Industry research shows that Sales Teams have "significantly more dead wood in the field forces than in other industries" and that company "best practice" may not actually be what's best for your company...
As if we weren’t acutely aware of the on-going sales crisis within the pharma industry already, a leading voice in business consultancy has been researching pharma’s sales force performance - and the results are anything but flattering.
“There’s significantly more dead wood in pharma field forces compared to other industries. That’s partly due to the fact that there’s downsizing going on but really a lot of legacy reps aren’t fit for the future needs and requirements of the organisation.”
Speaking our recent Barcelona 2012 event, Marty Nicholas of Blackdot took the time to speak to me about his discoveries and confirms what many have suspected for a long time – pharma is streets behind most other industries when it comes to today’s requirements.
“I think the industry at the moment has a lot of strategic issues and challenges, increasing competition for doctors’ time and advocacy, the decline or the end of the blockbuster patent era, changes in buying dynamics with the emergence of key accounts, more stakeholder groups to pleas etc. But every industry we work with has got their complications. Pharmas are very acutely felt at the moment and it’s an industry that’s not quite in crisis but is having a crisis around where it’s going.”
Marty’s observations echo the sentiments of industry veterans everywhere, as was recently reported, two thirds of EU and US executives feel the current model is “broken and needs repair”. The cause for frustrations lies in that, while this is an often repeated observation, it’s rarely expanded upon or better still – positively addressed.
Blackdot have some interesting findings regarding this “broken” model, and have begun by separating the sales force into five different categories, ‘true believer’, ‘compliant’, ‘maverick’, ‘self-reliant’ and ‘clueless’.
Marty’s research shows him that the ’maverick’ group has typically made up only 9% of a sales force, however in pharma that number increases dramatically. And whereas in other industries those mavericks would normally be falling behind in sales, those reps in pharma are actually the group that is enjoying the most success!
“In our evidence the mavericks typically deliver four percent more sales than any other group and their on target performance is two percent greater, which might not feel like large quantities, but across large groups, they amount to huge numbers.”
Huge numbers indeed, when you consider that the global Pharma sales in 2011 are thought to be in the region of $880 billion, this additional 4 percent is clearly not to be sniffed at! The research points to something else also – while our ‘true believers’ are underperforming, our rule-breaking ’mavericks’ are enjoying a streak of success; a quantifiable indication that the established way of doing things is no longer cutting it.
“So the organisation’s got to have a long hard look at the underlying segmentation model and be open to the notion that there might be a better way of doing things. Understand what that looks like - and then remake the model on the basis of what’s been learned. We define ‘dead wood’ as someone who’s been in a role more than two years, is a below-average performer, has lower belief or doesn’t believe personal targets are attainable. The maverick, however, will never become anything but a true believer if the model changes to a way which actually better enables them to perform. So you look at all those things in aggregate and you start to see where the opportunities might lie.”
What do you think? Are common sales practices preventing sales forces from performing at their best? Is the industry bogged down with "dead wood"? Share your thoughts in the comments below...
For exclusive sales force insights download the official eyeforpharma Key Account Management Report 2012. To find out more about how to revitalise your sales force take a look at Pharma Sales Reps going Freelance in 2012? Will Social Media be the Enabler?
For an opportunity to find out more about the future of Pharma sales check out the SFE & Commercial Excellence USA conference taking place in June.
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