4 March, 2021

Engaging Sales Teams in the Pharma Sector

Way before our rapid advances with the COVID-19 vaccinations, the Indian pharmaceutical industry has been a flagbearer for creating affordable, effective solutions for the global healthcare industry. However, with economic volatility and increased competition, the pressure on sales teams of these firms has been tremendous. In fact, the very relationship between brands and secondary sales networks has changed over the decades. Earlier, pharmaceutical representatives were the primary source of clinical information about drugs. Today, such information is often sought online. Purchase decisions are also influenced by payers like insurance firms and customer preferences, which means that distributors need to engage multiple stakeholders in the health industry value-chain. Additionally, customers are increasingly looking for a differentiated value proposition from pharma companies and given the increased workload on healthcare providers post COVID-19, getting the most out of sales meetings is crucial for closing opportunities. It is more essential than ever before to ramp up channel partner incentive programs to boost pharma sales.

A channel partner and sales incentive software can help in creating, gamifying and automating a payout program, while engaging sales networks digitally, in the following ways:

Data Visibility

Data visibility, while a common challenge for sales leaders across industries, is heightened in the pharma industry due to geographically distributed operations and dependency on manual/legacy systems for reporting sales data. A SaaS platform will ensure real-time data visibility for the company as well as its’ partners. Visibility can even be down to seeing performance region wise with the help of geotagging facilities.

Complex Incentives Structure

The pharma sector has typically focused on commissions as a source of incentive for sales team, rather than a fixed base pay. However, with the added aforementioned ‘influencers’ in modern pharma sales like online portals and patients’ brand perception, it is difficult to determine the percentage role of a frontend salesperson in closing a deal. Also, the KPIs for channel sales has to evolve with market needs, like value-added services and customer retention, which most incentive systems are incapable of accommodating. A channel incentives platform can structure complex incentive quotas and track multiple KPIs for a single employee, making the program fairer and more relevant.

Automated Calculation and Payout

Manual errors in calculation and distribution of incentives can be eliminated with a channel incentives software, irrespective of the complexity involved. Such software also has in-built performance analytics capabilities, allowing companies to easily measure the ROI of the incentives program at various levels. This granularity of data thus helps in bifurcating sales strategy at the national and regional levels.

Flexible Program Rules

With constant changes in the life sciences and pharma industry, it is of prime importance for companies to stay flexible in devising their sales strategy. If the company chooses to drive a single-product, like immunity-boosting vitamins for COVID-19 recovery, they can get focused reports on product performance, whereas if the focus is on overall profit-generation, commissions can become margin-based. A robust software helps support these essential changes and support C-suite leaders at a strategic level.

Sales Enablement Tools

Finally, a unified digital platform can help maintain alignment in a virtual world, wherein the latest product launches, clinical information, videos and marketing collaterals are accessible to channel partners with a few clicks. This information can then be passed to customers through social media/email/WhatsApp with ready integrations for seamless communication. In fact, a study shows that Indian doctors are most receptive to information in the form of videos shared through WhatsApp.

Information technology has resulted in a more informed customer base and digital selling of healthcare drugs too is a slow but growing trend in India. However, medical representatives still have an indispensable role in the pharma sales cycle and can leverage the power of relationship-building to engage their customers. Companies must remember that only an engaged workforce can deliver a delightful customer experience. A channel partner engagement software can help with seamless engagement and incentivization, while saving significant administrative costs for pharma companies.