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Pharma Targeting: 7 Mistakes Companies Should Avoid

Despite significant innovations in prescriber targeting methodologies, many companies continue to use legacy approaches.  Some sales operations leaders would argue: “We’ve always done it this way. Why look at other ways of doing it?” Other companies have a lack of time or resources to transform their process.  Leveraging new pharma targeting methodologies can dramatically improve sales performance, helping you stay ahead of the competition. With this 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-centered

Gathering data about prescribers in each territory is a great place to start for targeting. But targeting based solely on the prescriber excludes critical information regarding the intent to prescribe. Sometimes, the influence networks, affiliations, practice circumstances and patients matter even more.  In addition, understanding and reflecting the view of the whole practice, including not just physicians, but all of the people who might influence your success (whether directly prescribing or not), can be key to navigating an office.

2. Targeting without trajectory

Another mistake in pharma targeting is not considering the trajectory of prescribers.

Nurture your relationship with current prescribers, but make sure you spot the other fish in the sea who may be more critical to your future success. To create a trajectory, take a look at market opportunity and prescribing trends (are they upward, declining, or flat?). Distill this data down and you will know who to prioritize in the future.

3. Living in the past

Traditionally, pharma organizations have relied on historical sales data for targeting. But a rear view mirror puts them at 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 and learn about which practices are taking in new patients, the degree to which they can be grown as customers, etc.

Predictive analytics can give better insights on which prescribers to focus on.

4. Pharma targeting with short-term view

Pharma organizations often prioritize and de-prioritize prescribers based on short-term metrics that only consider their current value (often brand by brand). For efficient targeting, prescribers should be analyzed based on their lifetime value to the entire portfolio.

5. Overlooking practice circumstances

pharma targeting mistakesPharma companies sometimes lose sight of practice circumstances that can make two prescribers of equal value very different. Not all market volume is accessible. Payer environments, system and group practice control, and patient population are all factors to consider before targeting.

6. Lacking strategic alignment

Determining targets without fully reflecting your sales strategy is another common mistake. As a simple example, one pharma company was trying to replace generic medication where they had 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 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 are reaching prescribers through a multitude of different promotional channels.  These may provide valuable information about direct to consumer advertising for certain markets, email campaigns, patient discount cards, etc. Be always on the hunt for such hidden gems of data provided by your multi-channel marketing efforts! Prescribers are targeted by multiple pharma companies, so the collection and interpretation of this data may offer competitive advantage.

Targets that are smartly identified and prioritized are a key ingredient of the pharmaceutical commercial sales process. To determine the best targets for your strategy, avoid these common mistakes and think differently about your customers. This will help you position yourself as a key player in the market and drive your sales force towards the best opportunities.

To learn more about pharma targeting, download our whitepaper and read the Life Sciences Insights.

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