One-Size-(Doesn’t Necessarily)-Fit-All: Developing an Effective Pharmaceutical Sales Force to Serve the U.S. Hospital Marketplace


The U.S. hospital marketplace is made up of multiple market segments that each has its own organizational and decision-making structure for formulary decisions. Indeed, hospital formulary decisions are not only influenced by medical professionals focused on efficacy and safety but also by administrative personnel focused on operational efficiency and cost. Knowing who has the most influence in the hospital setting is essential for developing an effective pharmaceutical sales force.

New research from Best Practices, LLC found that Health Care Professionals (HCP) decision-makers ranked more important than local hospital and network administrators in terms of their influence in the hospital market. Also, Physicians, Clinical Pharmacists and Therapeutic Area Specialists represent the most important positions to target for current market impact. Fellows, Residents and Attendees have lost some of their importance, as some companies forego the long-term impact they represent as future key decision-makers.

The benchmarking study also reaffirms that pharmaceutical sales forces can’t take a one-size-fits-all approach to serving the U.S. hospital marketplace. For instance, within the community hospital segment, the traditional sales rep model remains preferred whereas within the network segments (Integrated Delivery Networks) and VA hospitals, the account executive model is used most often, according to the study.

In order to successfully understand the hospital market and their relationship with pharmaceutical sales forces, the study identified various key focus areas that include:

  • Targeting Key Decision Makers/Influencers in Making Formulary Decisions
  •  Hospital Sales Force Alignment, Structure and Support
  •  Hospital Sales Force Staffing and Training
  •  Group Purchasing Organization Targeting and Sales Force Size

It has been made evident in recent years that to effectively serve the U.S. hospital marketplace, pharmaceutical sales forces have to understand the nuances inherent in each hospital type in order to navigate the path to successful formulary placement.

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