Executing an effective commercial success strategy requires extensive planning and implementation within pharmaceutical companies that spans teams, functions, and geographies. Together, these groups compile vast amounts of data, including rich information on patient populations, target customers, and the competitive landscape. But after months of effort, in most cases, the usefulness of this data begins and ends in a static slide deck or spreadsheet.
Such scattered information is commonplace among brand teams; insights may be stored in various files and folders, which prevents collaboration and hinders teams from creating optimal brand strategies. Apart from manual transfers of documents between colleagues, the data is relegated to one’s hard drive and can’t be queried at scale to evaluate performance or to inform future projects.
How can we take an innovative approach to drive commercial success across the pharmaceutical industry? How can we maximise marketing, sales, medical, access, and other teams’ efforts while making their jobs easier?
To be most effective, key commercial excellence data must live in a cloud-accessible database. With knowledge across the full portfolio of a pharmaceutical company’s commercial and scientific strategies stored in one secured location, teams can leverage the information to inform analytical approaches to a brand strategy, and decision makers can interrogate the data to inform strategic decisions going forward.
In my experience working on global biopharma brands, commercial success is built on collaboration and solid basics. For example, the team must understand the competition well, coordinate global and local efforts, and have a strong grasp on what to prioritise. Especially given different stakeholders within companies continue to work in silos, a centralised database of actionable information simplifies the essential elements of brand strategy to better equip pharmaceutical organisations for success.
After years of navigating non-scalable pharma processes, I founded PurpleLeaf Strategy to introduce our take on a solution: Enavia, a commercial excellence suite that’s built in the cloud. Our goal with Enavia is to help pharma companies achieve global and local commercial excellence and alleviate the common pain points associated with the pharma brand lifecycle.
The following building blocks of pharmaceutical commercial success, ripe for innovation and improvement, have been our first points of focus as we strive to evolve brand planning and refine strategy and tactical plan development.
Truly understanding the competitive landscape and market environment
To achieve commercial success for a product, it’s important to know your market: Who are your customers? Who are your competitors? What other products already exist in this disease space, and, critically, how well do your customers perceive your offering compared to the competition?
Conducting a competitive analysis can be as simple or complex as you desire, depending on the amount of data you have available. Simply come up with a list of relevant attributes and rank how your brand stacks up against others in the market. Answering these questions will help you build the foundation of your commercial strategy, but, to be effective, biopharma organisations must be sure to derive the right conclusions from the analysis. This often starts with structuring information in an effective way, then cascading the knowledge across relevant teams.
Historically, competitive and market analysis data has been stored in spreadsheets. Not only is this approach clunky for users, but it can also pose a version control challenge; for example, when shared across teams, files may be modified to reflect a constantly evolving market landscape. Therefore, the source file or latest version may be difficult to identify, and the cumbersome process can hamper progress.
Tools exist to streamline and automate competitive analyses, making sure that brand teams receive the insights needed to understand where to allocate resources toward advancing their market position. Using a cloud-based data infrastructure to conduct these projects is the most effective way to generate, store, and disseminate information. Proper organisation removes access barriers and enables better insights to be generated from the data. From there, new evidence can help improve strategic decisions to move you ahead of the competition.
Leveraging technology to navigate external factors that impact commercial success
Commercial strategies may be planned at the global level, but they’re executed in local markets. As a result, several external factors may contribute to how a product or brand is perceived in each region – including the political, economic, social, and technological considerations that are assessed in a PEST analysis. It’s critical that teams take the time to understand these and other factors that may affect their brand positioning relative to competitors. This requires extensive planning; such wide-ranging analyses take years to orchestrate and include countless data sources. Historically, these insights have been hosted in simple presentation slides, but they haven’t proven helpful in impacting brand strategy decisions.
Biopharma companies need not waste resources when allocating their brand resources. By establishing a thorough understanding of the competition, brand teams can develop effective commercial strategies that will have the greatest impact. Technology systems enable brand teams to analyse a range of data on how other therapies, policies, or even government reforms will affect a product in the future. Such insights can be mapped in a calendar view for them to visualise drivers and potential barriers to success.
Commercial excellence requires thoughtful planning. Well-organised and dashboard-configured commercial data helps pharmaceutical companies deploy resources in an informed way, reducing the administrative burden while reaching useful insights.
Harnessing data to understand the patient journey
Maximising benefit for patients is a core goal of every commercial strategy in pharma. During commercial planning stages, teams compile hundreds of thousands of data points to inform their strategy, the most important of these being data on patients’ journeys. It’s critical for pharma organisations to understand individuals’ interactions with the healthcare system, and how those affect health outcomes. However, this data can vary in quality and format, making it difficult for teams to combine and analyse. Pharmaceutical companies must find ways to overcome these inconsistencies in order to carry out a data-informed launch strategy.
Hosting data in a cloud-based platform provides the structure needed to ensure data is compatible for analyses. For example, when reviewing the ways a patient experiences care, a database of consistently organised information can be queried to answer the key questions a team must consider to unlock the motivations for clinical action at each stage of a patient’s journey.
As with all aspects of a brand’s commercial strategy, there is no one-size-fits-all solution; different pharmaceutical companies, therapeutic areas, geographies, and markets require unique strategies to achieve commercial success. But by simplifying the basic elements of strategic decision-making and offering a structured process for data entry and analysis, we can ensure teams draw the right insights from the data to inform a strong commercial strategy and bring innovative therapies to market.
Building the infrastructure for successful commercial strategy implementation
We often see that pharma clients with products in market believe they have the full picture on the market landscape, including on the patients and healthcare professionals they seek to benefit. While blockbuster products launched by large, “top five” pharma companies do receive the resources needed to analyse market data about their environment, the conclusions drawn from that data may not always lead to the right actions to increase their probability of success. There’s much room for improvement in the basics of data storage, sharing, and analysis to illuminate the customer experience and market landscape. By understanding all the drivers of and barriers to success, we can have a chance at achieving commercial excellence and, ultimately, benefitting patients.
With the proper technology tools in place today, pharmaceutical organisations are better prepared for the next wave of innovation. For example, as artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning-informed commercial success stories gain traction, companies with high-quality data infrastructures in place will be equipped to implement AI models faster. Such preparation will be key to advancing ahead of the competition.
About the author
Daniel Kohlstaedt is founder and managing director of PurpleLeaf Strategy, and has over 17 years extensive experience in commercial excellence and global marketing implementation, and is an expert in global roll-out.
About Purple Leaf Strategy
At PurpleLeaf Strategy we strive to help Pharma and Biotech businesses achieve their commercial goals through our cloud-based platform, Enavia. Through structured cloud-based systems, Enavia guides teams through brand strategy development and execution on many fronts. Automated data collection and sharing, analytics through modular tools, and planning & execution through interrogative exercises help business in their go-to-market strategies and commercial excellence. Tools like Relative Competitive Analysis, Patient Flow and Journey, Timeline Dynamics and many more help in pulling actionable levers for commercial success.
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