Most pharmaceutical sales organizations measure and track sales performance on a quarterly basis. With the first quarter of 2012 closed, now is a good time to review your business plans and determine if performance results are on track.  A Quarterly Business Review with your direct reports who have accountability for sales targets is an important tool for tracking performance and modifying plans, where appropriate.

When done well, a Quarterly Business Review provides value on a couple of fronts. First, it creates a shared and transparent understanding of the overall geography’s performance. By conducting an evidence-based analysis, you can draw key insights and greater understanding of the marketplace. Second, the review provides an opportunity to recalibrate plans and adjust resources to achieve business goals.

Other advantages of a Quarterly Business Review include:

  • Development of the entire field forces’ business acumen skills and ability to drive results.
  • Reinforcement of key messages related to the strategy and the need to remain adaptable to meet marketplace challenges.
  • Consistent application of a process that focuses on planning, review, and recalibration.

Best practices for conducting a value-added Quarterly Business Review include the following:

  • A formal process is in place with the commitment to dedicate time and resources for review discussions (typically 2-3 hours).
  • The organization provides guided questions that focus on key strategic drivers to assist in the preparation and review meeting.
  • The sales manager and sales representative prepare and review current business reports, paying attention to significant changes that impact the business, not just a high-level summary.
  • During the meeting, managers take the time to recognize achievements and positive movement; especially with regard to longer term goals.
  • Sales managers and sales representatives agree on next steps for updating action plans.
  • Sales managers and representatives recalibrate and update plans.

After the business review discussion, it is important to agree on next steps and changes to the action plan. As always, when creating action plans, they should be SMART – Specific, Measurable, Actionable, Realistic, and Time-bound.

Another organizational best practice is to leverage lessons learned across marketplaces, geographies, and accounts. There should be a process in place for sales leaders to collate and share these lessons, and time should be allowed for information sharing to occur.

To summarize, the use of quarterly business reviews is an effective tool for both reflecting backwards and looking forwards. The disciplined Business Review Process where both sales managers and representatives engage in discussion on sales performance, action plan effectiveness, resource allocation decisions, and marketplace changes contributes to successful goal attainment. 

Wendy L. Heckelman, Ph.D.

Dr. Wendy Heckelman, president and founder of WLH Consulting, Inc. has over 30 years of experience working with Fortune 100 industry clients. These include pharmaceutical, biotech, health care, animal health medicines, and consumer products, as well as international non-profit organizations and growing entrepreneurial companies.

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