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  • Writer's pictureKarsten Schmidt

How to shrewdly adjust Go-to-Market strategies under current market fluctuation

Updated: Jan 11, 2021

In a couple of recent conversations with people from my Life Sciences network I am hearing that there is uncertainty as to how Go-to-Market strategies should be adjusted considering that face-to-face customer interactions are being reduced significantly. This doesn’t come as a surprise since the repeated shifts in different countries between lock-down and opening-up measures create environments which make planning of Sales and Marketing activities a very tough endeavour.

These are the difficult conditions under which many Life Sciences companies currently must operate:

  • Significant reduction of face-to-face interactions

  • Partial compensation through remote customer interactions and other digital channels like rep-triggered emails

  • Diminution of overall customer interaction volumes as compared to pre-pandemic levels

  • Negative sales impact on certain therapeutic areas and launch products caused by the decreased accessibility to healthcare professionals

In this context, important questions arise:

  • Do field force sizes need to be reduced now if customer interaction volumes are anyhow down?

  • Shall vacant territories at once be filled with new sales representatives or shall those vacant territories rather be reassigned to adjacent territories?

  • What will happen to segmentation and targeting when interaction capacities increase again?

To answer these questions, it is recommendable to take a more strategic perspective first by analysing current interaction capacities of sales teams versus their expected long-term incremental sales contribution. As the cost per interaction goes up when interaction capacities are reduced, the key question is which total multi-channel marketing and sales coverage is affordable in this situation.

llustration of process steps to adjust Go-to-Market approaches:

The following steps help to adjust different elements of the Go-to-Market strategy sequentially:

  1. Step: Modelling and understanding promotion in terms of carryover and incremental sales as well as long-term incremental sales. Derive promotional Return on Investment for different customer segments by looking holistically at Marketing and Sales investment levels (digital and non-digital).

  2. Step: Deriving adjusted Segmentation & Targeting model which makes sense to be deployed in the short run.

  3. Step: Determining the overall number of field representatives creates the basis for realigning sales territories.

In step 2 different resource allocation scenarios can be built in terms of the expected increase of interaction capacities in the future related to the easing of lockdown measures. Analyzing different allocation scenarios which combine short to mid-term perspectives, allows local management to decide which resource allocation scenario now is the most suitable one. Here the goal is to avoid too volatile and massive ramp-down and -up decisions which may be too disruptive and probably harmful in the long run. As market environments in terms of HCP accessibility may shift rather quickly it means that the depicted process might need to be conducted more often than normally in order to dynamically adjust operational plans with agility and precision.

Concerning step 3, we often hear that companies are still using Excel-based approaches to align their sales territories. We would like to shed some lights on the advantages of bringing alignment capabilities to the next level by utilizing state-of-the-art territory alignment processes, especially considering the challenging COVID-times.

Since the proportion of digital customer engagements is on the rise, one could argue that the geographical context becomes less relevant when designing territories. However, as the pay-per-performance is often territory-bound when brick-level sales are available, we should certainly consider designing clear territory boundaries in which sales representatives operate with f2f and remote interactions as well as on other digital channels. Why is it now important to deploy state-of-the art alignment tools using digital maps instead of just working Excel-based? There are a couple of reasons why this is the case.

With Excel it is only possible to balance territories based on workloads and potential distributions but impossible to take geographical aspects properly into account:

  • proximity of customers within individual territories

  • travel infrastructure to reach customers

  • size of territories in square kilometres to eventually consider larger territories for less densely populated areas and vice versa

  • location of sales representatives within territories to increase travel efficiencies

  • eventual exclusion of geographies to be ideally left uncovered if full national coverage of the entire geography is not feasible

Overall, we can say that the unstable market environment with fluctuating HCP accessibility makes planning of GTM-approaches more challenging. Taking a balanced approach with a blend of a short- and mid-term perspective to adjust resource allocation optimally will be required in 2021 and maybe even beyond until the pandemic will finally have been defeated.

What is your perspective in terms of adjusting your GTM-approach short- and mid-term?

If you find this article interesting, please like or share it. If you have further questions regarding this topic, please do not hesitate to reach out to us at


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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