About the Client
A midsize pharmaceutical company was looking to launch a new product that was very different from its core product line. Pharma being a much structured domain, the leadership recognized the need to formulate a new ground-up competency framework that better captured necessary attributes to be effective in managing newly acquired accounts associated with new product line.
The Need for Competency Framework
Given The Brew’s differentiation in formulating Competency Framework, post consultation with leadership, the mandate for competency modeling exercise was as follows:
- To objectively identify the critical behaviors essential to excel at managing new types of accounts & drive business outcomes
- To objectively identify the skills necessary to excel at managing the new types of accounts
- To develop a comprehensive competency framework and job descriptions for the new sales force
- To identify, for each competency, an overall make v/s. buy strategy for sales org
- To provide input into the training/development and performance management strategies used with the sales organization
To create a business-focused competency framework that leaders at all levels supported, we deployed the following approach as follows:
Identify Business Priorities & Business Outcomes: Define in consultation with leadership, the specific goal(s), in this case, it was market share. This prioritization reinforced the alignment between the competency modeling exercise and other organizational needs, helping us create a sense of urgency, focus & establishing objectivity of performance, efforts v/s. Market share.
Conduct Focus Group Discussion (See Wikipedia) & Interviews with key stakeholders: The stakeholders included senior sales leaders, frontline sales managers, sales representatives, outside sales experts, and doctors/prescribers working within the specialty. The objective of FGDs & Interviews was to discover & triage (1) the critical behaviors & KSAAMs of the newly conceptualized sales role and (2) the unique KSAAMs of selling this product in market.
Survey Multiple Stakeholder Groups: Post completion of FGD & interviews, the feedback on the KSAAMs was integrated into a more manageable list of behavioral statements (for example, “secures commitment to prescribe”). we then administered three separate surveys for key stakeholder groups:
- First, with a nationwide group of doctors who work in the specialty area to gain quantitative insight into qualities and services that define best-in-class sales representatives who sell this specific type of product. This was an online survey, with time based constraints for entire group
- Second, Telephone interviews with a group of high-performing sales representatives from outside the organization who had sold this type of product in the past. The objective of this exercise was to gain (1) quantitative insight into the skills and behaviors that drove success in selling this type of product from a sales-representative point of view and (2) qualitative insights from open text input into key behaviors and skills that drove successful selling of this type of product
- Lastly, with senior leaders at client organization. The focus of which was on behavioral statements obtained during the stakeholder interviews. Bcos the leaders had grown in the organization ground up, we wanted to ensure compatibility of these behaviors with their insights & organizational culture, both of them operating in tandem to help us achieve the business objectives.
Triaging & Ascertaining Key Competencies – Emerging Competency Framework Model: Based on all the data collected from multiple stakeholders, on compilation, a framework of seven broad competencies began to emerge, leading to forming competency buckets / clusters, again from the inputs of the core stakeholders team. This exercise was complete when the stakeholders reached a consensus on the final set of competencies and corresponding KSAAMs
Finalization of Key Competencies & Competency Framework: Post ascertaining key competencies, the importance of each competency to effective job performance was calculated (done statistically with techniques of SEM, Logistic Regression, PCA & Dimensionality reduction). Each competency was then classified as a “Must-Have,” “Needed-to-Win,” or Differentiator
Objective base-lining of Key Competencies: Driving objectivity (& thereby incremental value & ROI) is a key differentiator for us, more importantly, in the domain of human capital, where this is considered a rabbit hole – we certainly enjoy this the most. Using the data from the high-performing sales representatives phone surveys, the experience and knowledge level of the sales representatives were used as an initial proxy to build a data-driven baseline about minimum competency requirements for the new role. With this information, job descriptions were created and the comprehensive hiring process, which assessed the sales representative candidates on all key competencies, was developed. The baseline development for competency framework, enabled organization on the critical areas requiring development & training efforts specific to sales organization.
Make v/s. Buy strategy: Post ascertainment of key competencies (competency framework) & base-lining exercise, the critical business question had to be worked out – whether the organization would adopt a buy (i.e., hire from market) or make (i.e., develop internally) strategy. For competencies like in depth knowledge of pharmaceutical regulations, the approach was to buy. On other hand, building evidence based approach (Evidence Based management, HBR, 2006) to selling competency was chosen to be build organically, in compatibility with the culture of overall organization. This decision shaped the entire talent management strategy, right from talent acquisition to development, progression, incentivization etc.
Validating the Key Competencies to Business Outcomes: Post deploying the entire talent management process with key competencies (competency framework) we validated whether the competencies used to make hiring decisions were in fact driving key business outcomes, the market share.
Using data from sales representatives’ competency ratings collected at hiring process and their business performance ratings (market share), we statistically demonstrated each competency’s level of impact on market share using advanced analytics.
To conclude, the entire competency framework development exercise, enabled the organization to:
- Was aligned to business priorities & business needs
- Had senior and frontline-level involvement
- Was tuned to high performance culture & high impact growth
- Was a driving force of a critical business outcome (market share)