How to Build a Successful Sales Team

Learning how to build a successful sales force is critical for every pharmaceutical company in order to achieve profits and win significant market shares. Without a profit generating sales team every company is destined to fail and be overtaken by competition. Therefore, all organizations who take themselves seriously must master the art of successful sales team building and sales force development.

In a broader context to build a successful sales force means not only to hire the right sales people but to implement a comprehensive strategy that will lead to superior sales force effectiveness as well. The pillars that sales effectiveness should be based on are:

  • Customer Loyalty
  • Outstanding Customer Experience
  • Growth not only of Market Shares but mainly of Profits.

So far almost every sales manager would agree that without any of the above, a growth of any kind is not sustainable and will eventually backfire either through loss generation or through an ever increasing amount of investment to preserve the same amount of sales volumes.

So the question that we need to answer is in what ways a pharmaceutical company can develop these three pillars of success. In order to build these pillars a company and its leaders must focus on the following:

  • Sales Strategy
  • Sales Force Design
  • Customer Engagement Process
  • Sales Force Motivation & Rewards
  • People and Skills Development.

The first element of success (i.e. Sales Strategy) has to do with targeting the right clients and offering them a high perceived value. Many organizations fail because they focus on the wrong clients and invest in inefficient prospecting that eventually makes them lose time and money. On the other hand every profitable company directs its sales efforts to clients that can bring high value to the organization and recurring sales. To focus on the right clients demands accurate prospect mapping and a well-established experience of the market.

The second element of success (that is Sales Force Design) has to do with the structure of the sales team and the way it is deployed on the field. Finding the optimal level of the sales force size is most of the times a tricky exercise. Many companies end up either with short-staffed or overstaffed sales teams. In the first case the company leaves money on the table and is vulnerable to competitors that choose to move faster and more decidedly. On the second case a company may gain significant market shares but its bottom line may prove to be less than optimal by a significant amount. Moreover Sales Force Design has to do not only with the size of the sales team but also with the way it is deployed. For example a team may be oversized, but so poorly arranged among territories that any hope of success will prove to be just an elusive expectation.

The third element that any organization must build upon is Customer Engagement Process. What is the call planning of the team?   How do customer relations advance? What process does a company follow in order to make its clients more engaged? In what ways does a sales rep interact with the assigned Health Care Professionals of his territory? These are just few of the questions that any sales organization must address in order to engage with its customers successfully.

An equally important pillar of success is Rewards and Motivation of the team. Firstly we have to be clear that the best way to build a highly motivated team is by selecting people that are motivated by their own. High achievers want to succeed because they ask the best of themselves no matter the bonus scheme and the reward system. Yet this doesn’t mean that a rewards system should not be in place. On the contrary, because it is usually very hard to build a team consisted only of self-motivated people, a bonus scheme should be such that will motivate the whole team to perform better and achieve higher sales. Additionally, a rewards system can help retain the best performing sales people in the company and rid of the less effective reps. Furthermore, it makes the sales team more performance focused and all of its members more accountable.

The fifth pillar of success is People and Skills Development. This doesn’t have to do only with the sales reps but with their managers as well. Every company that wants to build an effective sales force knows that an investment in its people through sales training seminars, role plays and good theoretical background is essential in order to grow and reach a higher level.

Building a successful sales force may sound a daunting task, especially for those organizations that have a limited or no experience to a particular medical specialty. However by not adopting the aforementioned steps every effort will end up either in failure or in suboptimal levels. It is therefore essential that every pharmaceutical company invests in its sales teams not only at the initial stages of recruiting but also during the whole “life-span” of the team.