The Importance of Sales Force Effectiveness in Pharma

By Sanna Anjum, Senior Business Intelligence Analyst, CSL

In recent years, the pharmaceutical industry has faced many challenges. An overall reduction in the sales workforce, combined with global competition, has triggered an inevitable decline in sales, resulting in pharma companies being required to do more with fewer resources. The pandemic further disrupted the industry, forcing reps to rely on digital channels of communication, rather than face-to-face. As a result, pharma companies are seeking new ways to improve sales via investing in strategies to improve Sales Force Effectiveness (SFE).

SFE is a difficult concept to measure but doing so can facilitate companies with increasing productivity and sales. With the pressure to ensure return on investment, it’s no surprise that SFE is becoming a high priority area for the pharmaceutical industry. SFE dashboards are a key element of enhancing relationships between reps and HCPs, allowing reps to keep up with market trends and better understand their activity performance. Let’s take a closer look at the importance of SFE for pharma companies.

Benefits of sales force effectiveness

There are a number of benefits which can be derived from pharma SFE; these include:

  • Ability to respond to pressures from customers and competitors.
  • Management has greater control over the size and structure of the sales team.
  • Promotes coaching, feedback, recognition, and training to the team.
  • Medical reps can better target, prioritise and develop solutions around HCP needs.
  • Sales reps develop their competencies according to the current market needs.
  • Growing HCP satisfaction and loyalty, resulting in repeat sales.
  • Identify all factors influencing prescribing behaviour.
  • Optimise all relevant resources for a brand across multiple geographies and activities.

This is certainly not an exhaustive list of benefits but can be deemed as some of the most impactful. In general, SFE managers focus on activities that advance customer interaction and increase customer coverage. These activities should also improve the performance of the sales team and enable sales reps to become more efficient.

Drivers of SFE

There are 5 key drivers of successful SFE:

sales force effectiveness drivers

Sales Force Motivation & Engagement: developing the potential of sales reps by aligning the company’s goals with sales goals and motivating via achievable targets, combined with an appealing incentive scheme. If targets are set too high, sales force morale will be low. Alternatively, if targets are low then reps will become complacent. In general, sales must be forecasted correctly in order to set adequate targets. Incentive schemes should be designed in a way which creates excitement amongst reps and keeps them committed to the company’s goals.

Sales Force Accountability: assigning responsibility and accountability to each rep and understanding their strengths and weaknesses. Accountability builds trust, improves performance due to less time being spent on distractive activities, promotes ownership and most importantly, inspires confidence.

Customer and Market Intelligence: providing sales and marketing intelligence via leveraging sales analytics and customer analytics, thereby unlocking the potential of new and emerging markets and enabling sales reps to communicate with the right HCPs in the right way – it’s more efficient to leverage communication channels and target certain HCP segments than to target all of them at once.

Sustainable Team Structure: creating and identifying an effective and sustainable team structure; the size of a sales force impacts both coverage and frequency. A suboptimal team size can lead to disappointing results, whereas a too large team size will lead to future headcount decreases. When designing territories, they should be divided amongst reps in a way which avoids large differences in territory potential.

Effective Marketing and Sales Strategy Creation: creating an effective HCP marketing and sales strategy via leveraging the benefit of market insights and digital platforms. This not only ensures that your products and brands receive the right level of awareness, but also facilitates building trust between customers and organisations.

The Future of sales force effectiveness

The future of sales force effectiveness is likely to be heavily influenced by technology and data analytics. Sales teams will likely use more sophisticated tools and techniques to gather and analyse customer data, which will help them identify new opportunities and tailor their communication with HCPs. Artificial intelligence and machine learning may also be increasingly used to automate certain aspects of the sales process, such as customer segmentation. Additionally, there may be a greater emphasis on creating personalised and engaging customer experiences, as well as on developing strong relationships with customers through effective communication and follow-up. Overall, the future of sales force effectiveness will likely focus on using data and technology to create more efficient and effective sales processes and to build deeper and more meaningful connections with customers.


To wrap up, SFE is crucial because it helps pharma companies to achieve their revenue goals and to grow their business. A more effective sales force means that reps are able to help the company generate more revenue and increase customer satisfaction, as well as build and maintain strong relationships with customers. Furthermore, by gathering and analysing HCP data, reps can help their organisation to better understand HCP needs, which can inform marketing efforts. SFE helps pharma companies to stay competitive in today’s rapidly changing environment; companies which have an effective sales force are able to respond quickly to changes in the market and to identify new opportunities, which gives them an advantage over their competitors. Although it will likely be challenging for pharma companies to implement SFE seamlessly across the organisation, doing so will be worth the investment. 


For more information, please do not hesitate to get in touch at, or call us on 01483 528302. At CSL, we offer a Pharma Expert service which gives you access to additional skilled resources and BI tools to support your team; from data stewardship to sales force structure alignment, and advanced analytics to incentive scheme design. Click on the links below to access further information.

Territory Mapping

Targeting and Segmentation

Sales Targets and Incentive Schemes


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