July 28, 2015/Derek Choy/Decision Support

Welcome back to the Decision Support Series! Today we move on from “best practices in DSE Design” to “common use cases.” Understanding these cases helps companies looking to get started with Decision Support tailor their initiatives towards specific challenges or outcomes that are most relevant to their business. The use cases we’ve seen most frequently fall into the following four categories:

  1. Execution
  2. Impact
  3. Agility
  4. Coordination

Today, we will address the first two.


The most plainly obvious category of the four, these use cases address the desire to help reps execute against their existing goals more effectively.

For example, suggestions can be used to help reps better execute on their call plans, especially where reps have multiple products, higher numbers of target customers, or new channels and actions they need to execute as part of a multichannel plan. Complexity is the enemy of reliable execution. A good decision support program will help give reps clarity on the moment-to-moment decisions they must make in their increasingly cluttered schedule.

In our experience, the best reps get a 5 – 10% boost in execution by using a decision support tool (often saving precious time). But the greatest impact is seen with the reps who struggle the most. Lower performers receive upwards of a 20% boost in execution, as suggestions mimic what the very best sales rep would do, thereby helping these reps think and act more like the top performers.


Physicians are busier than ever and more judicious in how they spend their time. As a result, most pharmaceutical companies want to help reps make better use of information in order to have more relevant and valued discussions with their customers. This, of course, can dramatically improve the impact of their critical one-on-one time with the HCP, enabling the rep to deliver more personalized messaging.

For example, a decision support program could highlight to a rep during pre-call planning that the HCP just engaged with ‘efficacy’ content online. The resulting suggestion might then be that a specific presentation be used, related to that topic, that the HCP likely hadn’t seen. The rep is now in tune with the HCP’s interests and behavior and is acting upon those in a beneficial manner.

Short of suggesting messaging, a decision program could also do the hard work of pre-synthesizing what insights are meaningful for each HCP. This can have a huge impact on how effectively reps pre-call plan for discussions with their customers. After all, not all reps know where to find relevant data, how to access it, and how to synthesize and interpret it… let alone find the time to do all this on an almost daily basis.

Next week we’ll review the other two use cases – Agility and Coordination – in part 5 of our six-part series.  And in the final post of this series, we will conclude with Implementation Best Practices!