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Pharma Targeting: 7 Mistakes to Avoid

Despite significant innovations in prescriber targeting methodologies, many companies continue to use legacy approaches. Some sales operations leaders would argue that they’ve always done it the old way, so why change what’s been working? Others, meanwhile, may lack the time or resources to transform their processes. But it’s unquestionable that new methodologies for pharma targeting can dramatically improve sales performance, helping you stay ahead of the competition. With that in mind, let’s take a closer look at the seven most common mistakes to avoid when determining your target list.

pharma targeting mistakes

1. Being prescriber-centric

Gathering data about prescribers in each territory is a great starting point. But targeting based solely on the prescriber’s profile excludes critical information regarding the intent to prescribe. Indeed, prescribers’ influence networks, affiliations, practice circumstances, and patients often have a major impact on what prescriptions get written. In addition, understanding and accounting for the higher-level attitudes of the practice – including not just physicians, but all the people who might influence your success – can be key to navigating an office.

2. Targeting without trajectory

Failing to consider the trajectory of prescribers can quietly but noticeably damage your sales.

There’s no reason to stop nurturing your relationships with current prescribers, but make sure you’re on the lookout for other fish in the sea that may be critical to your future success. To create a trajectory, examine market opportunity and prescribing trends: are they upward, declining, or flat? You can distill this data into actionable determinations about who to prioritize in the future.

3. Living in the past

Traditionally, pharma organizations have relied on historical sales data for targeting. But looking in the rearview mirror creates a disadvantage. What customers did last month, quarter, or year may not be what they do next. Make sure you weed through the prescriber data to learn which practices are taking in new patients, the degree to which they can grow as customers, and so on.

Predictive analytics can offer better insights into which prescribers have the highest potential and thus merit more attention from your sales force.

4. Concentrating on the near term instead of the long term

Pharma organizations often prioritize and de-prioritize prescribers based on short-term metrics that only consider their current value (often brand by brand). To build a foundation for long-term success and target with maximum efficiently, prescribers should be analyzed based on their lifetime value to the entire portfolio.

5. Overlooking practice circumstances

pharma targeting mistakes

Pharma companies sometimes lose sight of circumstances that can make two prescribers of equal value very different. Not all market volume is accessible. Crucial factors such as payer environments, system and group practice control, and patient population should all be considered up front.

6. Lacking strategic alignment

Most sales organizations struggle to reflect their high-level sales strategies in the day-to-day actions of their reps – especially in terms of targeting.

For example, one pharma company was trying to replace a generic medication where there was meaningful differentiation, but their targeting didn’t take this drug’s sales into consideration. Targeting should be driven by your brand and company strategy, and it should help your sales force understand and embrace that strategy. If the goal is to sell certain niche products or expand the market in a challenging territory, the target list should reflect that.

7. Tuning out channels

Some pharma organizations forget that they’re reaching prescribers through a multitude of promotional channels. These may provide valuable information about direct-to-consumer advertising for certain markets, email campaigns, patient discount cards, etc. Always be on the hunt for those hidden gems of data that emerge from your multi-channel marketing efforts! Prescribers are always being called on by multiple pharma companies, so the collection and interpretation of this data can create a real competitive advantage.

Intelligently identifying and prioritizing targets is a key ingredient of the pharmaceutical commercial sales process. To determine the best targeting strategy and take aim accurately, avoid these common mistakes and think differently about your customers. That’ll help you position yourself as a key player in the market – and it’ll drive your sales force to the best opportunities.

To learn more about pharma targeting, download our whitepaper and check out our Life Sciences Insights.

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