Implementing a successful global market segmentation & targeting strategy

    5 mins read

    This tri-blog series delves into the need, challenges, requisites and approaches to implementing an effective global segmentation & targeting (S&T) strategy in the life sciences industry. The upside of a standardized S&T strategy has been discussed in detail in the first blog of this series. This second blog focusses on the components of a global S&T strategy needed for its success and dives into some best practices for implementation.

    Standardization of a HCP Segmentation & Targeting strategy

    Standardization of a physician S&T strategy maximizes sales rep productivity and lets the sales force focus on delivering value to enhance the customer experience. It provides a unified brand message to the customer ensuring consistent, quality interactions across markets and drives competitive advantage while bringing down cost and cycle time.

    According to a global study1, use of advanced analytics can increase operational efficiencies by 15 to 30 percent of EBITDA (Earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortization) over five years, accelerating to 45 to 70 percent over a decade.

    To be truly efficient, the HCP targeting process should expedite the completion of sales cycle planning with limited support & training and accommodate different market and brand strategies with ease. However, the struggle to implement a global segmentation strategy that is locally flexible is, to say the least, very real. Several people, process, and technology challenges must be addressed when marrying global requirements with the local market and brand needs.

    The process of aligning the stakeholders and goal setting must be complemented by a right platform that meets the business needs. A standardized platform that is reliable and delivers this new process seamlessly across the organization is a must for the real success of the S&T implementation.

    An enterprise-grade platform can resolve the hurdles of a global execution by providing the flexibility to adjust based on local market insights. It helps deliver better collaboration and transparency within a market and across global teams.

    In times of tighter budgets and demand for faster ROI, the most cost and time efficient method to assess ground realities of a global S&T process rollout is undertaking a pilot. A pilot provides valuable lessons into the unforeseeable challenges of a global implementation and helps limit risks. It is a window into the success measures.

    Most strategies fail to deliver on expectations when the leadership isn’t committed to the change. A pilot allows the leadership to see in action the benefits and even convince the fence-sitters to take the plunge.

    A typical approach to a pilot program must involve:

    • Identification of the most representative pilot markets
      • Select market/s representative of global markets
      • Identify drivers and barriers
      • Create segment profiles and action plans
      • Estimate customer value and select targets
      • Consolidate redundant process and disparate systems
      • Deploy platform
    • Study of the pilot markets
      • Analyze inputs from the pilot for a period of 2-3 months
      • Understand strategic and execution challenges, successes and failures
    • Refinement of global requirements based on pilot lessons
      • Create global requirements in parallel with pilot execution and analysis
      • Incorporate feedback into global process rollout plan
    • Defining standard global configuration models
      • Build global guidelines, with local market nuances outlined for each
      • Determine the required levels of platform customization

    foreign-linkLearn More - Machine Learning (ML) Driven Segmentation & Targeting Of Physicians

    Preparing for Global Implementation

    Once a pilot has been conducted, it is critical that guidelines for global implementation be defined to ensure a well-planned deployment.

    Establishing a truly global process need not be a daunting challenge, though institutionalizing a process at an organizational level calls for a mindset overhaul. Taking cognizance of the people aspect and balancing the needs of all stakeholders will ensure a smooth implementation across the organization.

    Systematically managing the task and taking a multi-step approach will bring in the necessary clarity essential to unifying various requirements, processes and technologies.

    According to Axtria Commercial Excellence Survey 2017, commercial organizations are stuck with disparate legacy systems built on outdated technologies that create bottlenecks.

    There are certain key aspects essential for a successful global S&T implementation, including:

    • Fostering ownership so that the segmentation is internalized throughout the organization:
      • Formulating a multi-faceted core global team representative of the various markets
      • Aligning common objectives with expertise, market insights and institutional knowledge beyond what is available from the data
      • Driving collaboration by bringing together global business and IT stakeholders
    • Putting together a system integration strategy to enable cyclic planning and manage ongoing or mid-cycle changes:
      • Reviewing various datasets, including HCP-level data, cycle plans data, market share, etc. to manage the varying granularity of data
      • Using all relevant existing information about the customer segment: Market research, secondary data, field anecdotes, industry reports, etc.
      • Developing business rules for targeting and call frequency by segments for all products
      • Making the call plan available for the reps to view and edit, with caveats based on territory and business rules
    • Preparing an effective training & communications plan
      • Training the teams to use the new data-driven call plan (this could mean a significant cultural change for some markets)
      • Documenting all business rules, analysis and data fields used
      • Calendarizing communication and updates on the implementation with all the stakeholders
      • Creating a report on all call frequencies / targeting for each brand and segment

    Visual: Summary of the platform requirements and the organizational benefit:

    Platform Features


    Customizable and interactive user interface

    High adoption amongst all stakeholders, simplified use of platform

    Global and business rules management capability

    Standardization across geographies for process guidance

    Transparency and availability of approval workflows

    Effective management of workflow to build credibility and trust  

    Process automation capability and responsiveness

    Efficiency through reducing cycle time by doing away with lesser productive work

    Compatible with various technologies and integration with legacy systems

    Lesser disruption to work, easier implementation  


    Deployment Approach to Global Segmentation Strategy

    There are three common approaches to deploying a physician S&T implementation, each with its own set of pros and cons.

    The Big Bang approach allows for the process to be launched across all markets simultaneously in a single go. It is time-saving and ensures faster speed to market, but on the downside, is a complex undertaking. It is a high-resource dependent engagement that requires the buy-in of all stakeholders. The cost of failure is high and deep.

    The Single Market approach tackles one market at a time. While it allows for a well-planned deployment with enough time and space to make ground-level improvements, it defeats the purpose of a standardized global implementation. It is also time-consuming and cost inefficient.

    Keeping a balance is the trick, which is best achieved with a mid-way approach that combines several markets and deploys the process is a phased manner. A Wave-wise approach identifies markets based on commonalities, including market complexities and sales cycle frequency and groups them into a set of archetypes. The process is then deployed to each of these clusters – one set at a time. This approach is time and cost-efficient and can be managed with less resources and oversight.


    Establishing a global, standardized segmentation process – and through it delivering more value to the customer – is going to be the key differentiator for life sciences companies. Since no two organizations are alike, customization is critical here. The maturity of an organization, the business need, and scale of business are factors that determine the right global S&T implementation. It takes a high degree of business, domain, and technology understanding to make the initiative an organization-wide success.

    Next: The last part of this tri-blog series will illustrate how the above steps and approaches were used to implement a global segmentation strategy for a large pharma company.

    Axtria SalesIQTM is an intelligent and adaptive Sales Performance Management platform with embedded analytics to support sophisticated go-to-market commercial models. Embracing all the cloud advantages, it provides an integrated suite of capabilities across Territory Alignment & Roster Management, Segmentation & Targeting, Multi-channel Interaction Planning, Incentive Compensation, Real-time Sales Triggers, and Field Reporting. Axtria SalesIQTM helps companies optimize the entire commercial planning & operations process with data-driven insights that drive field productivity and effectiveness.