Pharma Inside Sales, The Right Way


Inside Sales programs, when done right, can be an effective and economical way for pharmaceutical companies to achieve a specific goal (or goals).  A simple mantra for a successful program: Have the right team delivering the right message to the right HCPs the right number of times.

Of course, the “doing” is more complex than that. And partnering with the right service provider can mean the difference between success and failure. Here are a few tips for choosing and working with a provider who will help you achieve your goals:

Start with clarity of purpose. Maybe you have a message to convey about a formulary change or an expanded FDA approval.  Maybe you want to increase sample usage. Or maybe you want to supplement the efforts of your field sales force. Whatever your purpose, it’s crucial to know what success looks like and how it can be measured.

Expect recommendations.  In your RFP, outline the purpose of the program and ask for recommendations on how to achieve and measure success.  If what you get back from a potential provider is simply the “heads” needed and the costs, they will not be a strategic partner to you at any point in your program’s lifecycle.

Engage your provider in program design. Tap into your chosen provider’s experience to design a highly customized program that’s in sync with your overall goals. For example, if the program purpose is to launch a new product to hospitals, the inside sales reps should have knowledge about how purchasing decisions are made in that environment, and experience in navigating the hospital landscape to get to the decision-maker.

Look for rollout flexibility. Your service provider should be willing to conduct a pilot program; in fact, they should suggest it. As your provider knows (or should know), pilots provide valuable data and insights, allowing for needed program modifications and ensuring an intelligent rollout.

Expect actionable data, routinely delivered.  Your service provider should have the technology and reporting capabilities to provide key data that measures the success of the program and leads to program improvements. And while “numbers” (successful contacts, ratio of successful vs. non-successful contacts, cost per successful contact etc.) are critical, so too are insights that come from other sources, such as verbatims collected from the customer and trends identified by the inside sales reps.

Anticipate changes. Even with perfect planning, it’s highly likely that changes will be needed along the way to maximize the effectiveness of your program. If your service provider is a true partner, they will proactively offer clearly thought-out and data-supported suggestions for improvement. This should be both welcomed and expected; the need for tweaks (or even more substantial changes) is recognition that the data is conveying challenges that must be addressed.

One final note:  An inside sales program is not always the right solution.  A good service provider will tell you when it’s not, and will offer alternatives. For example, having an inside sales team try to contact heart surgeons with a detailing message is not a good idea, but providing valuable information to their support staff could very well be.

Founded by Life Science industry veterans Mary Anne Greenberg and Ron Abel, Diligent Health Solutions provides biopharma companies with a broad range of solutions and services, including patient engagement programs, medical information, creation of health information content, medical device support, telephone-based pharmaceutical sales, and product recall support.  You can reach Mary Anne and Ron at or (267) 768 7191.