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  • Writer's pictureKarsten Schmidt

How to build truly meaningful behavioural customer segments which are usable for field forces

Interview: Karsten Schmidt with Steffani Wilde

As feedback on my article aboutvalue-based segmentation and targeting, I was asked if I could write about the behavioural segmentation of healthcare professionals (HCPs). This is why I have invitedSteffani Wildefor a short interview about this topic. Steffani has gained vast experience in pharma-brand & market access strategies and is a Design Thinker from Hasso-Plattner-Institute (HPI). She launched several global healthcare brands in different indications. Today, Steffani focuses on making customer engagement in healthcare more meaningful with a user-centered perspective and has conducted different co-creation formats with Life Sciences companies to build solid behavioural customer segments usable by field forces.

Karsten: Life Sciences companies often invest a considerable amount of money in market research at regional or global level in order to establish behavioural customer segments or customer “personas", yet when it comes to working with these personas at country level affiliates often struggle to implement them properly. What are the reasons for that and what needs to change to make these personas more actionable for Marketing and Sales teams at country level? Steffani: The knowledge about customer archetypes, in addition to the potential analysis of accounts, helps to knock at the right doors at the right time with relevant content. As a result, the efficiency of every call can be increased. Many market research agencies nowadays are well-experienced in ethnography and have teams to do field-work in different local markets. It makes a lot of sense to get professional support from an agency when entering a new indication with new medical specialists. As an outcome you have then physician - PERSONAS based on their treatment attitude and beliefs towards the product or substance class. For the day-to-day sales activities however, the research-based archetypes are often too complex. Very often country colleagues complain that they do not recognize those archetypes from the market research in their markets. That's why we suggest taking the archetypes from the research as a prototype and refining them locally with customer-facing functions of each country.

Karsten:You have done multiple co-creation workshops in order to identify HCP personas with Life Sciences companies. Can you describe a bit how you work with the participants in order to build the personas?

Steffani: We usually work in multi-disciplinary teams to benefit from different perspectives, e.g. sales forces, market access, digital marketing, medical affairs. Depending on the group size, we split into teams of 3-5.   Sales representatives and other customer-facing colleagues belonging to the same pharmaceutical company are the most valuable source when it comes to profiling customers. They are intuitively trained to recognize patterns, identify pain points and interests of the customers and segment them into archetypes and subsequent segments. When a sales rep enters a physician's office, he instantly observes photographs of family members on their wall, certificates of achievement, which company sponsored the mouse pad and what their desk looks like. Is it a shiny clear surface without a single item on it, or is the physician hiding between piles of papers, publication, journals and other stuff? Among all the details, the sales rep identifies what might be relevant to this client and how to break the ice before making his pitch. When we co-create customer personas in a workshop format with customer-facing functions, we ask participants initially to identify the 3-4 main client characters. They describe not only profile information but also important quotes, pain points, needs, attitudes toward competitors, and values. Usually participants have concrete examples on their mind representing a certain target group.

In every launch of a new technology, you can recognize that there is a group of early adopters. These are the ones that can’t wait to get their hands on the product, like the type of person who is camping in front of the Apple Store before a new iPhone is launched. When launching a new treatment option, this group of Early Adopters is basically the group of clients which should be targeted first.

Apart from their attitude towards innovation, physicians, along with all other human beings, have different intrinsic drivers. While there are people very interested in scientific work, publishing studies and speaking at conferences, others might be more interested in networking and travelling to international events. There are the dedicated “patient lovers”. They do not need a stage and might even feel uncomfortable in the atmosphere of networking events. They are too busy to travel or respond to your invitations. Understanding intrinsic motivation is key to having relevant conversations with a client.

Karsten:Silos between Marketing, Sales and Medical need to be overcome in order to drive true collaboration and to engage in a meaningful way with different stakeholders in healthcare. What would be your recommendations to make this happen in a sustainable way?

Steffani: In fact, the outcome of smart profiling & targeting as well as relevant engagement depends on the collaboration of different functions.  The customer will only have a seamless experience if all customer-facing functions communicate with each other. Unfortunately today a company does not have just one face to present to the client. A physician has to cope with numerous different individuals, a sales rep, an MSL, sometimes a Key Account Manager. Be it for compliance reasons or for lack of internal communication, none of them can fully attend to a need that a client might have. State-of-the-art CRM systems can help generate the 360 degree view on the customer together with a seamless customer experience. Compliance rules and struggle for "ownership" of the client relationship however, are usually working against this. In conclusion we can say that value-based segmentation is the foundation which behavioural segmentation can be built upon. If the foundation is fragile, efforts should probably be focussed on strengthening value-based segmentation first. If the latter is already solid then eventually it makes sense to take behavioural segmentation to the next level.

It is key to co-create behavioural customer segments of Healthcare Professionals to make them actionable for field forces.


Xeleratio Consulting Ltd.

We help Life Sciences executives improve sales performance with innovative best-in-class Business Excellence tools and methodologies . Expertise in Business Excellence has been gained with over 12 years of working in different global and regional roles in the Life Sciences industry.


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