CASE STUDY

Empowering Pharmaceutical Representatives to Capitalize on New Indications

pharmacist looks at medication packaging
Close-up medical syringe with a vaccine.
Table Of Contents

Introduction

A new indication for a drug can present a significant opportunity for a pharmaceutical company to expand its market reach, improve patient outcomes, and drive sales growth. However, successfully launching a drug for a new indication requires a well-prepared and knowledgeable sales team that can effectively engage with healthcare providers (HCPs) and communicate the value of the drug for the new application area.

Our client, a leading US-based pharmaceutical company, recognized the potential of a new indication for one of its existing drugs. To capitalize on this opportunity, the company needed to ensure that its sales team was equipped with the necessary knowledge, skills, and confidence to communicate the value of this drug with HCPs and drive adoption in the new application area.

Challenges

The key challenges the pharmaceutical company faced were:

  • Effectively preparing the sales team to discuss the new drug indication with HCPs
    The sales team needed to quickly gain a deep understanding of the new indication, including the relevant medical conditions, the drug’s mechanism of action, benefits, risks, and how to best communicate this complex information to HCPs. Without a solid grasp of the new indication, the sales team would struggle to engage in meaningful dialogues with HCPs and drive adoption.
  • Driving increased HCP engagement
    The sales team had to capture the attention and interest of HCPs who may not have been previously targeted, as well as establish new contact with existing customers who are only prescribing the drug for its previous indication. Each of these scenarios required the sales team to craft unique and compelling messages, handle objections, and build trust to foster productive relationships and adoption of the new indication.
  • Enabling the sales team to identify new opportunities for the drug
    Identifying new opportunities meant the sales team needed to think strategically about which HCPs to target, how the drug could fit into the HCP’s current treatment paradigms, and how to position the drug’s value for the new indication. Without these skills, the sales team might miss crucial opportunities to drive adoption.
  • Measuring the business impact
    One of the key challenges the pharma company sought was a way to measure the business impact of the initiative. This included establishing a clear link between the solution and the desired outcomes, which meant isolating the effect of the solution from other variables that could influence sales performance, such as market conditions, competitor activities, and promotional efforts.

Solution

Building on the trust and success of previous sales performance projects, this client engaged long-time partner Performance Development Group (PDG) to help them prepare their sales team for success in selling this new drug indication.

PDG began with internal interviews, analyzing existing data to understand the processes that were working, and identify the performance gaps. Based on the findings, PDG created a strategic roadmap that included:

  • A sales team and leadership skills gap analysis
  • An implementation plan 
  • A measurement strategy to track business impact

The new sales solution was designed to create more valuable dialogue and engagement between the sales rep and HCPs.

male pharmacist speaking with female customer

“The new sales solution was designed to create more valuable dialogue and engagement between the sales rep and HCPs.”

First-line manager

Content Refinement:

Content was a crucial component of the solution. Short, focused modules were designed to deliver key information in an easily digestible format, enabling the sales team to quickly grasp and retain essential knowledge.

The new program assets covered the clinical profile of the relevant medical conditions, the drug’s mechanism of action, its benefits and risks, and strategies for engaging with HCPs. Complex information was reduced to bite-sized pieces, making it easier for the sales team to absorb and apply the information in a more meaningful way in their daily interactions with HCPs.

Knowledge Reinforcement:

Reinforcement questions were embedded throughout the learning journey to ensure the sales team was able to recall the information over time. This reinforcement allowed reps to check their understanding of the new drug and identify areas where they needed more clarification or support.

The reinforcement questions were presented using real-world scenarios to help solidify their knowledge and develop the confidence needed to handle various situations effectively.

Putting it Into Practice:

The sales team was given the opportunity to apply their knowledge and skills in a practice environment. These activities included peer role-play sessions and group discussions. During practice sessions, reps might be asked to deliver key messages about the drug’s benefits and address common objections from HCPs. These sessions were key to developing the skills and confidence needed to effectively engage with HCPs and drive adoption.

Coaching Reinforcement:

Coaching is critical to provide ongoing support and guidance to the sales team for improved performance. Coaching sessions were facilitated by experienced sales leaders who offered valuable insights, feedback, and encouragement to help sales reps refine their approach.

During these coaching sessions, sales leaders would review the progress of individual team members, discuss any challenges, and provide targeted advice and support to help them overcome obstacles. The coaches would also help sales representatives refine their messaging, handle objections, and improve relationship-building skills.

The coaching practice put in a needed layer of accountability to help leaders develop their coaching skills, gain a deeper understanding of their team’s strengths and weaknesses, and identify opportunities for further improvement and growth.

“Coaching sessions were facilitated by experienced sales leaders who offered valuable insights, feedback, and encouragement to help sales reps refine their approach.”

Results

Leading Indicators

Knowledge Growth: The solution enabled our client’s sales team to significantly increase their knowledge and capabilities related to the new drug indication. Overall, the initiative achieved an impressive 25% increase in knowledge growth, surpassing the client’s target of 15%.

By measuring the knowledge uplift, or delta between the baseline knowledge and knowledge upon completion of each sprint, the pharmaceutical company had clear data showing the growth in the sales team’s understanding of the new topics. Achieving a 25% knowledge gain gave the business confidence that the team was well-prepared to effectively discuss the new indications with HCPs.

Behavior Change: Through observations and feedback from sales leaders, PDG and the pharma company’s sales leaders tracked how the sales team’s behaviors evolved. This included monitoring the sales reps’ adoption of new selling techniques, the quality of HCP interactions, and their ability to identify and capitalize on new opportunities. Positive behavior changes were noted and are a leading indicator that the solution is translating into improved performance.

25% Knowledge Growth Means Field is Prepared to Effectively Engage HCPs.

Sustained, Positive Behavior Change Leads to Increase in Performance.

Lagging Indicators

Prescription Volume: The ultimate goal of the initiative was to drive adoption of the drug for the new indication. To measure this, the company is closely tracking the number of prescriptions written by HCPs for the new indication. An increase in prescription volume is a clear lagging indicator that the sales team’s efforts are making an impact.

Market Share: The pharmaceutical company is also monitoring the drug’s market share within the new indication. Gaining market share was a strong signal that the sales team was effectively positioning the drug against competitors and driving adoption among target HCPs.

In addition to the strong initial results achieved, PDG created a client-focused experience that exceeded expectations.  Our client’s team gave very positive feedback, saying:

“This group has been exceptional to work with. They do a great job of keeping the project on task, developing great useful, impactful content from what we provide. They are always available for a discussion and are excellent on partnering for solutions. And gently nudging when we are up against a timeline. I would fully recommend working with them.”

Director of marketing

PDG helped its pharma client successfully prepare their sales team to drive engagement and sales for a key drug in an important new indication. The 25% knowledge growth and behavior change leading indicators gave the business confidence that the sales team was ready to excel in capitalizing on this new market opportunity.

Working with the client’s existing selling model, PDG helped them maximize the potential of the new drug indication and strengthen their competitive position in the market.

Future Use

Looking ahead, the success of this initiative paves the way for similar performance-driving solutions to be implemented across other areas of the business. With a proven framework and measurable results, our client is well-equipped to continue driving sales excellence and capitalizing on new growth opportunities.

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