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European Pharmaceutical Contractor

Changing the Approach to Selling Pharmaceuticals

The pharmaceutical sales process is riddled with inefficiencies. Research shows that although companies continue to meet their overall sales targets, the productivity of individual sales teams has fallen in recent years.

Falling Productivity

This is partly due to the fact that sales teams have become too large because of a historic belief that the addition of more reps is the only way to increase sales - especially when new products are brought online.

The fall in productivity also stems from the way in which the sales team is structured. A team with a portfolio of three products, for example, might be structured in such a way that one sales rep prioritises the first product, another prioritises the second and so on. All three salespeople visit the same GP to promote different products from the same portfolio. This may be an effective way to increase overall exposure or 'share of voice' but it all too often results in conflicting messages, time wasting and ultimately GP alienation. GPs are reducing the amount of time they are prepared to spend with pharmaceutical companies as a result.

This is particularly bad news for pharmaceutical companies at a time when they face pressure on margins from government enforced cost reductions and a more lenient attitude towards generics and parallel imports. As a result companies have had to radically rethink their approach to customer relationship building. Some companies already use customer segmentation techniques to work out where best to invest their sales and marketing resources. By combining data about current profitability and growth potential they are able to predict the 'lifetime value' of a customer to within an acceptable margin of error and then allocate the right level of resources as well as the appropriate amount of sales activities accordingly.


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By Thomas Hennlich, Senior Manager, and Andrys Aardema, Consultant in Customer Relationship Management at Deloitte Consulting Falling Productivity

Thomas Hennlich is a Senior Manager with Deloitte Consulting. He joined in 1998 after working for more than six years for a premier, global power generation company where his efforts were spent on mergers and acquisitions as well as business development. His consulting work has mainly been focused on customer relationship management projects in the pharmaceutical industry.

His experience covers sales force effectiveness improvements, specifically aligning areas such as customer segmentation and performance management. His strengths lie in delivering strategic and operational improvements. He holds a BSc in Industrial Engineering, as well as an MBA from Northeastern University in Boston, Massachusetts, USA.


Andrys Aardema works as a Consultant in the area of customer relationship management at Deloitte Consulting in Zurich. He was engaged in various CRM strategy and process projects, mainly in the pharmaceutical industry. In addition, Andrys was member of the Deloitte Research Team to develop a CRM point of view on the European pharmaceutical industry.

Prior to his position at Deloitte Consulting, he studied Business Administration at the University of Zurich and at the Erasmus University. During his studies, as well as in his past professional experience, Andrys specialised in several areas of marketing and CRM.


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Thomas Hennlich
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Andrys Aardema
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