How Activity Planning Is Fueling Customer Centricity in Biopharma

Mike Powers, Principal

Activity planning is moving beyond just thinking about reach and frequency, and thinking about who should I target, and how many calls should I deliver to those customers.

We're seeing the health-care provider model changing dramatically with consolidation of providers, and even integration between payers and providers. All of that is having a major impact on how our clients in the pharma industry are creating their activity plans.

In the past, the typical call plan would focus on individual physicians: Which physicians do I want to target? Which products do I want to talk about? How many times do I want to visit those physicians?

Now it's becoming much more about the account. These accounts are complex. They have many different stakeholders who have many different preferences and needs, and we need to be able to address all of them. And they're making different types of decisions.

So it's no longer just about planning specifically tactical activities, but moving beyond that and discussing and identifying objectives that I want to achieve with this account.

There are more influencers than just the physician, and so we need to create activity plans that account for both the physician as well as other stakeholders within the account, whether those be administrators, or treatment team members, nurses, et cetera. Having a good understanding of how I want to spend my time in the account across all of those stakeholders is becoming increasingly important within the industry.

How does activity planning help biopharma companies become more customer centric?

According to ZS's AccessMonitor, over half of physicians in the U.S. have moderate to severe access restrictions. This, combined with changing customer preferences towards digital channels and alternate channels of information beyond just the sales representative, is leading towards a much more multi-channel, customer-centric approach to sales and marketing within the pharmaceutical industry.

And as part of this, developing multi-channel activity plans is becoming more and more popular among our pharmaceutical clients.

This need to identify, from a customer perspective, how do we want to provide our information to them—how do we want to target them across our various sales and marketing channels to make sure that they're very coordinated and work in conjunction with each other, so that they don't actually make the access environment even worse by flooding our customers with too much information across too many channels.

All of these trends that we've been talking about and seeing are related to becoming more customer centric, whether it be thinking of our customers as accounts and the different stakeholders within accounts, or thinking about the various preferences that our customers have in terms of receiving information via different channels beyond just face-to-face [contact] with the sales rep.

Clearly, there's this customer centricity, from a strategic perspective, that our clients are trending towards.

And the ones that are able to translate the customer-centric strategy via an activity planning process into execution are seeing the most benefits—increased buy-in from the field, higher engagement with our customers. We're definitely seeing those trends with our clients that are moving in this direction.