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Posted on
January 18, 2018 by Actando Consulting Team LEARNING SOLUTIONS > Blended learning

Transformation: Maintaining Momentum


Change is not easy, and transformational change often loses its lustre right when it needs to push through and sustain the momentum.

“To maintain excellent performance in the face of external changes and intensifying competitive pressures, leaders must be able to adapt their organizations to deliver. Evidence shows that only a third of excellent companies stay that way in the long term, and even fewer are successful at executing change programs.” [McKinsey Quarterly, in 2011 ‘How do I transform my organisation’s performance?’]

The industry’s earlier interventions, when the patent cliff first reared its ugly head several years ago, included investing in salesforce effectiveness through salesforce automation; reassessing the salesforce resource allocation and aligning to better segmentation and targeting strategies, as well as introducing new selling techniques, account management and cross-functional ways of working. Incentives and rewards were polished up and new roles that focus on the patient and other non-traditional stakeholders were introduced.

Then the roadmap to ‘digital transformation’ emerged. It was probably the last really big push, bringing the need to provide seamless customer experiences across multiple channels. This challenge seems to be a monumental hurdle for Pharma and we might be a little change-fatigued.

“Adapting to today’s sophisticated customer is challenging. Customers want simplicity, value for money and a seamless, responsive experience. However, enterprises are often complex and fragmented with multiple customer touch points, legacy systems and processes, and channel and data constraints”. [Blackdot ]

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Shiny New Things

Transformational change initiatives must continue to have relevance and meaning for all stakeholders to buy in. If the Commercial Excellence leader drives transformational initiatives without alignment to the delivery of the organisation's goals, their colleagues will not support the changes during tough times and the changes will not stick in the longer term. 

There are often several change initiatives going on at once, putting a lot of pressure on teams, and the meaning and relevance for each individual can get lost. This, in turn, slows the momentum and allows distractions to take valuable resources away before the longer-term change has been embedded.

Let’s face it, we humans like shiny new things! The leadership team needs to stay focused on the ‘why’ which is market driven, and not just the how and what.


Unprofitable Channel

Over the past 10 years, the future of the Pharma Rep was etched out in various personas. The arrival of digital cast some doubt on the future of the rep role, which is once again recognised as a vital part of a multichannel strategy. However, Pharma still has many reps out there doing the same thing as they did before – promoting brands to time-poor HCPs, now with a little more variety in the content and usually on a modern device

Bozidar Jovicevic, VP, Global Head Digital Medicines, Sanofi, in a recent Eyeforpharma blog, said that the rep channel is simply no longer delivering the ROI of the past because they are still doing the same things as before and not adding new value.

 “The number one commercial channel for years and decades has been sales reps, visiting physicians and influencing them to prescribe drugs. Pharma companies use many other channels but that has been the most impactful channel for years. That channel is slowly dying, for two reasons. Doctors are either closing their doors to sales reps or else limiting the visits to just two minutes – you have sales reps driving around in their cars with a price per visit being between US$300-500 and maybe making five sales calls per day. That adds up to spending just ten minutes with physicians each day, which is really not impactful." [Dec 2017 Eyeforpharma Blog ]

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Keeping Up Momentum

In parallel, Marketing has added digital channels to their mix, as almost a must-have, and Patient Support programs now exist as both organisational ‘branding’ efforts as well as for treatment specific reasons.  There is also a lot of effort being made by our industry to promote corporate responsibility and build company brands in order to develop trust and demonstrate our value to the wider community.

Each channel should be a planned value-adding piece with a unique role in an integrated customer engagement ecosystem. The Rep channel is too expensive to be simply a me-too risk-management strategy. In saying that, the human channel has so much potential to be a curator of content, a multiplier of channels, and a personal concierge to HCPs.

So, a lot has happened along our transformational journey already and we need to keep the momentum by taking care of the organisation's own health along this journey:

  • Re-align the leadership to the ‘why’ and ensure the whole organisation is still bought into the long-term benefits;
  • Continue to work as hard on the culture as on the products, processes and technologies.
  • Continue to execute the roadmap and embed Commercial Excellence best practices, but remain agile and adaptable to the market. Benchmark against related worlds, in addition to other Pharma companies.
  • Don’t be afraid to get help – sometimes an external partner can bring freshness, new energy and focus;
  • Make everything measurable with direct links to business outcomes, and finally
  • Take care of the core of the organisation – the talent and knowledge. This ensures enduring change and continuous improvement


If you are interested in our mobile learning solutions on digital channels, contact Actando.

The Actando Consulting Team