Key performance indicators (KPIs) are at the core of pharmaceutical sales. They are simultaneously the output and driver of sales representative behaviors.
Sales representatives use performance indicators to evaluate their relationship management and district sales strategies, ensuring they get the best results. Regional directors use them to identify training and development opportunities in sales reps, revise targets, clarify their own vision and direction, or find new or different ways to motivate performance. National directors use them to make strategic hiring and market development decisions, coach regional directors, and remove barriers.
But while pharma sales KPIs are valuable to all members of your organization, many companies fail to use these metrics to their full potential. Learn how the following three steps can ensure you’re aligning with KPI best practices and maximizing performance improvement.
Step 1: Focus on the Right Data
If you ask sales leaders about KPIs, they will tell you that their organization is tracking plenty of metrics. However, not all KPIs are created equal, and focusing on the wrong data or sharing too much data can create confusion and misalignment. As you read through the questions below, ask yourself to what extent you and/or your organization follow these best practices consistently.
- Are we tracking the right KPIs, those that help us identify patterns that support or hinder high performance?
- Do we focus on both leading a lagging indicators, measuring not only outcomes but also critical behaviors that lead to outcomes?
- Are our KPIs designed to enable cross-functional accountability and collaboration?
- Are our discussions about KPI progress geared toward taking meaningful action to close gaps, with an expectation to track execution and impact follow-up?
Step 2: Create Structure Around KPI Reviews
KPI reviews are straightforward in principle, but tricky in execution. Usually pharma sales reps have a fair amount of experience, and they know what they’re doing. They have looked at these types of data points over and over again, in some cases for decades. They know what the data means.
So, it’s easy to understand why some sales teams are surprised at the suggestion that KPI discussions should be more structured and formal. In fact, many reps are not conditioned to look at the behavior-results connection in this way. Start by asking yourself:
- Do we have a clear structure for KPI review conversations?
- Are we holding regional directors responsible for following that structure?
- Is there clear consistency in KPI review conversations across different regions?
Step 3: Create Dialogue that Drives Action and Growth
Translating KPIs into actionable steps that will improve behaviors is likely the most difficult part of the process. In the same way that sales reps with lots of experience may not feel the need for structured KPI reviews, there is often an inherent assumption that once the data snapshot has been shared, everyone is clear on how to improve performance. This is not always the case.
What should your team to do differently the next time they go out in the field? How will this move leading and lagging KPIs in the right direction? Instead of sporadic field observations, use team calls to set expectations and align on specific actions. Evaluate the following questions:
- Does our KPI review format generate dialogue among all team members, rather than being a one-way lecture by the regional director?
- Does each KPI review end with clear action plans or next steps?
- Do we follow up on group KPI reviews with individual action plans?
Take time to reflect on your current KPI process, and ensure that you’re incorporating these steps into your new approach. When you do, you’ll be on track to improve how your team uses KPIs and you can meet and exceed your sales targets.
Learn about how to improve your pharmaceutical sales numbers. Download this free guide for more insight.