The pharmaceutical industry is fast changing due to the expensive promotion and research & development (R&D) campaigns, which are crucial to examine opportunities to simplify and streamline operations in order to align businesses towards the needs of customers.

Today’s representatives must be consultative in order to effectively partner with the customer. Being consultative means showing energy and confidence and having the answers to questions, or at least knowing how to get them if necessary . It means talking the physician’s language at the
physician’s level of expertise and matching styles – formal or informal.

In this situation, sales force effectiveness drives the success of pharmaceutical companies.

SFE (Sales force effectiveness) begins with

  • effective sales strategy,
  • sizing and structuring the sales force,
  • designing incentive compensation plans,
  • setting goals,
  • managing sales performance,
  • recruiting sales people,
  • motivating the sales force,
  • building a potent sales force culture,
  • and coordinating sales and marketing.

How technology can help Top sales executives achieve business objectives?

Pharmaceutical industry has leaders have the ability to execute against that vision through products, services and demonstrated, solid business results in the form of revenue and earnings.

Smaller, product-driven transactional sales organizations will find value in basic lead and opportunity management capabilities to reduce sales cycles and improve sales management visibility.

Large, complex sales organizations that support multi-tier, matrixed sales teams require role-specific functionality for inside field and strategic account salespeople, as well as scalability and performance attributes to manage large volumes of data. Many vendors in our Niche Players quadrant have better price/value alternatives for less-complex uses.

Nearly 70 percent of pharmaceutical leaders say that the business model for companies selling drugs is broken and needs remodeling, according to a survey conducted by Booz & Co.,

The biggest challenge facing pharma companies is pricing pressure brought on by governments. The logical next biggest challenge is the need to justify why a drug is better than the industry standard.

How to select a SFA Tool for your Pharma company?

Sales force automation aka SFA applications enables Pharma organizations to automate sales activities, processes and administrative responsibilities for sales professionals. Just like each sales organization is inherently different, not all SFA systems are created equal.

SFA has unique implications for each company, because factors such as

  • selling style,
  • organizational size,
  • sales processes,
  • integration demands,
  • diversity of roles,
  • number of users
  • and organizational structures are unique to each company.

How to select a CRM / SFA Vendor for Pharmaceutical?

A successful vendor selection strategy will assess providers that support data requirements, access modes and functionality for each sales role. The sales processes will dictate the functional components that best satisfy organizational and individual sales requirements.

  1. Its imperative to ascertain the ability of the CRM/SFA vendor who can consistently handle deployments of more than 500 users across multiple geographies or may lack strong business execution in the SFA market.
  2. Most Pharma SFA vendors offer glorified “sales reporting” systems. which doesn’t have complex forecasting or sales effectiveness techniques built-in specific to Pharma.
  3. They may have an inconsistent implementation track record, or may lack the ability to support large-enterprise requirements.
  4. Offer different delivery models (such as on-premises, hosted and SaaS), and differing levels of functional breadth and sophistication.
  5. Regardless of the provider you’re considering, ask yourself, “Will this vendor help my sales organization sell more effectively?”
  6. In many cases, a sales organization must evaluate not just a vendor’s suite of product offerings. explore the market further to qualify the capacity of each vendor to address your unique business problems and technical concerns. Thus depending on the complexity and scale of your requirements, your shortlist will be unique.
  7. Can Dedicated Pharma focused IT vendor, offer the best solutions to meet the needs of Pharma sales organizations, considering the price/value ratio for the solution?

How to choose between generic CRM vendors & Specialty Pharma CRM vendors?

It’s important to decide before implementing generic CRM tools like & Microsoft Dynamics CRM; whether the solutions and platform would best meets the business requirements of Pharmaceuticals & Lifesciences Industry. If you have ventured into generic CRM solutions before – you also understand that these solutions are not built to support you. You know that a solution that works for a “professional services company” will not work for you without a great deal of expensive customization, tradeoffs in what your process is vs. what the tool can support and ultimately sacrificing efficiency, usability and time.

You may read this article for more insights: Generic CRM vs BYO vs Industry specific CRM for Pharma & Healthcare companies

Choosing between Pharmaceutical SFA & CRM

CRM is more focused on customer service for existing and new customers, while SFA focuses specifically on the sales cycle needed to prospect, attract, and sell to new clients. A successful CRM implementation takes a tailored approach and includes metrics that drive critical decisions.

“There’s still no significant commercial tool that is more impactful than personal selling. It’s still a huge impact.”

CRM is a key driver for Sales Force Effectiveness in Pharmaceuticals. Targeted Sales Models such as Enhanced Key Account Management (KAM) and Closed-Loop Marketing (CLM) Strategies Drives Sales Force Efficiency. Advanced drill-down reports provides key data, information and analysis of trends and practices adopted to improve sales force effectiveness in the pharmaceutical industry.

Pharma is changing its sales model to a bottom-up system that can be tweaked to react to changes in physician demographics. “If there’s a market event that takes place in a local territory or district, we can quickly change the information or emphasis of the products we sell in those markets.”

The changing goal of the Medical Sales Rep

A medical sales rep certainly has to add real value for them and a big part of that is education about a product and the therapeutic category, and prescribing information, published data, etc., but also educational tools that they can use with patients, information and tools. When you deliver that, you’re seen as an allied part of that office.

Emergence of Specialist Sales Roles

There’s a greater focus on medical science liaisons (MSLs) and a focus on specialists going forward, with the continued need for samples in the office being addressed by almost a tiered sales force, if you will, with the lowest tier being almost the UPS / fedEx delivery model, the middle tier being base promotional—product-feature-benefit discussions—and the higher tier being the MSL.

Pharma need to get as many touches as it can, whether through the sales force or remote personal detailing or e-detailing, or in the form of an inbound or outbound call center capacity.

Every physician is looking for this answer – “Does this company understand who I am and are they responding to my needs?”

Tailored messages delivered by campaigns and channels (i.e., sales force, iPads coupled with interactive visual aids, e-mail, direct mail, tele-detailing and sampling, websites and speaker events using nationally known physicians). Clearly differentiated and tailored customer experiences can generate growth. The data and management of the process is facilitated by a campaign management database of the Pharma CRM.

A Case Study

AstraZeneca’s move, in late 2008, to start lowering the sales headcount for its $4.9 billion/year heartburn drug Nexium and replace it with a 300-person call center. By the end of 2009, virtually all detailing was eliminated, yet the company has been able to hold its sales line for Nexium through 2010.


  • The need for sales force effectiveness for pharmaceutical companies and the factors that affect it.
  • A study of major strategic sales models with case studies that enhance sales force effectiveness.
  • Sales force sizing, recruitment strategies, and key sale force training and compensation models.
  • An analysis of the competitive landscape, including profiles of major companies such as Pfizer, GlaxoSmithKline, Teva Pharmaceuticals, Novartis, Merck & Co., BMS, Johnson & Johnson, Eli Lilly, AstraZeneca, Abbott and Sanofi.

Reasons to go for a CRM / SFA for Sales Force

  • Develop key strategies to reduce expenditure on sales forces and increase sales force effectiveness
  • Optimize your organization’s resource allocation by identifying key models to size, recruit and train sales forces
  • Develop and understand how companies use tools and models to improve sales force effectiveness
  • Make informed decisions with respect to sales force training and compensation
  • Make more informed business decisions from the insightful and in-depth analysis of sales force effectiveness sales models and the factors that shape them.

Mobility for Pharma SFE

With the increasing penetration of mobile telephony and cheaper data-usage charges, a new mobile revolution in Healthcare is on its ascent. It is also important to facilitate this trend to increase the cost effectiveness of our healthcare while also increasing the ease of accessibility in our geographically spread out country.



Dipesh Majumder

Dipesh Majumder

Chief Evangelist at Medismo PharmaSoft
I am a Marketing Technologist, a strategist & a visionary with over 8 years of experience in traditional & digital marketing. I have been responsible for the development & execution of sales force effectiveness strategies, tools, processes for global Pharma sales organizations. Lead key initiatives, critical projects & continuous improvement activities.

Chennai, India ·
Dipesh Majumder