Accenture characterizes the "New Normal" in pharma sales/marketing

May 2, 2013
Pharmaceutical Commerce, Pharmaceutical Commerce - May/June 2013,

More emphasis on digital technologies and overall cost reduction are on the wish list

Based on a survey of 200 executives at big (>$1 billion) pharma companies operating in the US, Accenture (New York) finds confirmation of some well-recognized trends—a move toward digital promotion and nonpersonal sales; establishing multichannel marketing programs; and increased capabilities in analytics. But the dominant trend, arguably, is cost reduction: accomplishing all these goals while reducing the expense of sales and marketing efforts.

“Progressive life sciences companies are seeking new commercial models where operational activities such as multichannel campaign management, digital content production, product launch management and campaign performance analysis are handled by external parties,” said Craig Robertson, North American managing director of Accenture’s Life Sciences’ Sales and Marketing practice, in a statement. “This can enable their resources to better focus on understanding their customers and defining unique ways to serve them to drive strategic differentiation.”

When asked to rate their organizations’ performance today, respondents showed the most significant dissatisfaction with sales itself, rated “not very good… and needs an overhaul” by 36% of them. They rated marketing itself as “okay” by a 40% proportion. “Commercial operations and support” were rated “okay” at a 36% level.

The survey results (Tables) show a pronounced emphasis on digital technologies. Multichannel marketing means different things to different people, but overall it suggests methods to combine what occurs in one channel—face-to-face sales, for example—with others, such as online promotional campaigns. Analytics is the “glue” that brings these results together in meaningful ways during the course of a marketing campaign.

The survey also looked into how receptive pharma companies are to employing third-party providers (which, obviously, would include Accenture itself). The highest-rated function where outside help will be sought was analytics, followed closely by “general advertising” and “digital and content production.”