With the patent cliff behind them, pharma drug manufacturers are looking to pick-up momentum and find other ways to hone their competitive edge. Segmentation can be the key to to increase Sales Force effectiveness but this in itself must be achieved in line with the modern mantra of ‘do more with less’. As a consequence, Sales Force Model Optimisation and Effectiveness has become a key focus for greater efficiency and impact.

Prescribers, Payors and Providers

Today, the term ‘customer’ for drug manufacturers has broadened to include the direct Prescribers (doctors and other hospital staff like nurses etc) and other key stakeholders such as Payors (with stricter attitudes towards brand reimbursements), Providers (with an increasingly professional approach towards procurement) and Patients (who now have greater access to information and treatment trends) and Pharmacists (who are getting empowered to switch prescribed brands and drive patient adherence).

There are myriad of other influences, from Key Opinion Leaders (KOL), peer-to-peer knowledge exchange, professional associations, online forums, symposiums and more. These stakeholders may not be direct prescribers but they do have increased influence over a doctor’s prescribing behaviour and decisions. Yet direct Prescribers or Doctors remain vital to the overall Sales Strategy.

There are pressures on doctors as well– demands on their time, compliance requirements, unrelenting need for CME and staying abreast of innovation in treatments. These factors have led to increased expectations of the value of each interaction with a pharma sales rep as doctors seek more detailed, relevant, comparative and customised information. As a result, it has become vital for drug manufacturers to understand the dynamics of the stakeholder ecosystem and the impact of each factor on the prescriber community, and to use that knowledge to renovate the traditional sales rep-prescriber interaction processes to drive sales effectively.

Mind the Segmentation Gap

Traditionally, doctor segments drawn are most likely high decile, medium decile, low decile and non-prescribers, with higher decile prescribers targeted for more intensive sales and marketing activity. However, there are clear gaps and shortcomings in this traditional model that fails to consider changes in the overall factors that contribute to prescription decisions. Typically, such gaps in segmentation will include:

• Key Stakeholders – People Who Influence the Doctor’s Prescription Decision

Need-Based Segmentation – Channels, content, source and visit value that drive doctor’s prescribing behaviour are not clearly classified

Future Prescription Potential – The doctor who might carry a strong future potential in prescribing your brand is overlooked.

Because of these segmentation gaps, the prescriber targeting and detailing is not customised to each segment, rather a ‘one size fits all’ approach is adopted. The results are only too predictable– budget wasted on already high prescribers, limited improvement in market share across territories, increased sales costs, and low sales revenues per sales representative.

A Prescription for Change

There is a compelling need to go beyond the traditional and static Business Intelligence methods to segment and target prescribers. Drug manufacturers must look at bringing in other dominating factors from the prescriber constituency and personas that contribute to making the final prescription to the patients. The approach needs to change from asking ‘what was prescribed’ to asking ‘what contributed to that prescription decision’ – the answer could include behaviour, psychography, attitudes, social influences, promotional responses and so on. The key is to take an ‘outside-in’ approach, to move from the traditional ‘value from the prescriber’ idea to a new ‘value for the prescriber’ paradigm.

We recommend implementing four key steps in order to increase precision and profitability of prescriber segmentation and targeting.
Our4-step Doctor Segmentation and Targeting approach consider the needs and motivations of the doctors (‘value for the prescriber’) along with your brand’s unique strengths and propositions. This helps to align your sales efforts towards your brand strategy and objectives (‘value from the prescriber.’)

It is also modular in that you could add other influencing factors on top of the macro-segments to create a new micro-segment. You can combine a set of influencing factors and create a multi-dimensional segmentation as you go ahead with incremental improvements. And this multi-dimensional segmentation will be truly unique to your organisation.
Assigning KPI and Metrics for individual segments, you can define tailored journeys for each segment to drive every doctor with a particular segment towards the intended path to a higher prescription frame of mind.

Finally, the overall impact of this 4-step approach should result in improved revenues. As measured by Revenues per sales rep and SGA/revenue. The ideal situation demands high revenue per sales rep at a low SGA cost. By targeting different segments according to their needs, pharmaceutical companies can gain higher and quicker return on their Targeting and Detailing efforts.