September 8, 2015/Jack O’Holleran/Decision Support

As multi-channel marketing becomes more prevalent in the pharmaceutical industry, so does talk of making the sales representative the point person for multi-channel touches. The most common analogy I’ve heard is the rep being the “quarterback” of their territory. They are given a playbook, but make the calls at the line based off of their view of the field.

What this means is that reps are put in a position to make calls about whom to target, which products to detail, what channel is most effective for that HCP, etc. It makes a lot of sense considering the changes we are going through in pharma. Plus, reps hold the most knowledge of their territory and are in the best position to make those critical decisions. Sales people also become more engaged and motivated when they have ownership of decisions made in their local market. They like being in control and their effort positively reflects that when given authority to make decisions.

However, with this new dynamic, comes a new set of challenges. Sales representatives are some of the busiest people in the company and their current workflow already has them in data overload. Most reps don’t want to be in charge of triggering every piece of information hitting their doctors. They also don’t like the additional homework and tracking of data required to trigger non-personal channels effectively.

Smart Suggestions, or CRM Suggestions, have emerged as a critical solution to these new challenges. Suggestions give sales representatives actionable guidance so that they can make game-time decisions without having to spend long hours consistently punching through data. The suggestion engine constantly monitors data sources and help reps make data-driven decisions on what messages to trigger through what channels and when.

With that in mind, let’s revisit our title: if the rep is the quarterback, who is the offensive coordinator?

For a sales team with a suggestion engine, it is the person (or team) behind the suggestion engine that plays offensive coordinator. Akin to being in the press box, the person (or team) that configures the suggestion engine has an elevated view of the field. When they make a change to the engine, it can immediately be reflected through the engine and assist every sales decision. The rep remains the experienced quarterback down on the field of play making real-time decisions, but they can be so much more effective in doing so with the support of the offensive coordinator whispering suggestions through their headset.