Sales in the pharma industry. How to increase its effectiveness?

Sales in the pharma industry. How to increase its effectiveness?

According to portal InfoPraca.pl, as much as 40% of all offers for traders currently come from the pharmaceutical sector. This industry is developing very fast and generates huge demand for sales specialists. How to improve their implementation and whether it is possible to exercise effective supervision over the network of advisors – these and other questions will be answered in the article below. 

Pharmaceutical market and sales challenges

The pharmaceutical market in Poland is still growing despite many turbulences and an ambiguous legal situation. According to PEX PharmaSequence, its value in 2019 will amount to 36.5 billion PLN, which will represent an increase of about 5.5%. This makes it necessary to hire new employees, especially in the sales and marketing departments.

Due to the huge demand for new employees, pharmaceutical companies have resigned from quite strict and hermetic selection of personnel. More and more often we are dealing with the phenomenon of traders from other industry sectors, including finance and FMCG.

A positive consequence of opening to new people in the industry is, of course, the possibility to fill vacancies and thus increase the sales value. On the other hand, this decision has generated new problems which sales and HR managers must deal with.

  1. The process of the so-called onboarding of salespeople is becoming longer. Newcomers must spend more time getting to know the industry, product characteristics and work culture. The time needed to achieve the required level of effectiveness is therefore quite long and is 3-6 months.
  2. The sales departments are very much affected by employee turnover. There is a shortage of specialists on the market, companies take over the best ones, offering higher and higher salaries. 
  3. About 50% of salespeople do not realize their sales plans. 
  4. Managers do not have the right tools to manage and control their sales network.

Increasing HR costs

This situation creates unnecessary costs. It is estimated that with a sales department of only 10 people, the average cost of salesmen’s rotation is about 115 000 PLN per year. If we add to this that we can expect full effectiveness of a salesman only half a year after he has been admitted to the organization, it turns out that pharmaceutical companies lose even more each year. 

Of course, every company tries to counteract this in some way. One of the frequent solutions is training, which is supposed to guarantee us to improve the competence of new salesmen. However, they are not always effective, and – we can be sure – they will increase our employment costs.

Poor control

We mentioned above that as much as 50% of the traders do not realize their sales plans. The reality is much worse. Even 15% of salespeople do not show any sales or only occasionally. What’s more, those at the bottom are looking for a way to survive and stay on the job. To this end, they usually use unfair practices to assess their performance. The most common abuse occurs at:

  • reporting the number of meetings,
  • reporting on the effectiveness of the meeting, 
  • reporting on sales volumes, 
  • reporting on the chances of closing the sale. 

Weak sellers usually overstate all these indicators. Why do they do that? The simplest answer is because they can. The existing reporting systems – these are mainly CRMs – only allow for saving data that are declarative! This means that a salesman, for example, sits down once a day and describes in the system how many times he has met with customers, whether the customer was interested in the product, how big the potential sales are and what are the chances of them at all.

All this information comes from his head – and the sales manager must trust them. This leads to a situation where management decisions are made based on data that, colloquially speaking, are often sucked out of the finger.

This is a common phenomenon, and its strength depends on the size of the sales network. In a small organization, the manager has a chance to supervise the reporting process, but in large teams (often over 100 salespeople) it is no longer possible. 

How to increase sales effectiveness in the pharmaceutical industry?

Sales Acceleration applications come in handy. Thanks to them, an organization can equip a salesman with a tablet with the application installed, in which the entire sales process is mapped. The vendor has at his disposal in one place all presentations, calculators, customer needs analysis mechanisms, as well as all marketing materials, contracts and offers that help him to present the product in an attractive way and finally to close the sale. 

This approach makes it possible to be sure that even a novice advisor will carry out the sales process in the way the organization considers most effective. 

From the manager’s point of view, applications of this type open even more possibilities, giving him a management panel at his disposal. This is where sales managers can design the process and update all materials for the entire sales network. This ensures that advisors always use the latest presentations, price lists and contracts. 

However, the true strength of Sales Acceleration is reflected in the analytical capabilities. The manager sees how salespeople work in the panel:

  • when and where they meet with customers,
  • how long the meetings last, 
  • whether the meetings took place (MCI – Meeting Correctness Index), 
  • what is the efficiency of meetings (MEI – Meeting Effectiveness Index), 
  • what materials and for how long did they used them, 
  • what the sales process for a meeting looked like. 

In this way, the application allows, on the one hand, to discover the most effective sales methods, but also allows to detect any attempts to abuse or to “color-up” the reports. Not only does the data available to the manager now cease to be declarative, but the control mechanisms embedded in the application allow for automatic information of sales managers about disturbing occurrences in their network. 

Artificial intelligence in drug sales 

Let’s add that Sales Acceleration tools open the way to go one step further in data analysis and focus on the very popular trend associated with Machine Learning. This makes it possible for applications of this type to suggest actions to be taken to increase the efficiency of the process. 

It is easy to imagine that an application will be able to tell agents and their managers that, for example, meeting times should be extended, or specific marketing materials should be used more often. And this will not be data based on someone’s evaluation, but on a hard sales history. This completely changes the face of modern sales in the pharmaceutical industry! 

Light in the tunnel

The pharmaceutical industry can revolutionize the way it distributes its products if it combines tradition with modernity. The opportunity for this industry is in Sales Acceleration solutions, which, on the one hand, put the human salesman at the center of attention and, on the other hand, use the achievements of modern technology (tablet, real-time analytics and machine learning) to equip it with a “weapon” that no one has ever had before. 

PS. If you want to try out a Sales Acceleration tool in your company, use this form: test the demo. Salesbook is the first application of this type on the Polish market – it already effectively helps traders in companies such as Mercedes-Benz, Energa or Polaris.