Sales Force and Sampling
Due to the steady stream of news about sales force cuts and restructuring, we decided to add a new section to our survey to gain a little industry perspective on the topic. Among our respondents, the budgets devoted to sales force and sampling are only a little bit off from the marketing budgets (Figure 16). There are actually slightly more budgets in the $11-$20 million range in sales force and sampling (20%) vs. marketing (16%), but marketing has a 2% lead in the largest range. Overall, the average budget for sales force and sampling is $15.8 million, which is only about a million off from the average marketing budget.
Nearly six in 10 marketers had their sampling budgets cut (by an average of 20%), which leaves only 40% of respondents getting a boost in this area (by an average of 21%). Unsurprisingly, the story was quite similar for a brand’s sales force team—55% of respondents had a reduced force (cut by an average of 21%), while 45% saw their forces increase (by an average of 23%). The benefit of an increased sales force is obvious, so the real question is how our respondents dealt with the reductions.
The most common solution to overcome cuts to a sales force was investing more heavily in NPP (Figure 17). This seems to be a consistent trend as NPP was also one of the top places to turn when marketing budgets were cut. (And yet somehow, overall NPP was still down a total of 7%.) The second most popular solution was better targeting or hyper-targeting—where sales forces focused their attention on key prescribers. Increases in digital marketing/eDetailing and direct marketing were about even, but they are used less often to overcome sales force deficiencies than marketing ones. Only about 4% of respondents turned to contract sales organizations (CSOs) or to the outsourcing of sales reps. Some respondents stated that they are handling it just fine or that it was the right decision to make as their brand headed towards loss of exclusivity. Yet others were unable to come up with any solutions and could only report that morale is very low and that it will be hard to do anything if forces become even leaner. A few of the more unique methods that were mentioned include adjusting the sales channel through partnerships, seeking additional peer-to-peer promotional education opportunities, and focusing on sample requests on the product’s website.