Using predictive analytics to guide the creation of your sales force

In our last two posts, we have been talking about the challenge of finding rare disease patients in the orphan drug industry.  We have discussed technology available to address that problem, and that these data should be applied early in the research process so that sales and marketing plans can be shaped accordingly.

Today, I want to tell you about someone who did just that.

A Chief Commercial Officer was faced with a significant challenge: a market that was not fully penetrated, and a declining new prescription trend line.  The sales force was frustrated because they could not identify new patients. As a result, they were not performing well against their incentive compensation plan.  Also, the investor community was disappointed because the company was not meeting its expectations.

To address these challenges, the CCO hired Vencore Health for their patient-finder/patient journey/addressable market expertise.  The analysis revealed that patients were not only being seen by GI docs, but also primary care physicians.   He realized that patients who suffer from rare diseases with no treatment options will seek other medications to alleviate their symptoms.   Patients will see their primary care doctors to obtain these alternate meds.   The Vencore data -- in conjunction with data from patient registries -- helped the sales organization get a better understanding of who was caring for these patients.

Based on these new insights, operational changes needed to be made to the sales organization.   They had been calling on centers of excellence often, but not reaching far beyond that. The Vencore data indicated that the call model had to be modified to a more balanced reach and frequency approach. In order to implement these changes, the sales force was increased by 40%.  In addition, the core competency of the sales representative was modified.  Only people who were interested in a pay-for-performance model were hired.  “Pay for performance” was defined as 100% individual accountability in bonus and uncapped earning potential.  The new sales rep profile was that of a HUNTER. A documented history of outstanding selling performance was more important than experience in GI and orphan drug markets.

Vencore also provided this company with a heat map demonstrating where patients were located. This enabled the sales rep to visualize the key stakeholders in a geographic area and quickly access directions and contact information of the target offices. 

This was a significant change, but with the data analysis in hand he was able to obtain internal buy-in. These changes lead to two consecutive quarters of new prescription growth prior to an acquisition.

This CCO was able to change a sales force in response to the Vencore data; he is widely recognized as an innovator. Now that these analyses are available, why not use them before creating a sales force or marketing plan?

Tara Grabowsky, MD
Chief Medical Officer