Elisabeth Pena Villarroel
NOTE: The content below contains the first few paragraphs of the printed article and the titles of the sidebars and boxes, if applicable.
By Elisabeth Pena Villarroel
Creating Alignment for Effective Product Messaging
One of the most challenging issues facing sales and marketing departments in life-sciences companies is integrating their internal communications platforms for optimal product messaging. Misaligned objectives and poor communications are two of the factors that play a role in the disconnect between the groups. The traditional, siloed structure of many pharmaceutical companies compounds the situation, creating communications barriers that are both technical and cultural. By working at the senior levels to create a single vision for sales and marketing, pharmaceutical companies can decrease costs, enhance the effectiveness and efficiency of sales and marketing tactics, measure performance, and, most importantly, better serve their customers. Thought Leaders John Aiello. Cofounder and CEO, SAVO Group, Chicago; SAVO Group provides enterprise sales enablement solutions by applying creative, strategic, and technical expertise to client challenges around the marketing, sales, and customer relationship management process. For more information, visit savogroup.com. Julia M. Amadio. VP, Marketing and Marketing Services, Daiichi Pharmaceutical Corp., Montvale, N.J.; Daiichi Pharmaceutical, a wholly owned subsidiary of Tokyo-based Daiichi – Sankyo Pharmaceutical Co. Ltd., is committed to putting patients first in the development of innovative, targeted therapies that fulfill unmet healthcare needs. For more information, visit daiichius.com. Bob Anderson. Chief Marketing Officer, AmerisourceBergen Corp., Valley Forge, Pa.; AmerisourceBergen services both pharmaceutical manufacturers and healthcare providers in the pharmaceutical supply channel by providing drug distribution and related services designed to reduce costs and improve patient outcomes. For more information, visit amerisourcebergen.com. Robert Bedford. Senior VP, Sales and Marketing, Lathian Systems Inc., Plymouth Meeting, Pa.; Lathian provides online promotional and educational solutions to help life-sciences companies improve customer relationships, enhance product education, and increase sales. For more information, visit lathian.com. David Davidovic. Senior Director, Commercial Strategy, Genentech Inc., South San Francisco, Calif.; Genentech is a biotechnology company that discovers, develops, manufactures, and commercializes biotherapeutics for significant unmet medical needs. For more information, visit gene.com. Joe DeBelle. Senior Director, Marketing, Lathian Systems Inc., Plymouth Meeting, Pa.; Lathian provides online promotional and educational solutions to help life-sciences companies improve customer relationships, enhance product education, and increase sales. For more information, visit lathian.com. Christopher Dowd. Senior VP, Sales, Esprit Pharma Inc., East Brunswick, N.J.; Esprit Pharma is a niche-oriented, forward-thinking pharmaceutical company committed to improving patient outcomes and well-being within the genito-urinary and women’s healthcare fields. For more information, visit espritpharma.com. Werner Guminski. Managing Director, TNS Healthcare, Munich, Germany; TNS Healthcare is part of Taylor Nelson Sofres, a provider of research-based marketing information and consultancy services covering almost every aspect of business and society. For more information, visit tnshealthcare.de. James J. Miller jr. Director, Sales and Marketing, The Maxwell Group Inc., Norristown, Pa.; The Maxwell Group is a provider of live Web- conferencing solutions for pharmaceutical companies. For more information, visit themaxwellgroupinc.com. Pete J. Perron. VP, Sales, Valera Pharmaceuticals, Cranbury, N.J.; Valera is a specialty pharmaceutical company concentrating on the development, acquisition, and commercialization of endocrinology and urology products that improve patient compliance and create value within the healthcare system. For more information, visit valerapharma.com. Raul Trillo, M.D., MBA. General Manager, Proprietary Products, Baxter International Corp., Deerfield, Ill.; Baxter is a global medical products and services company with expertise in medical devices, pharmaceuticals, and biotechnology. For more information, visit baxter.com. Glenn Wong, Ph.D. Director of Operations, Trinity Pharma Solutions, Waltham, Mass.; Trinity Pharma Solutions plans, develops, and supports the systems required to enable and support the commercialization of drugs and other medical products. For more information, visit trinitypharmasolutions.com. Stephen Wray. President and CEO, Cadient Group, West Conshohocken, Pa.; Cadient Group is “e-defining” healthcare marketing by empowering pharmaceutical and biopharmaceutical companies to intelligently integrate their interactive and online marketing into overall brand planning. For more information, visit cadient.com.February 2006 Dr. Raul Trillo Baxter International It is helpful when someone who has prior sales experience goes into marketing; but marketing and sales are separate disciplines, and not everyone who has worked in sales can do marketing and vice versa. It really takes a lot of effort and training to select and develop the people who can successfully make the transition. Julia Amadio Daiichi Pharmaceutical Some of the biggest issues increasing the need for sales and marketing to work together are the OIG guidances. David Davidovic Genentech Aligning marketing and sales absolutely impacts the effectiveness of messages because campaigns will actually get executed as intended. It would be a waste of all the research and work that goes into marketing if the information didn’t get used as intended because sales hasn’t been sold on the rationale for that strategy. Examining the Rift A lack of trust, different goals and compensation incentives, and quick turnover are some of the factors that have led to the chasm between two functions that should ideally work hand in hand. Davidovic. There are at least two major models of integration. One is structure based, and the other is collaboration based. In the structure-based model, the strongest integration occurs when there is vertical alignment, for example the sales function reports into the marketing or business function. With this model it is usually much easier to ensure alignment because everyone is singing the same tune; the marketing goals tend to filter all the way down, resulting in well-aligned sales goals. In the collaboration-based model, there are greater challenges because the sales group does not report into the marketing group. This is usually because a salesforce may be responsible for multiple products that are managed by different marketing teams. This model becomes more challenging to integrate and is very much based on collaboration, effective balancing of priorities, very clear two-way communications, and effective coordination. This is the case even if both marketing and sales report separately into the same executive. Factors in both models that lead to divisiveness include lack of trust between both functions; insufficient or inappropriate frequency, type, and depth of communications; misalignment of metrics and incentives; and a lack of understanding or appreciation for each other’s real-world opportunities and challenges. Guminski. The reason there is a gap is that the players are working in siloed functions with siloed views. Brand management is working on converting clinical profiles into positioning strategies and developing communications to create the best foundation for sales. The salesforce is more or less focusing on delivery, share of voice, and keeping the door open to prescribers. Although there are good examples of how to overcome the lack of communications, the real barrier is that despite having a joint target — making a brand or portfolio successful — both sides are stuck in their view of what is most important: for one team the brand and for the other team the sales. Marketing complains that the salesforce is not implementing product strategies and is inconsistent in messaging. The salesforce complains about insufficient materials, information that is not for use in real life, and messaging that is too rigid. Both sides are right; the problem is not having a joint strategy in place. DeBelle. Whether the company is big pharma, specialty pharma, or specializes in medical devices, unfortunately, sales and marketing tend to operate in silos. A common complaint is that sales people who join the marketing team all of a sudden forget everything they learned and appreciated when they were in sales. Often, marketing looks at sales as the enemy and vice versa. There is a philosophical difference, which results in a cultural clash. Sales believes that marketing doesn’t know or appreciate what its does, and marketing believes that sales doesn’t effectively execute the POA. The sales philosophy is that marketing sits in an ivory tower; marketing doesn’t see customers or know what is happening in the field, and all they focus on is creating visual aids and other sales collateral, which sales uses less than 25% of the time. There is some truth to both of these mindsets, but somewhere in between lies the truth. The bottom line is that the relationship is very inefficient. Trillo. One of the areas where misalignment can occur is around compensation. The performance metrics that are in place for sales and marketing are not the same or similar, and this can lead to behaviors that cause people to work in an uncoordinated fashion. Also, misalignment can occur when communications are not frequent enough. We have staff calls twice a week to keep everyone abreast of all of the important issues that are going on in our business. These meetings also allow us to resolve any of the day-to-day issues that may get in the way of implementing what we have been charged to achieve. Dowd. Market research can be a dividing factor. Sometimes marketers rely too much on market research and the information that comes back from surveys, which is not always representative of what the doctors are trying to say. The sales organization relies more on the feedback that comes directly from the doctors’ mouths and the reactions and responses that they witness. Market research and the field interactions of reps may be aligned, but oftentimes they are not. What ends up happening is that marketers use the market research to write a plan and create materials and visual aids without talking to the field to clarify what they are picking up from the market research. Progressive marketing teams will take that research to a rep advisory board and talk to the members of the board about the data. Then sales can agree with the insights or let marketing know that the issues being addressed aren’t pertinent. Market research is critical but only when clarified and solidified by direct field input. Amadio. In many cases a single incident can be blown out of proportion. For example, if a particular rep runs into a problem with an individual formulary or account, he or she may raise the issue to alert others. This information can be misconstrued in the sense that everybody is experiencing this particular problem when, in fact, it is only one account or one formulary. Miller. There are always going to be problems when the typical tenure of a brand manager is only nine months. Perhaps the brand manager position should be valued more in the pharmaceutical organization. This way turnover would decline and the position wouldn’t be thought of as just one step on a career path. People could spend their whole career as a brand manager, which might be a better solution for the industry. Wray. Both groups have a different view of the customer. Marketing views the customer from an aggregate perspective or in segments, while sales focuses on individual physician practices and personal relationships. Generally speaking, sales lacks the research perspective, while marketing lacks the interpersonal perspective. Sales and marketing also frequently view their ownership in a different manner. Sales teams stake claims to the customers and geographies, while marketing is the keeper of the brand, its positioning, profile, and messaging. Those views don’t always meld together well in terms of setting strategic priorities. Overcoming Barriers Some of the challenges to repairing the rift include the field-based nature of the salesforce and the home-office location of the marketing team, as well as the inability of the two teams to overcome geographical and cultural communications barriers. Wray. Marketing and sales management teams at senior levels often are divided and commonly battle for internal resources and control. When this is the case, a divisional attitude filters down into the teams. Conversely, when senior sales and marketing management have a cooperative relationship, there is often less antagonism throughout the teams. A barrier to cooperation between these management teams is a lack of common objectives. In a perfect world, sales and marketing would be viewing shared dashboards of quantitative results that link brand and company performance objectives. Unfortunately, they often hold separate scorecards and are motivated by different metrics. Perron. Many times egos get in the way, and people try to claim responsibility and credit for goals that are achieved, which keeps relationships at a distance. Also, some companies have rules and channels whereby sales people in the field are not allowed to interact with marketing managers inside the home office. At Valera, our manager and VP of marketing have daily interactions with the sales people. DeBelle. The preconceived notion that sales doesn’t get what marketing says and marketing doesn’t get what sales says is clearly a challenge. These conflicting perspectives prevent effective, two-way communication and collaboration, which are critical to effectively bridging the gap between the two. Indeed, communications between sales and marketing are essential — the more the better. As such, the teams can learn what’s working and what’s not and implement the changes that will make them successful. Marketing and sales should fit like a hand in a glove; and quite frankly, the opposite is happening. Sales goes down one path, marketing goes down another, and each function wonders why it isn’t successful with a particular campaign or brand message. The philosophy of a tighter and integrated sales and marketing approach must start at the senior level of sales and marketing and then permeate through both organizations. Amadio. One of the biggest issues impacting sales and marketing working together is the OIG guidances. Some of the guidances are not particularly helpful for the ultimate patient. Some of the things that have been extremely helpful in the past — in terms of shared information between medical, marketing, and sales on education and general disease awareness — have been thwarted because of the need to separate the medical-information scientific groups. The benefit of having greater brand support has been lost. Additionally, regulations regarding privacy issues and other rigors that have gone into effect have in some ways closed down many of the communications that were particularly helpful. This issue is more one of medical versus sales, not really between marketing and sales. The guidelines create more of a chasm between our scientific groups and our sales groups, disabling better communications. Davidovic. Geographical dispersion, differing time zones, and in-office versus field operating environments are challenges to having integrated communications. The marketing team needs to interact with a sales team that is widely dispersed; this is true for U.S. responsibilities but even more so for global teams. Size is another factor; it is much easier to integrate small teams than large ones. Appreciation and understanding of each other’s needs and motivations are major considerations. The quality of communications needs to be addressed; there are big issues in how effectively people communicate as well as the mode of communication. Live meetings are best but not always feasible; therefore communication technology issues must be addressed, such as e-mail, voice mail, Intranets, Webcasts, collaboration tools, and so on. Information sharing is another challenge. Does each group have the information it needs from the other group to be most effective, and is there open sharing? Finally, ownership issues — disagreements around who “owns” the data that are collected as a result of business activities — must be resolved. The Customer Link Customer relationship management (CRM) tools can be a link between sales and marketing to expedite the sharing of important information to the physician customer and positively impact common goals. Trillo. The success of CRM initiatives depends on the implementation and the planning that goes into them. Any CRM system requires a lot of input from both sales and marketing when being developed so that it can be used easily by the end users on both sides. The system must be able to capture the information that is going to be important and needed by someone on the sales management team and the marketing management team. Davidovic. CRM is a relatively recent buzzword for something that has existed — to some degree of success or another — for many years. Often, details about customers and activity data have existed very well in sales representatives’ Rolodexes or spreadsheets. Of course, this has many inefficiencies, such as the inability to collect and consolidate from multiple sources, a high degree of variability in quantity and quality of the data, and “actionability” only to the representative owner of that data and no one else. Making the case to change this siloed approach into one that is fully integrated and where all data are available to all users is easier said than done. CRM proposals tend to “boil the ocean” by making recommendations that are too big and making promises that are too broad. Selling a CRM solution because it will increase sales is a difficult case to make. On a more subtle note, marketers do not need all of the information that sales representatives have. There is already information overload and far more information than anyone can possibly need or absorb to make a decision. Having more granular data will not necessarily lead to better decision making. Taking it from the other view, pharmaceutical sales representatives operate in a very well-defined world because of the industry’s regulatory environment. Some have advocated CRM solutions as a way of having representatives know about all company points of contact with their customers, such as those from clinical researchers, MSLs, medical communications, research, and so forth. The answer is not that easy, and I would advise careful consultation with a company’s legal or compliance group to address potential issues that may arise from this approach. Miller. Companies need a central point for communications. There are a variety of knowledge-management solutions available. An organization needs to have someone, whether it be a consultant or an internal champion, review the capabilities and needs and put a system in place that will integrate with the culture of the organization and allow everyone to communicate in a central environment. All of the data that are collected from sales and marketing then can be put into the knowledge-management solution, which will allow for an integrated approach to understanding what messages are being sent while analyzing the ROI more effectively. Wray. CRM is probably the single largest issue facing the industry today because we have dragged our heels in building a holistic model for managing relationships with our core customers. At the end of the day, this is what it’s all about. We shouldn’t be focused on whether the relationship is sales or marketing driven; we should be focused on our ability to build relationships with their shared customers. Both marketing and sales have a vested interest in doing so. They both desire increased access, and they want to increase intimacy with their most valued customers. With this in mind, it is interesting that the industry still remains so reliant on a two-minute dialogue with these customers on a once- or twice-a-month basis, especially when the technology exists to create a much deeper level of relationship. CRM, both online and offline, can extend and expand the relationship of the representative, of the brand, and of the company on a 24/7 basis, as needed. It can also provide information on a very individualized basis. The salesforce effort remains central to most brand-promotion efforts, and the industry would benefit by converting that to a more consultancy-style sell while truly integrating CRM. But it has to be designed with the customer’s individual needs in mind. The effective use of online CRM not only enhances salesforce performance, but it enhances access to customers, resets the entire value proposition of the sales and marketing effort in the industry, and in the process moves sales and marketing to a more collaborative point. Guminski. Sales effectiveness, or CRM, is no longer just about sales; it is more about resource effectiveness, with a focus on the customer and promotional effectiveness. When coming up with strategies we should strive to optimize a broad-based mix of activities across many channels to deliver the best return on the individual customer level that sticks together the brand perspective and the salesforce perspective. But a company needs a very clear concept and strategy, the right structures in place, and teams that are working together before it can start thinking about CRM applications. IT: Helping to Pave the Way While technology implementation is not the solution to bridging the sales and marketing gap, it can certainly play an important role in improving communications and data analysis between the two groups. Miller. The IT department needs to be a part of the task force that works on the solution to bridging the gap. But many times organizations will place the challenge of bridging the gap entirely into IT, and that can again create a silo. IT folks know what is good from a technology standpoint, but they don’t know what is good from a needs standpoint within the sales silo or the marketing silo. There has to be an integrated approach, and it needs to come from the top and work its way down through the organization. There can’t be just one champion from middle management thinking he or she has all the answers. Trillo. IT solutions are not the only answers. It is important that companies don’t just create and implement products that track everything but ultimately track nothing. At the beginning of each fiscal year, it is important that the teams sit down and agree on the metrics that are critical to the business for that year and then figure out how to meticulously track those metrics. This doesn’t have to be an IT solution. IT can be helpful, but I don’t think technology is going to resolve any underlying problems unless we figure out what is important. Amadio. There still isn’t an optimum system that assures that the latest information is current to both groups. There have been some tremendous strides in salesforce automation systems and salesforce effectiveness systems, but one of the biggest issues and challenges is linking the data back to real-time access for marketing. In both large and small organizations, providing marketing with access to the latest call data or other issues, such as compliance or sampling, has not always been possible, and the updates to those data are often too infrequent for there to be a direct impact. Davidovic. Bridging the gap starts with communications, trust, and understanding. No amount of technology can solve the issue if sales representatives do not trust or like what comes from marketing in terms of direction and resources, and vice-versa, or if product managers do not believe or accept the input that comes from sales representatives. In fact, in an environment of mistrust or misunderstanding, technology can have the opposite effect; it can make things worse. Technology may exacerbate the belief that people are being watched or that people are holding onto information they ought to be sharing. Information technology can certainly help in bridging the gap, but only if it is used to meet an appropriate need and if it is applied correctly. If better communications are believed to be a critical need, then effective e-mail and voice mail systems and practices would need to be considered. All too often, we apply technologies because “we can” not because we need them or because they would truly make a difference. The other often-underestimated aspect of technology is that it may be the right idea, meeting the right need, but it is poorly sold and implemented into the organization. This results not only in the business need not being met and in huge resources being wasted, but also in creating distrust and making it more difficult to introduce new tools in the future. Perron. We use a very advanced, yet simple, territory-management system that is Web based. We are able to input into this system what we need and use it on a daily, weekly, and monthly basis. This is information that I access when I have interactions with customers. The sales reps can enter data as they do their daily calls. Marketing can also access the system when it has an interaction with a key physician in the field or during a marketing advisory panel. This is one way that IT helps a small company compete with the bigger players. Dowd. Webcasting can be a valuable tool to bridge communications gaps between sales and marketing. Reps often are spread all over; with a Webcast, everyone can review the materials together, and marketing can walk the team through the piece. Best Practices From field advisory boards to preceptorships to socializing to improved metrics, executives interviewed for this Forum offer best practices to bridge the gap. Amadio. In my experience, I have found it extremely helpful to set up sales preceptorships, where folks from the field come into the home office on a project basis and work with the brand team for a two- to three-month period. They aren’t pulled out of their territories for all of that time; they come in for a week or two, then go back out for two weeks, and rotate back and forth for about three months. This enables the brand team to get current practical exposure to what some of the day-to-day issues in the field are, and reps are exposed to some of the rigors of putting out a simple sales brochure or a reprint. I have found this to be a very effective way to keep the relationship and dialogue between the two groups open. Dowd. Based on Esprit’s companywide philosophy that emphasizes team spirit, the expectation is that everybody is going to communicate. If sales comes up with an initiative, my managers in the field have a direct pipeline and access to the marketers on the brands; they don’t have to come through me. They need to copy me on e-mails, but it is key that the managers in the field have direct access to the marketers. Perron. Our product managers spend at least two days a month in the field with our product specialists, who are our sales people. We also have a salesforce advisory panel, and everything passes through this panel before it gets rolled out. We don’t have the resources that larger pharmaceutical companies have; so when we decide to spend money to implement a strategy, we have to make sure the materials will be used by the salesforce and that we’ll get a good return on investment. And there is a shared business plan; there isn’t a marketing plan or a sales plan. The VP of marketing and I both agree that this shared approach best serves the common goal of success in the marketplace. Thus, while there are strategies and tactics for sales and marketing, we tie these together into the shared business plan. Trillo. Baxter’s sales and marketing functions report to me, so they are unified under one person. Just about all of our larger missions are done as joint teams, with sales and marketing representation that includes not only senior sales and marketing leadership but also more junior folks as well. We work in a very collaborative way. Also, I’ve set an expectation that sales and marketing will work together and that it is part of their jobs to work together. Davidovic. Having one person who has a hand in sales and marketing can serve as a bridge between the two groups. The individual or individuals would be able to collect information from the sales organization and provide input into the marketing organization. A field advisory board also is a best practice implemented in several companies. A group of reps and managers who represent the sales organization get together occasionally with their marketing colleagues to discuss strategies and provide feedback on what is going on in the field and what initiatives are and are not working. Amadio. The lack of understanding around accountability and reward is one of the reasons why there is a division between sales and marketing. At Daiichi, we have a sales and marketing excellence program whereby we share our needs and our preferences for incentive and reward systems. Additionally, we are able to devise a more cohesive system for both parts of the organization sharing a common goal. PharmaVOICE welcomes comments about this article. E-mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org. Sales and Marketing Werner Guminski TNS Healthcare When we are looking at a more integrated approach to marketing and sales, we identify the joint concepts and processes that are needed. The overall concept of customer value management can bring together marketing and sales. Joe DeBelle Lathian Systems The rubber meets the road in the field. Marketing’s job is to help the sales team sell effectively, and the sales team must reciprocate by delivering a consistent brand message to its customers. The two teams need to work together to maximize performance so everyone achieves his or her goals. Pete Perron Valera Pharmaceuticals In big pharma there are definitely distinct lines of communication and responsibilities for sales and marketing. The lines are very much blurred in a smaller company. The politics are limited, and the goal is to draw off of individual strengths while working together as a team. Tools of the Trade To better align their sales and marketing functions, several life-sciences and pharmaceutical companies are employing sophisticated tools to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of brand-messaging tactics. AmerisourceBergen/SAVO Group John Aiello More successful field initiatives are the result when marketing efforts are truly aligned with the business of selling. Bob Anderson AmerisourceBergen has made substantial efforts to define the roles of marketing, business operations, and the salesforce. We know our success depends on quality execution, so we take this commitment seriously. Certainly tools such as the one from SAVO are an important element for enabling us to execute properly. AmerisourceBergen, which services pharmaceutical manufacturers and healthcare providers in the supply channel, has increased its offerings through acquisitions and mergers. One of the challenges that arose from this growth strategy was that the company didn’t have a consistent format that its large and growing salesforce could use to communicate the different programs, products, services, and technology solutions that it offered. AmerisourceBergen began operations in August 2001, following the merger of AmeriSource Health Corp. and Bergen Brunswig Corp., two major players in the pharmaceutical services industry. A year and a half into the merger, the pharmaceutical distributor was still working to integrate two salesforce organizations and two corporate sales and marketing departments. The company needed a tool to help sales people rapidly develop presentations and other materials for calls while ensuring that the content in the materials was in line with corporate messaging. A portal for storing marketing documents was in place, but this approach relied on the salesperson’s ability to know specifically the content needed and how to navigate within a very complex Website. Further, the marketing organization needed visibility into the usage of each piece of content. AmerisourceBergen looked to technology to solve the problem but found that its internal IT staff already was tasked with a number of ongoing integration projects. The sales department needed quick turnaround on IT solutions, so managers knew that, at least in the short term, the solution needed to be a hosted one. To solve this problem, AmerisourceBergen first undertook a substantial research exercise to understand who its customers were and who were the important subsegments and classes of trade. Armed with this information, the company approached the SAVO Group to help provide consistency in the way the its messages were presented. In October 2003, SAVO worked with AmerisourceBergen’s business operations team to implement a sales assist management tool to bring consistency and metrics to what was being used in the marketplace throughout the course of the sales campaign. After about six weeks of work to customize and build initial presentation templates, the company began rolling out the presentations component of the solution to 350 sales people in the field. Within the first month, 80% of the sales team had signed on and created custom presentations from a library of approved, up-to-date slides using a simple wizard to integrate specific customer data. After the initial deployment, AmerisourceBergen continued deployment of the e-brochures, e-proposals, and e-mail library to provide sales people with consistent means of communicating across more media. “When an organization makes a commitment to bridge the divide between sales and marketing, it does so based on an understanding at the senior level that marketing’s messaging and ability to communicate points of difference are extremely important in the magic moments of face-to-face selling,” says John Aiello, cofounder and CEO of SAVO. “AmerisourceBergen made that commitment and invested the time to understand the marketplace better and develop compelling messages. Then, working with SAVO and other partners, the company developed content that was meaningful and that could be executed through an easy-to-use technology platform.” Executives at AmerisourceBergen say senior management recognized the need to have a robust marketing team that understood its role in the business-to-business environment and a salesforce that recognized the support that the marketing group could provide. “I am proud to say that in this organization there is no longer a gap between sales and marketing,” says Bob Anderson, chief marketing officer at AmerisourceBergen. “The expectation is that marketing collaborates with business operations and with the entire salesforce.” Since embarking on the initiative with SAVO, AmerisourceBergen executives say the marketing team receives regular requests from the salesforce for support. Additionally, marketing is in the field with the salesforce to understand what the reps’ needs are, what the marketplace is looking for, and what the needs of the entire organization are. McNeil Consumer & Specialty Pharmaceuticals/Lathian Systems Robert Bedford The solution for McNeil’s Flexeril program dramatically increased physician response rates because it integrated the sales reps into the marketing campaign, ensuring that key brand messages were communicated frequently, effectively, and consistently across multiple mediums. A marketing program developed for McNeil Consumer & Specialty Pharmaceuticals by Lathian effectively brought marketing and sales together for maximum delivery of key brand messages for J&J’s Flexeril brand, a muscle relaxant prescribed to relieve spasms resulting from injuries such as sprains, strains, or pulls. McNeil’s Flexeril brand team grappled with two hurdles in its sales efforts. First, although Flexeril 5 mg was approved in 2003, the higher dosage Flexeril 10 mg had been on the market for about 30 years. For McNeil’s Innovex sales team, it was also a reliable and effective P1 product facing the challenges involved in selling a genericized compound. McNeil turned to Lathian to create a brief e-detail for Flexeril 5 mg. The Flexeril brand team enlisted the McNeil sales team to help recruit physicians to the program. But the Flexeril marketing team wanted to go one step further and use a creative approach to maximize the e-detail’s audience and subsequently optimize the sales representatives’ face time with physicians. Lathian developed a solution to address the goal: a single marketing campaign designed to incentivize both the sales team and the physicians. The program gave McNeil’s sales representatives a way to increase interaction with physicians during presentations, boost their incentive to talk about the drug, and drive more physician traffic to the e-detail. The key to this multifaceted approach was a tool from Lathian, Virtual Visit Invitations, which was personally handed to physicians during sales calls. On the back of every Virtual Visit Invitation card was a unique login code, which the physicians used to access the Flexeril 5 mg e-detail at their convenience. Physicians were also informed that they would receive a $25 online certificate for a medically relevant item at the end of the e-detail. Each Virtual Visit Invitation code was linked to a specific McNeil sales representative. This allowed Lathian to track how many doctors each rep was able to drive to the e-detail. At the conclusion of the three-month campaign, the sales representatives with the highest number of virtual visits were rewarded for their efforts. Almost 4,000 healthcare professionals completed the program — a 19% physician response rate — which is more than double traditional response rates. According to Lathian, almost 10% of the responses could be attributed to the marketing program, which effectively brought marketing and sales together for maximum delivery of key brand messages. Overall, the Flexeril e-detail campaign provided more than 60,000 minutes on messages for the brand. Moreover, 66% of the respondents to the e-detail stated that they intended to write more than 10 prescriptions for Flexeril 5 mg in the following 30 days. “We recruited physicians through e-mail, fax, and direct mail and worked hard to involve the sales team in that process,” says Robert Bedford, senior VP of sales and marketing at Lathian. “This approach dramatically increased response rates because it integrated the sales reps into the marketing campaign, and it was convenient for physicians. More importantly, Virtual Visit Invitations provide another opportunity for reps to get past gatekeepers in busy practices. It also reinforces that e-details are not intended to replace sales reps but rather can be an effective tool that complements their overall selling tools and techniques.” The tight integration of the salesforce with the marketing campaign ensured that key brand messages were communicated frequently, effectively, and consistently across multiple mediums. “Ultimately, reaching physicians is what it’s all about,” Mr. Bedford says. “A 19% reach for an older, genericized compound is, frankly, an incredible result.” Trinity Pharma Solutions/Spotfire Dr. Glenn Wong The implementation of DecisionSite has facilitated more integrated marketing and sales activities by empowering analysts to find and communicate key insights and information relevant to both groups. The fact that sales and marketing are collaborating instead of clashing is a major win in their long-embattled history. Trinity Pharma Solutions has bridged the gap between its clients’ sales and marketing groups by partnering with Spotfire, which now empowers Trinity with a technology platform for discovering and communicating market insights between the two groups. Trinity supports the commercial operations of pharmaceutical and emerging biotech companies by providing data-management and data-analysis solutions. Trinity was searching for better and faster ways to analyze sales and marketing data, while maintaining ready access to detailed information and flexibility to turn data into knowledge. Through an existing client, Trinity was introduced to Spotfire’s DecisionSite, a visual, interactive analytical application. “The product quickly became an analytic standard at Trinity because it is extremely well suited to exploratory data analysis,” says Glenn Wong, Ph.D., director of operations at Trinity. With DecisionSite installed, Trinity’s ability to mine its clients’ data for actionable insights has increased significantly. Not only can various sales and marketing data be seamlessly integrated into market analyses, but the tool also helps communicate those analyses to each group. Traditionally, marketing teams are interested in regional or national level trends, while sales teams are focused on individual physician or ZIP code-level performance. DecisionSite makes it easy to move between these two types of views, thus helping to guide strategic concerns, such as DTC marketing impact and more tactical issues related to salesforce performance and incentive/compensation. For example, Trinity was asked by a client to evaluate the growth of an oncology product. Through the use of Spotfire’s DecisionSite, Trinity quickly found that the growth in nontargeted accounts was higher than among targeted accounts. From this relatively simple high-level picture, DecisionSite allowed a deeper dive into the data to identify specific sales territories and key accounts where this trend was strongest. Marketing managers could then redefine their target audiences, while sales managers were provided with concise data to better guide sales rep call activity. Trinity has also used the Spotfire tool to gain insight to potential competitive threats to one of its clients. By identifying key, high-value customers whose business might be at risk upon FDA approval of a competitive drug, Trinity was able to advise the client on how to focus its sales and marketing efforts to be proactive instead of reactive to a potential threat. Addressing this key segment months before the potential approval allowed the company to lock in its position in the market and maintain its leadership position. Sound Bites from the Field PharmaVOICE asked representatives from around the industry if seamless sales and marketing communications and coordination could improve the industry’s reputation. Bruce Cameron is Senior VP of North American Sales at Pivotal Corp., Vancouver, Canada, a CRM company that provides a powerful, highly flexible application platform, a complete set of CRM applications, and low-cost, results-producing implementation services for the financial services, real estate and construction, healthcare, and life-sciences industries. For more information, visit pivotal.com. “For the first time in the history of the life-sciences industry, organizations have access to technologies and industry process know-how that facilitate seamless integration across all marketing, sales, and service activities. This allows these organizations to turn physician or GPO feedback into accelerated R&D and new product time to market. Match this with the 360-degree customer knowledge of each individual purchaser’s preferences, history, and contractual obligations afforded by today’s CRM systems, and manufacturers are much better positioned to go to market the way they innovate. This should have a positive impact on the industry’s reputation for innovation.” Terry Herring is President and Chief Operating Officer at Ventiv Commercial Services, Somerset, N.J., a provider of commercialization services to the global pharmaceutical and life-sciences industries. For more information, visit ventiv.com. “Sales and marketing can unite to create and communicate a message to the lay public, by outlining how certain quality-of-life parameters, such as life expectancy and overall medical care, have been positively impacted by pharmaceutical manufacturers over the last 50 years. Consistent “positive outcomes” messaging delivered by multiple vehicles, such as direct-to-patient and direct-to-consumer, is key, as is addressing the issue of access to affordable medications in our dialogue with both healthcare professionals and consumers. Lastly, we must partner to create strong, long-term, meaningful alliances with recognized and respected medical organizations and government agencies to deliver solutions to common challenges that can have a long-term impact on the quality of healthcare for everyone.” Mike Luby is President and CEO of TargetRx, Horsham, Pa., a marketing information services company that delivers actionable insights to pharma companies to help them effectively sell and market their products, which improves the performance of their brands. For more information, visit targetrx.com. “Unifying sales and marketing represents a great opportunity to improve reputation and performance. Our data clearly demonstrates that close coordination of these teams drives better brand performance. Yet, they often view the other as the “enemy in the building,” rather than as a partner with the same mission. Better coordination of DTC and physician marketing campaigns will ensure that patients will be oriented to the product benefits that are consistent with those promoted to physicians. For physicians, this will translate into an improved clarity and consistency of message about products, which is critical in the current environment of skepticism.” Rarely do pharma organizations proactively enable or demand frequent, structured communications between sales and marketing teams, nor do the management objectives for these teams drive knowledge integration and dialogue between the two functions. Stephen Wray Cadient Group Christopher Dowd Esprit Pharma Sales has a tendency to act in a vacuum or a silo. We are trying to keep communications open and make sure feedback from the salesforce gets back to the marketing teams. James Miller Maxwell Group Companies need a center point for communications. There are a variety of knowledge-management solutions available. An organization needs to have someone, whether it be a consultant or an internal champion, review the capabilities and needs and put a system in place that will integrate with the culture of the organization and allow everyone to communicate in a central environment.