The tri-blog series delves into the need, challenges, and approaches to implementing an effective global segmentation & targeting strategy. The first part of the blog discusses the inherent challenges and why companies need a standardized approach and its benefits.
Personal promotion continues to be the primary marketing channel for most pharma companies. In the face of changing market realities like expanding channels of promotion, evolving customer dynamics, and access restrictions to Health Care Practitioners (HCPs), it is more crucial than ever to utilize this channel more effectively and efficiently.
The physicians’ expectation of the quality of engagements is also growing exponentially. According to a recent McKinsey survey1, personalized, relevant content and appropriate communication channels are priorities for physicians.
Many companies are employing a data-driven physician segmentation and targeting (S&T) strategy to identify critical customers, optimal interaction time and frequency, to maximize sales rep impact.
However, S&T strategies can vary widely across markets. For global companies, they can be drastically different even for the same product. Additionally, many of these strategies do not align with established best practices and continue to be cumbersome and painfully manual processes.
According to Axtria Commercial Excellence Survey 20172, a significant number of organizations do not follow a set cadence in sales planning and deployment processes.
“A standardized global strategy should be established based on industry benchmarks and company philosophy and implemented across global markets to maximize the impact of sales reps”
The HCP Segmentation and Targeting Process
A standardized S&T process allows a company to take a scientific, data-driven approach to delivering the right information to the doctors who need it most.
The typical process for a single market is summarized into the following five activities:
Exhibit 1: Standard Segmentation & Targeting Process Flow
Globalizing this process requires expanding the scope of process considerations to include global strategy, local needs, and a ‘glocal’ implementation plan.
The above process steps must reflect a standardized approach to global segmentation and resource allocation across markets while maintaining local nuances required for individual market success. However, most life sciences markets struggle with accurate customer segmentation and resource allocation due to non-existent or limited HCP-level data. Customer profiling is required as an alternative to enable this process.
The identified physician S&T system should include a structured approach and remaining flexible enough to accommodate necessary deviations including limited market resources, local legal restrictions, or varying granularity of data. Additionally, products may be in different lifecycle stages in different markets and therefore have differing brand strategies.
“Balancing the needs of all stakeholders may be challenging but essential. A rigid S&T process that forces all markets to adopt the same strategy may do more harm than good and will likely see poor reception and adoption rates from local teams”
Why Go for a Global Segmentation & Targeting Strategy?
Standardizing the S&T process across markets ensures global alignment with best practices. It leads to a unified, clear brand presentation and consistent messaging with key benefits of maximized rep productivity and improved customer satisfaction.
Key customers are identified through the same standards globally and are provided consistent messaging (by product lifecycle), producing similar high-quality interactions across markets. Positive impact on customer experience and brand perception follow.
Creating a centralized process reduces administrative burden, cycle time and cost.
“Most executives report limited collaboration overall between global functions. On a scale of 1 to 7, where 7 means ‘extremely strong’ and 1 means ‘extremely limited’, collaboration on average is low with a mean rating of 4.3”
“Streamlining the process of identifying, connecting with and influencing key decision makers increases the likelihood of product success”
Global Segmentation & Targeting Process Challenges
While a global S&T process promises a significant upside, there exist many apparent hurdles.
At a high level, these can be categorized into people, process, and technology challenges. Many of these reflect our natural distaste for change, reinforced by the wide differences across markets and effort required for standardization.
Intelligent selection of a global customer S&T solution, which often includes a single technology at a global scale can greatly reduce or even eliminate these challenges. If not adequately addressed, these challenges can generate internal resistance to a global process.
- Resistance to change
- Transition from reliance on intuition to science
- Behavioral Changes
Unlearning and learning
- Fear of process intrusion and micromanagement
- Geographical inconsistencies in understanding
- Culture driven adoption of processes
- Alignment of objectives across drastically different markets
- Learning & adoption of new technology
- Global Implementation
- Differences in architecture and evolution across markets
- Lack of standardized tools and systems
Exhibit 2: People, Process, & Technology Challenges of a Global S&T Process
With a well-defined segmentation strategy facilitated using technology, many of these challenges can be addressed within the implementation plan itself.
Most markets struggle with accurate customer segmentation and resource allocation is due to lack of a standard S&T processes, disjointed systems within and across markets and brands. The same set of physicians are often assigned different customer values leading to significant downstream challenges. Manual processes can be slow, cost-intensive and error-prone. Additionally, many targeting processes do not account for field feedback, causing the process to become opaque and one-dimensional.
Implementing a standardized customer segmentation model facilitated by a global, enterprise-grade platform can resolve many of these challenges, and provide additional key benefits including reduced administrative burden, process transparency, accuracy and reliability.
Learn about the best practices for implementing a global S&T process and platform in the second part of this series.
2. Axtria Commercial Excellence Survey 2017: https://insights.axtria.com/industry-survey-report-on-state-of-commercial-excellence-2017-part-1
3. Global Commercial Operations Landscape, TGaS Advisors, Advisory Brief 2014