7 Secrets Successful Pharma Sales VPs Won’t Tell You

What is it that makes one pharma VP of Sales more successful than another? Clearly, the product and market makes a huge difference (case in point: Sovaldi). However, are there activities within the Sales organization that the VP can control to optimize to his advantage? What are the “secrets” that successful VPs are using? Read on to discover strategies and tactics that can help you become #1.

1. Understand that the role of the sales rep is completely changing.

For years, reps were asked to detail a doctor for a few minutes via a paper visual aid and drop samples. Today, the paradigm has completely shifted to one where reps are using digital media (from iPads to webinars) and calling upon all key players in the office.

It’s not just about getting the drug message out; it’s about providing value to the physician’s entire office – from help with reimbursement to clinical trial enrollment, and yes, providing samples.

2. “Measure what you expect.”

The phrase isn’t new, but the metrics are. While Rx Sales will always be a KPI, it’s not enough to just measure rep reach and frequency anymore. Nowadays, physician engagement is a crucial metric.

How is the rep interacting with the physician across channels: outbound email campaigns, webinars, e-detailing, dinner programs, total office calls? What is the quality and value that he is delivering through these mediums? Like the conductor of an orchestra, the sales rep must be able to match the music to what each HCP wants to hear.

In tune VPs measure these engagements and their overall effectiveness.

3. Build payers into the sales strategy.

We all know that physicians are more and more tied to formulary. However, successful VPs deploy this information to their reps and leverage preferred positions to their advantage.

Their reps know exactly how much business is flowing through each payer by HCP and have a close relationship with their Managed Markets Account Manager.Not only that, but reps have customized “formulary cards” that trumpet their formulary status and copay amounts over competitor drugs to leave behind after each call.

When there is a formulary win, reps are able to act quickly to get this important news out, as the data is consolidated in one solution that integrates data across the organization: Sales, Marketing and Managed Markets.

4. Recognize the influence of the Affordable Care Act.

The good news is that more patients are eligible for care, thus opening the market. With that said, the ACA is impacting all facets of the healthcare value chain, such as the influence of Affordable Care Organizations on hospital and HCP decisions.

Rep messaging must reflect this shift and be more focused on the overall clinical and economic value of the medicine, the science behind it, and how it fits into the reimbursement scheme. Training reps on these types of discussions is crucial to success and may be a new skill for some of them.

5. Use the latest data sources to support the rep.

APLD (anonymized patient level data) has been around for a few years now. Similarly, specialty pharmacies offer a treasure trove of patient information, even down to where the patient is in the treatment process and his ICD-9 code.

Still, many companies have shied away from this level of detail. Is it because they think it will be too confusing to the reps? Is it the expense to purchase and manage the data? Regardless, these data sets enable Sales to longitudinally track patients and follow physician behavior.

For example, seeing physicians that are more likely to put new patients on a branded drug would be helpful to know when marketing a drug (vs. physicians that have the same patients return solely for refills). Also, seeing patient switching behavior across drugs allows for appropriate counter-detailing.

6. Put the power of analytics in the hands of the rep.

Speaking of leveraging data, successful sales forces don’t need to rely on homegrown spreadsheets or wait on ad hoc analyses from the home office to tell them what to do.

With a sophisticated business analytics solution, reps not only have a consolidated view of all their data, but intelligent business alerts that prompt them to take action.

They don’t need to spend hours crunching numbers or looking for business insights; the work is already done for them – freeing them to focus on selling.

7. Rethink the sales coverage strategy and compensation plan.

Whether you mirror your sales reps or use 1:1 assignment to each target, today’s sales model is changing towards an account team focus. Due to the influences mentioned above (new data, ACA, ACOs, total office call, new communication channels), the rep must lead the team to cover all these bases that enable customer service and value.

A few companies are moving in this direction – with some even changing their comp plan around these new competencies. GSK, for example, recently changed its compensation scheme from the traditional, individual sales target to one based upon technical knowledge, quality of service and overall business performance across the sales team.

So now that the secrets are out, is your sales organization ready to implement them? Are you on way to becoming Pharma Sales VP of the year?

To learn more, download this free whitepaper – Sales Force Empowerment: Closed Doors and Opened Windows.