URSAPHARM decided to evaluate the soundness of its existing sales structure given changing market conditions and growth in its ophthalmologic product line business. This medication manufacturer has previously implemented numerous territory optimizations, but with only modest success. The company’s sales team was struggling due to an uneven distribution of territories and potential. URSAPHARM consequently wanted to implement a uniform optimization that would intimately involve employees. GfK collaboratively developed a three-phase approach for optimizing URSAPHARM’s sales territories.
URSAPHARM is a manufacturer of medications and medicinal products for eye health; ear, nose and throat health (ENT); and general medicinal purposes. This internationally active family business is one of the market leaders in the area of ophthalmologic (eye health) products. URSAPHARM was also the first manufacturer to eliminate potentially harmful preservatives from multi-dose containers (COMOD system) of eye drops and ointments.
GfK spoke with Friedrich Quante, head of medical science outside sales in Germany for URSAPHARM Arzneimittel GmbH.
Mr. Quante, what challenges did your company face?
Products in our ophthalmologic line are prescribed or recommended by nearly every eye doctor in Germany. We’re delighted by this, but it also motivated us to determine how our sales team could best serve our customers, doctors and pharmacies.
As a first step, we expanded our commercial pharmaceutical outside sales team in 2014, while simultaneously intensifying our direct pharmacy sales, and then subsequently increasing our physician network.
What was your unique sales situation and why did you approach GfK?
Our sales structures were complex and impacted by various external planning endeavors. This made it more difficult to intensively manage and penetrate into the most important market segments. Our outside sales territories were very unevenly structured. For example, the geographic size and number of customers varied widely from one territory to another. When we mapped these structures, we discovered gaps where we had little or no coverage. The unevenness of the territories lowered morale and increased workload for our sales colleagues. We therefore decided that we needed a reliable partner who could help us optimize our sales while keeping the “human factor” at the forefront of the change process.
What were the most important criteria for the optimization?
Our goal was to create a comprehensive sales structure that would eliminate no longer served territories while simultaneously providing coverage to around 1,000 temporary eye doctors who were not being taken into account by the existing structure. For the optimization, we prioritized infrastructure-related factors and the maintenance or reacquisition of customers. We also didn’t want to require our outside sales team members to change their places of residence. And it was important to have a transparent planning and implementation process that involved employees from the outset.
How did GfK help you with this?
GfK collaborated closely with us to come up with a multi-stage optimization process that took into account our important criteria and the availability of market potential. In 2014, our top priority was the optimization of our pharmacy network in Germany. In the following year, the focus was on optimizing the northern/northwestern and western territories in our physician network. The final stage was the optimization of the southern territories of our physician network in 2016. This approach allowed us to adjust for the uneven distribution of doctors in these territories.
We now have sales territories that offer comprehensive coverage and are structured according to the visitation load and number of served physicians (A and B customers). The potential-oriented nature of the new structure made things easier for our outside sales team and gave them fair and attainable goals toward which they could strive. The close involvement of the outside sales team was a key factor. Without that component, it would have been very difficult to implement the required changes.
What is your overall impression of the collaboration with GfK?
Working with GfK GeoMarketing experts was very pleasant for us. We felt we were in good hands thanks to their competence. The results speak for themselves: 2016 was the most successful year in our company’s history. And we continue to experience two-digit growth in 2017. We highly recommend GfK GeoMarketing’s goal-orientated approach and view the optimization process as the foundation for long-term success.
Thank you for your time, Mr. Quante.
Founded in 1974, this internationally active, mid-sized family company from Saarbrücken operates subsidiaries in Benelux, Poland, the Czech Republic, Russia, France, Austria and
Portugal, among others. Thanks to its broad range of medications and medicinal products, URSAPHARM is one of Germany’s market leaders in the ophthalmologic sector. The
company’s offering also includes preparations for ENT and general medicine purposes.