Fighting diminishing HCP access

Predictive sales analytics can help pharma reps make limited time with healthcare professionals count, says Lisa Clark.

Sales reps’ access to health care professionals (HCPs) continues to decline.

Add to this the move to value-based care models in the US, where payments are made based on clinical outcomes and not procedures, and the challenge of calling on the HCP increases. Now reps must act as trusted advisers, making every available moment with an HCP count.

Doing this effectively requires a holistic understanding of medical science, emerging therapies, reimbursement, and physician practice considerations. Most of all, reps need to be able to discuss the topics valued by physicians, such as research, business practices and patient outcomes. It is estimated that only 20-25% of pharma reps today have this skill.

Interestingly, the very element that may be overwhelming pharma sales reps – the volumes of data they must master and integrate quickly – may, in fact, provide the answer to their ability to sell more effectively in this dynamic environment.

‘People KPIs’

Modern businesses run on metrics and key performance indicators (KPIs) to drive operations more intelligently. While the marketing function has been largely data-driven for many years, now the sales function is entering the same arena.

Leading pharma companies have optimised their sales teams by employing a new category of predictive analytics for developing critical sales capabilities at scale. These sales capabilities platforms analyse data on individual rep proficiency in highly specific skills, such as disease state and patient outcomes, while also fulfilling regulatory requirements that mandate what can and cannot be conveyed. These platforms provide insight into sales rep capabilities, often in correlation with activity metrics, to formulate prescriptive training recommendations.

Partnering to launch a new therapy

In one example, a top-10 pharma company, with medical sales teams in more than 20 countries worldwide, launched an important new product into a highly competitive therapy area. The plan was to ensure a strong launch and quickly win market share from the established brand leader. It partnered with a separate pharma company on the launch, which meant two different company sales teams were detailing the product simultaneously. It was a challenge to ensure that the different company sales teams were aligned on product and therapy area knowledge. It was also essential that the reps could explain the key differences between the product and the other brands by drawing on the relevant clinical trial findings.

The company used a sales capabilities platform to reinforce deep product and therapy area knowledge, but also to ensure that reps could position their product benefits relative to competitors. The platform analysed data from thousands of brief, scenario-based challenges presented to sales reps. Programme efforts were designed to help reps focus in on the relevant clinical trial findings so they could clearly communicate the benefits to HCPs.

Two different phases of the initiative were run over the course of a year, in a number of countries.

As a result of using the platform, knowledge proficiency in this clinical area rose from nearly 80% to 95%. The analytics provided focused insights into the areas needing attention, such as product differentiation, and system-generated insights in the form of real-time graphical dashboards helped identification and proactive management of gaps.

Impact on market share

The countries actively using the platform to guide their sales teams achieved 12% higher market share, on average, than those countries using alternative approaches.

In today’s environment of declining HCP access and unprecedented market upheaval, the human side of sales acceleration matters more than ever. Pharma sales reps and their managers can play a transformative role in the company’s growth by bringing a data-driven focus to the formerly qualitative dimensions of selling – to maximise growth and minimise risk.
About the author:

Lisa Clark is vice president of Qstream, a provider of a mobile sales capabilities platform. Qstream’s scientific approach has been validated in more than 20 randomised control trials.

Read more on data management:

Quality, well-managed data is key to success