Sales Force Automation– What to look for in Software Applications in 2018

in Editors' Picks/Pharmaceutical Articles

SFE or Sales Force Effectiveness is gaining new ground this year as Pharmaceutical companies strive to improve productivity and hence efficiency of the sales team. In the Bangladeshi Pharmaceutical industry, we see a lot of new steps that Pharmaceutical companies may take to find ways of trying to improve efficiency through SFE solutions. This article highlights from our perspective on what to watch out for in 2018.

Closed Loop Marketing

There is renewed interest among Pharmaceutical companies in understanding customers (doctors) and this will continue to be the focus for these years with even greater emphasis. A lot of Bangladeshi Pharmaceutical companies are expected to go down this lane by using E detailing as the medium to give interesting and interactive content to the doctors and use that to understand doctor’s interests and feedback.

Let us go back to basics and understand what Closed Loop marketing is all about.

CLM is a way of redefining customer interaction between a sales person and the HCP. Through this interaction the sales person tries to gain insights on the interests of the doctor which is then fed back to  marketing and brand management teams who help him/her define more personalized content and information for that HCP to subsequently to improve customer interaction. This process over time improves both sales and marketing effectiveness.

Figure 1: Closed Loop Marketing in Pharmaceutical
Figure 1: Closed Loop Marketing in Pharmaceutical

Though we need to achieve full CLM, Pharmaceutical companies still need some level of maturity in the current processes – companies are still keen to implement E Detailing as a starting point to get doctor’s interest and eventually upgrade to complex analytics to analyze all the data points captured through E Detailing to achieve more effective CLM.

Companies should remember the following 3 key things to achieve CLM

Figure 2: Key Things to Achieve CLM
Figure 2: Key Things to Achieve CLM

Empower First Line Sales Manager

Pharmaceutical companies are starting to realize that with all the automation that they do still focuses on medical reps efforts and how a manager can bring in the required efficiency in his team has been not been the focal point. We see this changing now and believe that 2018 will see manager empowerment – in turn enabling the medical reps to do better. Some of the points that companies expect from the SFE solutions are:

  1. Sales target v/s achievement percentage that can be drilled down to Medical rep level so that the manager knows how each of his medical rep is performing. Analyzing how close or how far the team is from their target may also enable the manager to drill down and allocate the remainder percentage of achievement among his team judiciously.
  2. Call efforts by the medical rep are worth analyzing – call average, call frequency, call plan v/s his actual – this will give an idea on where the MRs time is going. These can be short term analysis that can be viewed on a weekly basis, to enable the manager to correct anything that the medical rep is lacking on.
  3. Actions taken to help the medical reps have to be recorded for follow-up, and ensuring execution.
  4. A good solution will guide the FLSM in allocating the right time in joint work, to the right MR s, and also help in providing the most appropriate coaching and training inputs.

Effort v/s Results

Most of the Sales force effectiveness applications focus on capturing all effort related parameters from all angles. What is missing is correlation between these efforts to the results that the sales team gets. For any Pharmaceutical company three results parameters important to be measured are:

  1. Primary Sales
  2. Commercial & Engagement Metrics
  3. Doctor prescriptions

Primary Sales

Primary sales is normally captured in the ERP solution. Some of the companies set targets on the basis of Primary Data, hence mapping this data onto a CRM platform will help the MR track where he/she is in terms of sales achievement.

Commercial & Engagement Metrics

While primary sales & Doctor prescription data can be directly linked to effort. There are surrogate KPIs like (1) Customized content rating (2) Engagement loop etc. can be captured by an advanced software platform. Specialty divisions using tablets or i-pads for e-detailing can also capture engagement patterns at various levels.

Doctor Prescription data

In Bangladesh, this data enables the company to track the prescription of its brands versus its competitor brands at any given point of time.

All the three parameters when associated with effort parameters give the true measure of the sales team. This interlinking and co comparison will become very important going forward as face time with doctors is on a significant decline and companies want to achieve more sales with less effort.

Social Media Integration

With more and more customers opting for social media as a channel to make conversation, it becomes very important for firms to tap into social channels as a way to reach out to their customers. Integrating these platforms into SFE gives companies supreme competitive advantage providing them control over perception creation about the brand and customer service.  This can have the following advantages –

  • Mitigation of adverse effects from negative customer feedback by being more proactive in responses
  • Easy monitoring of social trends and customer behaviour
  • Effective reach out to opinion leaders
  • Constant feedback from customers, hence easy to progressively shift to value delivery processes
Figure 3: Where do we want to drive our data insights?
Figure 3: Where do we want to drive our data insights?

Though the lines on Compliance and Regulatory are not too clearly defined yet for Social media usage – more and more Pharmaceutical companies are looking forward to experiment, listen to their customers and react to their needs through this platform integration.


With the continuously evolving and dynamic environment it is important that technology partners also keep up with the pace of the industry and offer complete solutions to address challenges that the Pharmaceutical and medical device industry may be facing. This will help in streamlining all the sales and marketing processes at any given point of time and provide useful inputs to the top management for decision making.

About the Authors

  • Arupendra Das is the Lead Consultant for ICA which is a Pharma consulting firm in Bangladesh. He has accomplished sales & marketing professional with exposure in Pharmaceutical, Medical Devices, and Medical Nutrition segment. His areas of interest; Multi-channel marketing, Salesforce design, Product Portfolio restructuring. He can be reached at
  • Krishnamurthy is the CEO of VSM Software P ltd., a leading provider of software solutions for the Pharma industry in the region. He is keenly interested in CRM and automation software for the industry.

About KEA [The Sponsor of this Article]

KEA is an industry-specific CRM/Sales Force Effectiveness (SFE) product – used by Sales force and Sales/Product/ Marketing teams of the global Pharma and Medical Devices industry. KEA has been in use in many large multinational and Indian pharma companies. Currently, we have over 10000 users across multiple clients using some or all KEA modules. With KEA – we aim to be a one- stop solution for the sales force and marketing functions of the pharmaceutical and medical devices industry. KEA is a product from VSM Software (P) Ltd.

Our CRM products are built to provide.

  • A robust platform to capture all the sales and marketing effort put in by the teams
  • Collaboration capability
  • State of the art features such as E-detailing
  • Insight into, not just effort parameters, but has also results achieved by the sales teams

VSM Software Pvt Ltd India

KEA helps in digital customer engagement through e-Detailing and other strong features. KEA helps in managing and monitoring all support activities, such as CMEs, Coaching and e-Learning. KEA-CRM comes with power packed features with good credentials and track record.

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