Winning the Commercial Arms Race
The US pharmaceutical industry has enjoyed phenomenal success--13% annual growth in the past 5 years in the face of challenges from a variety of sources, including generic competition and mounting managed-care cost pressures. To drive this growth, the industry has engaged in an increasingly intense commercialization arms race, nearly doubling the number of sales reps on the street since 1995. While this sales model has worked well for several decades, there is growing evidence that it is missing the mark for the many high prescribing physicians. Results of a recent McKinsey & Company initiative on sales excellence in US pharmaceuticals reveals that drug companies can benefit from revisiting their traditional sales model, with potentially big advantages for those who shape the emerging approach. And whether the objective is near term revenue growth or leading the industry in a strategic shift, most pharmaceutical companies can benefit from pursuing five key actions to drive sales excellence.
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Faced with growing budgets and declining effectiveness of commercial spending, most large companies have embarked on the next wave of significant commercial changes. But most of these efforts don't go far enough to address the rapid and fundamental changes in the stakeholder landscape which have knocked pharma dramatically out of alignment with its stakeholder base. The article describes ten priorities for drug companies to align their organizations with these new realities - including requirements for companies to partner with payors and providers in new ways, and make resource decisions much more selectively to focus on the stakeholders who really matter. Nonetheless, these changes won't have their full effect without a more fundamental rethinking of the industry's value proposition, taking into account not only product value, but the services and the customer experience offered to all stakeholders.
When correctly used, Internet-based communication channels are overall potentially more cost-effective per minute of interaction than physical details. Their value added, however, is in many instances not an overall cost reduction of pharma-physician interaction, but a means to complement physical detail effectively by tailoring the message and medium not only to the physician, but also according to the product, therapeutic area and lifecycle stage.European markets are poised for exploiting those channels more systematically: physicians in many countries are increasingly open to receiving web-based communications from drug companies. In addition, the technological conditions (bandwidth, Internet usage) are close to being fully in place, with many technology providers gearing up to penetrate the European territory. But to take full advantage of these tools, European drug firms must properly integrate them within the current marketing mix and in doing so effectively leverage the valuable information about physician behavior that can be acquired via e-detailing transaction. In addition, companies will need to contemplate significant changes in their sales and marketing organizations that will integrate e-detailing with traditional sales rep activities and with the overall sales and marketing effort.
The head of the German group's pharma BD team tells Scrip that Bayer has created a system which allows it to move quickly when sealing partnerships, as seen with the KaNDy buy on 11 August.