3 Tips and Tricks for Efficient Pharma Targeting
Many pharmaceutical companies use the same traditional method for targeting. They use the same data and
go through the same time consuming process only to end up with the same targeting plan as their
competitors. The sales organizations that are taking a fresh look at an age old process are seeing new
opportunities to improve the effectiveness of their sales teams.
Taking advantage of the proliferation of data available on markets, prescribers and patients, then
building a flexible process that allows for this data to continue informing the sales targeting plan,
enables the sales force to create value more quickly. Below are three core targeting concepts that
companies leading the commercial process have embraced.
1. Localize Targets
Traditionally, pharma targeting took a set of rules and applied them to all customers. But a
one-size-fits-all plan for territory targeting may no longer be effective. Though
such standard procedures offer a certain degree of efficiency, they don’t provide the expected outcomes
in such a highly competitive environment. Not considering local business realities means critical
information is excluded from your target identification and prioritization process. Here are the core
concepts revolving around target localization:
- Consider payer circumstances – impact of national vs. regional plans, local key employers, state and
managed Medicaid etc.
- Apply concepts of customer valuation (deciling, indexing, profitability, accessible volume, etc.)
after localizing your targets.
- Bring the realities of practice centralization into the process and recognize the potential need for
a differential sales force deployment. Single and small practice customers should be regarded
differently than larger groups or systems. The degree of control placed on HCPs should factor into
2. Take Advantage of Data Proliferation
There’s more data now than ever to enable smarter identification and prioritization of targets. When
crafting targeting processes, pharma companies should go beyond traditional brand coverage and ask
themselves questions such as:
- Who are the initiators? Who are the re-fillers?
- Who has an open patient panel vs closed?
- What type of patients do customers see?
- What do local referral and influence networks look like?
- What does the patient flow look like for a given disease state?
- What indication is my brand being written for?
The granularity of prescription and health claims data also enables companies to segment customers in
ways they never could before. Pharma companies are missing out if they are not taking advantage of
these new sources.
3. Consider the Time to Value
Targeting should be able to keep up with a rapidly evolving market, without sending the sales force to
chase shadows. Without overwhelming the field by providing conflicting priorities, pharma companies
should introduce agility into the targeting process. Prescribing is going to change, physicians move,
and with every day that goes by, the initial targeting list becomes less and less a reflection of the
An agile process continuously evaluates HCPs and prioritizes them for sales force promotion during
offcycle periods. For instance, if formalized targeting is done every six months, a monthly or quarterly
process can pick up valuable customers and bring them to the attention of the sales force. This allows
for market events like changes in the managed care environment to be appropriately reflected in customer
valuation. An agile targeting process proactively signals the sales force when existing targets move to
new territories, when the value of an untargeted HCP rises, or when white space HCPs demonstrate the
intent to prescribe.
Depending on the product life cycle, pharma companies should
update their targeting list once a quarter or every 6 months. In the first months after a launch, an
agile targeting process would offer more frequent valuation without disrupting sales force focus.
For more efficient, agile targeting, pharma companies should examine their approach to localization, take
advantage of the proliferation of available data, and consider the time to value. These three concepts
represent the cutting edge of pharma targeting. Companies that move quickly to adopt them will sell more
and in less time. In an industry where every product has a defined shelf life, every day counts.