A New Year in the Pharmaceutical Industry

Looking toward the upcoming year, many of you have made decisions to reduce the number of sales reps and employees in your respective organizations. Congratulations, you have cut out some of the fat from your organization. The bean counters and stock markets should probably be happy with you.

Everyone has heard the saying, "if it ain't broke don't fix it?" One of my favourite bosses used to say, "if it ain't broke then break it." In today's business environment adaptivity is the key to survival. Let this blog be a wake up call for the pharmaceutical industry. There are fundamental flaws in your business model. It is broken! If you think that cutting people is going to fix the fundamental issues then you will be in the same boat next year and the year after that.

Have you considered whether your business model actually makes sense? Have you asked your customers what they want? Do your sales reps actually make a difference when calling on their physicians?

Have you asked yourself why physicians don't want to see reps any more? Have you asked physicians how you can better address their needs? I was at my doctor's office a few weeks ago and we got talking about the Pharma industry? I asked "what do her reps do when they come by the office". My doctor told me that the rep drops off samples and sometimes review papers. I then asked if she could name any of her reps and the answer I got was "no".

Given that there are few new products launches do we still need detailers who drop off samples and make no connection with the doctor? Does your selling model allow your reps to sell? Does it encourage your reps to make a difference?

Presently pharmaceutical companies spend a considerable amount of money having front line sales managers to support their reps. How many FLM actually understand what their role is? How many go out with a rep and at the end of the day make no impact on from a coaching perspective?

One thing I learned early in my career is that sales/profitability hides many evils. As you look to improve the profitability of your organization here are some of the evils you need to confront when developing a sustainable business model.

  1. How can you create moments of magic for your physicians so that they want to see your reps again?
  2. How can your sales people actually have an impact on their physicians prescribing behaviour?
  3. How can you develop front line sales managers who can have an impact on their sales team and physicians?
The one caution I would make to many of you is not to make the same mistake of going back to the same consulting organizations that have told you in the past to simply add additional sales force. The same consultants that create bi-ads and tri-ads (they must be m-ad).What this industry needs is creative approaches to solving the fundamental evils that are inherent in the detailing business model.

I encourage you to freely comment on my thoughts and exchange your ideas on how we can bring this industry back to its glory days.


Steven Rosen, MBA, Author | Executive Coach | Speaker helps companies improve sales performance by transforming sales managers into great sales coaches. Steven inspires sales executives to achieve greater personal and professional success.

He is the CEO of STAR Results, author of 52 Sales Management Tips - The Sales Managers' Success Guide. He is a contributing expert to Top Sales...

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