November 2002 —Newsletter Focus: Fundamentals Win
"Gentlemen, this is a football." --Vince Lombardi
Legendary Green Bay Packers coach Vince Lombardi started every season with a team meeting. Surrounded by veterans and rookies alike, he would hold a football high above his head so that each player could see it. With all eyes on him, he simply said: "Gentlemen, this is a football."
This was Coach Lombardi's way of reminding all of his players that success begins with a clear understanding of the basics. While it may have been a little simplistic, it succinctly illustrates the need to understand the fundamentals before moving on to more advanced tasks.
Pharmaceutical sales is an increasingly competitive and sophisticated environment in which teams are constantly developing and implementing extremely complex selling strategies. But within all of this complexity, Coach Lombardi's strategy still holds true: the most successful teams are those that excel at the fundamentals.
A recent project highlighted the value of executing the basics well. In this project, we analyzed low, average and high performing sales territories, to identify what factors contributed to (or detracted from) the success of each. Our findings were interesting--while all of the representatives we studied had similar training and experience, two factors separated the high performers from the low performers--high performers made more 'quality' calls on targets, and had better target participation in programs.
Taking the Basics to the Top: Excel in Four Key Areas
Pharmaceutical sales success depends less on elaborate strategies than on excelling in four key areas:
1. Choosing the right customers
2. Achieving the right call frequency
3. Delivering the right message
4. Planning and executing effective marketing programs
Effective territory and account management is a core enabler of each of these fundamentals:
Targeting: Not all doctors are profitable to call on, so a process and discipline must be in place to select and focus on appropriate targets.
Frequency: Sales are directly related to achieving planned frequency. A rep that achieves the desired frequency plan with targets achieves better sales results.
Message: With the average detail running ˝ to 2 minutes, delivering an influential message is imperative. The impact of reps' calls can vary dramatically.
Programs: Well designed and executed programs involving target physicians effectively augment face-to-face selling efforts.
While the concepts are straightforward, there is a wide variation in performance on these fundamentals in top performing vs. average performing reps:
The Basics Top Performers Average Performers Targeting
Understands targeting strategy
Builds route based on high value targets' availability
Can't articulate why a specific physician is or is not a target
Frequently calls on non-target physicians to get a scrip anywhere possible
Tracks YTD frequency and performance by target
Collaborates with other company sales teams to increase access and customer satisfaction
Poor commitment to attaining frequency goals on key physicians
Calls per day focus
Message customized based on previous calls
Pre-call planning prior to each call
Post-call note taking, ideas for next call
"Message of the day" mindset
Sporadic pre-call planning
Sporadic post-call note taking
Programs Programs used to create access to hard-to-see physicians Programs focused on easy-to-see, friendly physicians
Let's look at 'Message,' for example. An effective call advances the sales process to the next stage, moving closer toward the desired outcome. That outcome can be anything from getting an initial prescription for one patient per week to increasing usage from 15 to 20 patients in a day. Proper pre-call planning can make or break the success of a call, because so much of the call's impact is determined before the rep ever sets foot in the doctor's office.
Effective and consistent pre-call planning enables the rep to make the most impact during their short face-to-face interaction. By reviewing sales patterns, call history (including partner activity) and the overall selling strategy, the rep will be better prepared to determine the desired outcome of the call. Without detailed pre-call planning, it's easy for one call to resemble the next--unnecessarily extending the sales process, wasting the doctor's time, and reducing the rep's credibility and effectiveness.•
Welcome to "HIPS"
Since 1996, RM Consulting International (RMCI) has helped pharma clients develop excellent sales forces. We're excited to deliver the premier issue of HIPS-High Impact Pharma Selling-a monthly newsletter we hope you'll find full of actionable and insightful information.
As always, RMCI is interested in listening as well as sharing. We want this newsletter to serve as a resource to you, and as a result, ask for your feedback, suggestions, criticisms or accolades. Help us better help you by telling us what issues you'd like covered in upcoming editions of HIPS.
Click here for a 10 question quiz that will tell how well your sales team is executing 'the basics'
If it's So Basic, Why Isn't Everyone Succeeding?
Everybody knows the basics. Most know the best practices. Yet it is rare that we spend a day with a rep who consistently demonstrates best practices on fundamentals. Why? A few common reasons are:
- They're measuring the wrong thing. The biggest hurdle is a focus on the wrong metrics. We recently worked with a sales team that was focused on achieving 10 calls per day. Most of the reps achieved this number, but less than ˝ of the calls were on target physicians. Reps tend to do what they're paid to do and what they're measured on--not necessarily what works best.
- They need guidance. Coaching needs to be customized to their needs and focused on all the fundamentals. We frequently travel with reps and DMs. Many DMs fall into the trap of coaching only on the sales call (message) and miss opportunities to improve the reps fundamentals in targeting, frequency and programs.
- They don't share best practices. Very few sales teams have anyone clearly responsible for capturing, validating and sharing best practices. This means that each rep and DM does a lot of experimenting to develop processes that work. Failed experiments cost time. Successful experiments yield results, but frequently for only one rep or district.
Future issues of HIPS will address:
- A Process to Improve Sales Force Effectiveness
- DMs - the Key to SFE
- Collaboration - Maximum Impact
Copyright 2002, RM Consulting International. All rights reserved.
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2002, RMCI. All rights reserved."
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