Pharmaceutical Drug Launches – Something Needs to Change

By Manish Sharma, CEO, TikaMobile

I came across this great article by Bain & Company, How to Make Your Drug Launch a Success, that had an alarming statistic: “Our research shows that nearly 50% of launches over the past eight years have underperformed analyst expectations, and more than 25% have failed to reach even 50% of external revenue forecasts.” We’re in the midst of a sea change in the life sciences industry and it’s being driven by a few trends, which include:

  • Competition is fierce. The Bain & Company article points out that, “the average window of time in which a drug remains on the market before competing products arrive has fallen to four years, down from eight years.”
  • Decision makers continue to shift. This includes the fact that some purchasing decisions now require multiple decision makers.
  • The industry is moving quickly. Information is getting stale faster than ever.

The Bain & Company article goes on to give some great advice for drug launches, which includes creating “broad customer advocacy via a superior customer experience,” “organizing drug launch as a micro-battle,” and creating a reliable feedback loop between frontline field sales reps and home office teams.

How can pharma companies adopt these practices? We’ve all heard the famous quote attributed to Albert Einstein: “The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.” Something needs to change.

As you develop a new launch strategy, question everything. The answer to the question, “Why do we do it that way?” should never be, “Because that’s the way we’ve always done it.” Everything needs to be questioned in order to uncover problem areas and root causes, and to then create a stellar product launch strategy.

For many organizations, a big challenge is getting people to work together. How can you break silos and get people to communicate better and work together? Many times, it comes down to incentives. Are the groups and people in your organization incentivized to execute on your latest and greatest product launch strategy? Or do their incentives keep them tethered to legacy processes? Once you develop your winning launch strategy, you must work on aligning everyone to it.

The right technology can drive this alignment. The life sciences industry has spent significantly on sales enablement technology, but those technologies tend to focus on satisfying regulatory requirements and otherwise just forcing reps to capture activities. They don’t provide the reps with any real value, they don’t unite the broader organization and they don’t increase the capacity of pharma companies to successfully execute their strategies.

The industry has been using the proverbial square peg to fit into the round hole. As we can see, it’s not working because the statistics for drug launches keep getting worse and worse.

At Tika, we are reimagining how a sales enablement program should operate and we designed our technology to work hand-in-hand with that vision. As the Bain article points out, we strive to help our clients provide a superior customer experience. One of our key focal points is providing the sales rep with the most updated information available  – critical, timely, actionable business intelligence imported from multiple sources into our single platform. And we line that intelligence up with their accounts, targets, Key Opinion Leaders (KOLs), and other stakeholders. This information allows sales reps to be more prepared and also to make better decisions and become more strategic with their use of time. We have created something that’s different from most CRM tools, which are one-way streets – the reps just relunctantly and begrudgingly logging their activities.

This brings us to another important element that we factor in: the feedback loop. Our platform captures information from the reps – and also from other commercial silos – and shares it with the appropriate people and teams in real-time. Tika also creates alerts for follow-up actions for anyone using the app. Everyone stays connected and communicates better – in real-time – which results in better customer service and more revenue.

We also factor in people in the home office – Sales Managers, Marketing, Medical Affairs, Training, Market Access, etc. Managers receive more real-time information about their reps, including where the trouble spots are. They can better coach their reps and make more accurate forecasts based on their activity and feedback.

For Marketing, we made it easier to share the right materials with sales reps and managers. And we made it easier for Marketing to receive feedback, which can be used to adjust positioning, messaging, collateral, etc. We must continue to break down the silos and share intelligence to drive the overall corporate strategy.

Lastly, we knew that we needed to make the tool visually appealing, interactive and easy-to-use. People need to want to use it, and they’ll want to use it if they gain benefit from it (i.e., all of the actionable information and business intelligence I previously discussed) and if it’s easy to use. There’s nothing worse than investing in a sales enablement tool that gets under-utilized. This is a big problem area in the industry. We addressed this with a mobile-first and user-friendly design. So much is available and accomplished through a swipe of the finger. Our clients’ average utilization rate is 92%.

This is the future. A new strategic approach and better sales enablement technology to address these drug launch issues that we’re seeing in the life science industry. Let’s stop the insanity. Let’s make it easier for field sales reps, sales managers, Marketing, Market Access, Training, Medical Affairs, and everyone on the drug launch team to provide that superior customer experience and execute a reimagined drug launch strategy.

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