Adapting for success: Understanding commercial optimisation

Adapting for success: Understanding commercial optimisation

How do you best align your field force with the changing landscape within the NHS? Oli Hudson, Content Director at Wilmington Healthcare, outlines the critical steps you should think about in order to optimise your resources for commercial success.


One of the most significant shifts we’re seeing in the NHS is the move away from the traditional dividing line between primary and secondary care. This means that organisational boundaries, in theory, should start to be blurred as the NHS embraces a more collaborative way of working built around collective decision-making led by networks of influencers.

This has some stark implications for the way pharmaceutical companies set themselves up to do business with the NHS. It accelerates a pre-existing trend towards refining and streamlining field forces and adopting a more strategic focus, with careful promotion to high-impact key opinion leaders (KOL), targeted engagement with formulary committees and so on.

But what does this mean in terms of how firms should reorganise their own people and processes to deal with the new ways of working across the NHS?

Specialist commercial optimisation support can help you dig down into the organisational issues that this new landscape creates in a way, and in this article I wanted to describe the key steps that can help you create an efficient sales force structure that is aligned and equipped to deal with the new realities in the NHS.

The first thing is to understand where your high earning accounts are likely to be in the short to medium term. This starts by undertaking multiple layers of analysis of your existing portfolios, you can develop a relative performance of each brand, benchmarking in terms of their return on investment and identifying which brands require significant improvement.

The second consideration is where are the opportunities for growth. This means understanding which are the most likely areas to adopt, use and diffuse your products within a system or network. Where are the ‘game changer’ areas that are up for remodelling care pathways, that have assigned budgets and made your disease areas a priority?

The third step, based on this analysis, is a process of re-organising your resources to align with the target segments and territories you’ve prioritised. This involves thinking about how you organise your field force to map effectively at a system-level, and also down into relevant contact points within provider organisations.

And the final step is the development of more detailed engagement and bespoke call planning strategies, the evaluation of the effectiveness of promotional support, as well as advice on training and performance management. In other words, ensuring sales teams are equipped with the information, resources and direction they need to succeed.

Actionable insights

What should come out of this process is a range of actionable insights and a clear road map to optimise the resources available to you. You should be able to see what types of promotional support work, how your product portfolios should be organised and what the optimal activity patterns were.

This analysis should also expose any misalignment between the amount of effort you’re putting into a particular activity and the value you’re extracting (or forecasting) for a particular therapy area, allowing you to adjust the targeting strategy or realign resources and plans to achieve objectives.

Most important of all, it provides you with the evidence base to make long term decisions about the shape and size of your field force, built upon an understanding of what the most important and productive clinical relationships are for each of your brands and how your structure can best service the new customer landscape within the NHS.

Commercial optimisation can be transformative for pharmaceutical companies’ bottom line. We’ve achieved double-digit savings for sales departments by bearing down on duplicated efforts, refocusing spend to achieve the greatest impact and creating new and more effective territory mapping.

Crucially too, this is an investment in your organisation’s future by making sure the way you connect with your customers is reconfigured to match the way the reformed NHS will be structured and run from now on. Remember that these are realities from which no commercial organisation that does business with the NHS can escape – and the time to act is now.

On 21 October, Wilmington Healthcare will be hosting an in-depth webinar on the post-COVID healthcare sales environment. To sign up, go to wilmingtonhealthcare.com/post-covid-healthcare-sales-environment/