who can personalize these inputs across their sales force can look forward to truly improving sales productivity.

Increase detailing time pharma sales rep productivity

5. Keep Reps Motivated

Create a culture of celebrating small wins, appreciating your reps quickly and frequently and personalizing feedback to each rep.

While steps 1 to 4 talk about the process and tools, ultimately it is the individual on your sales force that makes a difference. A highly engaged and motivated sales force will perform better than a poorly engaged one. With the great resignation well and truly underway, keeping an engaged and motivated team is no longer a choice. Having a sales force effectiveness metrics built into the process is critical.

Behavior science studies show that extrinsic rewards like money and promotions only help engaged, motivated teams perform. Understanding what makes your sales reps tick and triggering an internal drive in them is what can really move the needle on rep productivity. 

How worxogo Helps Improve Pharma Sales Rep Productivity

worxogo’s nudge coach helps pharma reps stay focussed on their most important objectives and helps them build high-performing behaviors using nudges.

Many global Fortune 500 pharma companies use worxogo’s nudge coach to build engaged, motivated and productive teams. Some of the ways in which it helps includes-

Personalized attention – Imagine giving your field sales rep a personal coach who helps them improve their game on their key activities. Almost like the best manager you ever worked for. Using behavior science and AI, it nudges individal reps on on their intrinsic and extrinsic motivations and helps them improve.

Building the right habits – The improvements happen as the Nudge coach guides each rep on their lead (activities like visits, time spent detailing, digital adoption, sales process compliance etc) and lag KPIs (like Revenue, Prescriptions, frequency, refill rate etc).

A Productivity Wingman for Managers and Sales Leaders

Building better managers – Acting like a Productivity wingman for managers, it highlights sales reps who need attention or appreciation in real time and guides managers to improve their game at becomign better managers. The core of sales force effectiveness is around making the team prodcuvtive and using behavior data, managers can become the mentors they are supposed to be.

Behavior insights for Sales leaders – See Sales productivity in an entirely new light. Like Moneyball for sales, it provides behavior insights to Sales leaders to understand the “golden motions” for their teams and provides insights on which teams are high performing and why and where the leaders can intervene. Capturing insights from CRMs and overlaying behavior insights will help sales leaders look at their sales productivity in a completely different way.

The proof of the pudding is in the impact our customers see. One of our customers, a 30-billion-dollar healthcare major improved sales by 18% using behavior science. We’d love to share their success story or help you find yours. Connect with us for more details.