In2Focus stays sharp

By Kirsty Barnes

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Pharma companies Pharmaceutical industry

2005 was a challenging year for contract sales organisations (CSO),
with many downsizing their sales teams. However, In2Focus, is
bucking the industry trend, and increasing its headcount to meet

The UK company also beat entries from big blue chip companies such as AstraZeneca, British Airways and Sony UK to win two national sales awards at the recently-held BESMAs (British Excellence in Sales & Marketing Awards).

Pharma companies in the UK and US marketplace are now seriously re-evaluating and reshaping their current sales force model to focus on increasing their return on investment (ROI).

The previous model of 50-60 evenly-distributed reps per drug is no longer working effectively for some products, Steve Kerridge, managing director at In2Focus, told

"In the UK, for example, NHS doctors are no longer making their own prescribing decisions and are largely dictated by Primary Care Trusts, NICE and other formulary bodies, therefore the traditional sales model is not proving cost-effective,"​ said Kerridge.

Instead of banging their head against a brick wall, drug companies are now moving towards a "hot spot" approach to sales and placing larger number of reps in key growth locations and pulling reps back from areas with little potential.

As a result of the restructuring, drug companys are cutting back sales force resources and many CSOs are now experiencing a lull in business.

"However, I expect the industry to become buoyant again by the end of the year, as drug companies decide they need high quality reps, in the right places, in a flexible way,"​ said Kerridge.

"The pharma industry isn't set up that way, CSOs are,"​ he said.

Despite the general down turn, In2Focus has managed to buck the trend, instead experiencing a period of growth.

Kerridge attributes this to the business model of In2 Focus, which focuses on "high quality and innovative services for the pharma industry."

"We build our teams with over 80 per cent experienced pharma sales reps, compared to 20 per cent for some other CSOs. Our customers are buying people that already know their territories and doctors and can drive a better ROI, quicker,"​ he said.

The company has also developed a unique sales force effectiveness (SFE) service, using a mix of consultants and analytical tools to analyse the sales potential for brands so pharma companies can position their sales forces for maximum ROI.

"We help companies put people in the right places and we have about 30-40 pharma companies using this service,"​ said Kerridge.

The other popular service the company offers is a business research and consulting service that looks at how effectively individual members of a sales force are delivering the pharma company's key messages, or their 'In Call Quality' (ICQ).

The process involves having the sales reps assessed by 3-4 independent doctors who score their effectiveness, including ability to influence prescribing. Any weaknesses can be quickly identified and strengthened.

The scores are then collated and stored in a database and all research is independent and abides by market research codes and guidelines.

"We have the largest database of this kind in the EU, covering 21 countries worldwide, so pharma companies can also compare their sales force with the industry average or the top ten pharma company average, for example,"​ said Kerridge.

"We are seeing a growing demand for this service and we have implemented a significant investment plan just this week to develop this part of the business, including expanding it further throughout Europe,"​ he said.

In2Focus also assesses its own contract reps in this way and have found them to be "at least as good as the pharma industry average."

"No other CSO offers these SFE and ICQ services using our methodology, which is more insightful and is primarily focused on how to improve sales team performances,"​ said Kerridge.

Pharma companies are getting sharper, and focusing more on the ROI of their sales teams to make sure the message delivered by reps is getting through to doctors and changing prescribing habits. If they are not, a whole lot of time and money is wasted.

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