By – Varun Lakshmanan. It’s a well-known fact that execution is the key to success for any strategy. Board rooms and corporate meetings can produce the best strategy and roadmaps; however, what differentiates the successful ones is the quality of execution.
When we talk about implementing a marketing or sales strategy, especially in large pharmaceutical organizations, analyzing a factor that I call the “Evaporation Index” is very important. I define Evaporation index as the loss of impact (in %) when a strategy is cascaded from top to bottom for execution. In simple terms, it is the difference between the intended effect and the actual impact achieved.
As a pharmaceutical marketing strategy or initiative reaches the execution phase, its impact is significantly reduced due to various factors. Evaporation or leakage occurs at each stage of the cascading process, most commonly a function of the complex layers in organizations. It is essential to identify and plug leakage points to reduce the evaporation and achieve the desired sales impact.
Some of the critical success factors to ensure excellence in execution and minimize evaporation are –
1. Test the waters before diving deep – It is imperative to validate assumptions and pilot concepts before finalizing them for execution. This process can significantly help in clearing execution hurdles for pharmaceutical marketers. For example, piloting a new model of HCP-engagement in a small group of territories before launching it can help in tweaking the strategy to suit the HCP’s needs.
2. Effective communication – There must be clear communication to the field-force, be it sales or operational teams. People will not be able to execute to the fullest until they are convinced that the strategy would add value to their results. They should be allowed to challenge and understand the strategy entirely instead of being pushed to execute. A pharmaceutical sales role isn’t merely technical. It involves interacting and influencing customers, making it even more critical for the sales representative to be very confident of the strategy and his execution.
3. Enough time for preparation– Most strategies fail to owe to a hasty and haphazard execution. Sales teams must be given enough time and training to prepare for implementation. Disproportionate allocation of time to the framing of the strategy in comparison to execution is a recipe for disaster in pharmaceutical marketing. Quick execution merely for the sake of hitting the ground with a strategy would only further increase evaporation.
4. Clear and measurable KPI’s for execution – KPI’s shouldn’t be merely targets for pharma marketers and sales reps; they should drive desired behavior and performance. KPI’s should be measured and tracked on time, to be used as tools supporting execution rather than a mere control mechanism.
5. Modifying or adapting the strategy based on realities – It is vital to be agile in execution and adjust to market dynamics and customer needs. No strategy is a write up on the wall. Pharmaceutical organizations must be flexible enough to learn and modify strategies during the execution journey. Hence feedback is critical, strategies can fail, and there should be no stigma in accepting it and moving on. This would only make the executors feel a part of the strategy rather than mere warriors who are battling it out in the pharmaceutical market.
Hence “Evaporation Index “is a key success factor for the quality execution of strategies in the pharmaceutical world. It is important to measure it through relevant qualitative and quantitative parameters or indicators at each stage of the cascading process until it reaches execution, lower the “EI” higher the success. Precise mapping of leakage points can help in improving the process for future strategies and projects. It is healthy for organizations to set “EI” targets for marketing strategies and the organization and carefully follow up on the same.
“Let us minimize evaporation and maximize execution.”