What is sales planning software?
Sales planning software is used in the pharmaceutical and biotech industries to drive R&D, marketing, and manufacturing decisions both for in-market products and for medicines still in development. Functionally, it captures sales forecasts for each product in a company’s portfolio across geographies, patient segments, and product formulations. The forecasts are stored in a centralized database, and users have controlled, real-time access through a web browser or desktop application. Visualizations and dashboards provide both a means to validate the forecasts and insights that help drive decision making.
Sales planning software generally offers a range of features to support critical business processes:
- Data management tools aggregate forecasts from multiple stakeholders and orchestrate forecast processes across teams.
- Flexible forecasting models accommodate the unique requirements of a specific therapeutic areas or a company’s proprietary forecasting methods.
- Market dynamics simulations allow users to see how market segmentation, competitors, and share analyses affect forecasts and outcomes.
- Dynamic modeling methods enable consideration of combination therapies and dependencies—such as cannibalization—across products.
- Variance analyses highlight changes in the forecast over time and track differences between sales forecasts and actual sales.
- Centralized capture and storage of common assumptions (such as disease epidemiology) that should be applied uniformly to all relevant forecasts ensures consistency in constructing forecasts across therapeutic areas, geographies, and teams.
- What-if analyses provide the tools to explore multiple development or market scenarios for a product or therapeutic area.
How can sales planning software help regional sales managers?
One of regional sales managers’ most important decisions is how to allocate marketing dollars across countries, markets, and brands. Sales planning software is a powerful tool that can help regional sales managers devise—and stick to—an allocation strategy.
Strategic planning begins with a confident understanding of where you are today,
obtained by taking a comprehensive look at the current sales portfolio. Because sales planning software captures consistent sales forecasts for each product and each country, it can quickly and easily aggregate the data to produce regional forecasts for each indication within each brand. With this detailed information, and the flexible modeling tools provided by a comprehensive sales planning software suite, the regional sales manager can highlight countries where revenue or share growth leads or lags the pack. They can then drill down into forecasts where the anomalies occur, identify factors driving the differences, and have directed conversations with the sales teams to explore the key issues, such as:
- Why is the compliance rate lower in one country than another?
- Why is the treatment duration higher in one region than in others?
- How does reimbursement differ across sub-populations within each country?
The answers to questions like these can help the regional sales manager develop marketing plans, patient education efforts, and other activities to support growth or address trouble spots¬—before they become problems.
How can sales planning software help corporate planners?
At the corporate level, sales planning software can help shape the global brand strategy and drive R&D decisions. A complete sales planning tool can provide corporate planners the tools they need to drive growth and plan for contingencies.
- Clarify strategies for each target market.
By providing a clearer picture of what the competitive landscape will be when new products are expected to launch and helping planners understanding how new products will cannibalize existing ones, sales planning software can help brand managers develop more accurate long-term sales forecasts and make better decisions about what indications or regions should be targeted first. These insights can inform product development decisions, such as whether a combination therapy would perform better than a monotherapy in key market segments.
- Understand the implications of launch timing.
Looking at how the competitive landscape is anticipated to change both before and after a scheduled product launch can help brand managers assess the impact of development delays, or justify spending more to speed a product to market.For example, a brand manager at one of our client companies looked at the competitive landscape for an upcoming launch and determined that a key competitive product was going to be launched around the same time. For this particular indication, once a patient began using a particular therapy, it became very difficult to get that patient to switch to a different brand. Armed with a comprehensive view of how the competitive landscape was expected to change—provided by our sales planning software—the brand manager was able to assess how far in advance her product needed to launch to capture enough patients to make the R&D investment worthwhile. That information enabled her to make a case for additional investment to accelerate development.
- Pressure-test key assumptions.
Each sales forecast is built on dozens of assumptions.
If they’re to trust the forecast, managers must have confidence in each of those assumptions, but there’s simply not enough time to review each one in detail. By using what-if analyses to gauge the sensitivity of the overall forecast to the accuracy of each assumption, managers can zero in on the key assumptions driving sales and spend more time vetting them. For example, what is the impact on sales if the share is 30% lower than projected? This is not an alternative to proper in-depth scenario analysis, but rather a quick way to identify those assumptions that need more investigation.
- Enable long-term capacity planning.
Product volume forecasts generated from the sales planning tool can be a valuable source of information for capacity planning decisions. By providing well-thought-out upside and downside product-demand scenarios along with the base case for all strategic markets, sales planning software can take the guesswork out of forecasting resource needs and allow manufacturing teams to make informed decisions about long-term capacity planning.
Sales planning software as a tool to drive strategy
At its heart, sales planning software provides a platform for capturing the assumptions governing sales forecasts, as well as the data behind them, allowing forecasts to be both compared and aggregated and providing insights to drive decision making both for products in R&D and for those already on the market . By providing a comprehensive picture of the product and competitive landscapes, sales planning software empowers managers to identify what countries, brands, and indications could benefit most from investment and make stronger resource allocation decisions to support growth and align with the organization’s overall strategy.
To learn more about our sales forecasting software in the pharmaceutical & biotech industries, built on the Enrich Analytics Platform, take a look at this post on reconciling country and regional forecasts with headquarters estimates. Or contact us — we’ll be happy to show you’ll how our tools can help you get more from your sales planning process.