It is a New Year with new challenges and 2021 will continue the pattern of disruption in healthcare! What is not new is the importance of developing effective geography and account plans. Life Sciences companies that take a purposeful and consistent approach to developing, executing, and reviewing geography and account plans yield better results.

Most pharmaceutical organizations conduct year beginning meetings to align everyone on goals and key business priorities.  This year, meetings will likely be virtual and the opportunities to learn from peers formally and informally could be greatly reduced.  In addition, the typical “ask” is to take these strategic priorities and translate them into meaningful plans of action. Sales and Access leaders should proactively coach their teams to resist “jumping into the deep end” without engaging in focused planning. Instead, use this year’s kick off meetings and initial one-on-one visits to ensure each direct report develops a plan that leads to better results.

All field leaders (Sales and Access) and field professionals, should keep the following four tips in mind when developing a business plan:

Tip 1: Revisit your marketplace analysis

Critical to any plan development is the need to evaluate the marketplace. Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the healthcare marketplace is experiencing incredible disruption on clinical, operational, and financial matters.  No matter your therapeutic area or the stakeholders you call on, it is important to take stock in what is changing and what developments will continue to influence healthcare delivery decisions.  Challenge your team to evaluate what is unique about the specific geography relative to dominant providers and payers, and the subsequent impact on treatment decisions. Furthermore, healthcare policy continues to be debated as a result of the 2020 elections.  When performing a marketplace analysis, it is important to evaluate the larger context and “check-in” with your customers to appreciate their challenges.

  • Remember that depth of knowledge changes over time and additional preparation and data collection may be required before your first call of the year
  • Limit the scope of what needs to be analyzed to remain focused and efficient
  • Do a “gut check” and validate with evidence

Tip 2: Align the plan with business strategies

Planning does not happen in a vacuum. Consider therapeutic area and account priorities, and brand goals.

  • Have a full appreciation of business objectives, emphasize brand strategies, and seek clarification as needed
  • Understand and gain an appreciation for the “why” behind tactical decisions and day-to-day actions
  • Incorporate leadership guidance into the planning process to understand higher level company or strategic goals that must be met and then translate these into territory and account level goals

Tip 3:  Assess performance and focus on the best opportunities

After gaining an appreciation for the broader healthcare ecosystem, it is important to identify and prioritize accounts and specific health care providers. Prioritizing customers requires both an evaluation of past performance and making assumptions about future potential. Coach each customer-facing professional to:

  • Reflect upon and analyze overall geography performance (e.g., where is most of the business concentrated? Where is the business trending up (growing), down (declining), and staying the same (flat)?)
  • Develop objectives and plans that include opportunities based on future potential due to factors such as access, positive formulary positions, local KOLs, and willingness to engage in other value-added solutions, such as patient adherence programs or educational efforts
  • Develop goals related to improving penetration in existing accounts and to creating new customer opportunities

Tip 4: Be accountable for business success

Creating quality business plans can be one of the key differentiators between “good” and “great” customer-facing professionals. The other differentiator is effective plan execution. Customer-facing professionals who follow their plan stay focused and prioritize high value activities in pursuit of the broader goals. Even with a solid plan in place, adaptations may be required based on changing marketplace conditions or shifts in internal direction.

  • Be prepared to share the rationale for your focus, goals, and actions
  • Review existing goals and action plans regularly to determine if you are on target
  • Leverage existing business analytics and reports to assess progress and identify potential risks and opportunities
  • Revisit and prioritize activities to ensure quick wins can be achieved
  • Evaluate resources in this year’s budget and allocate for opportunities with the highest potential
  • Coordinate with other customer-facing roles on any planned activities for shared customers, or when specific expertise is needed to achieve goals (e.g., nurse educators, MSLs)

Imagine yourself and your team a year from now. Keeping these four tips top of mind can help you achieve the desired results. Purposeful attention to creating a culture of disciplined planning and execution builds individual, team, and organizational capabilities to consistently deliver results.

If you are looking to create a culture focused on effective planning and execution, WLH Consulting, Inc. can help you identify, adapt and apply lessons learned and best practices to your organization’s structure, portfolio, roles, and priorities.


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