Sneaky Way One of the Largest Pharmaceutical Companies in the World Used a Leaderboard to Increase Sales

by: Nichole Gunn March 8, 2019

One of the challenges of being an industry trendsetter is getting new partners or prospects to break away from convention. Understandable, of course. There’s a certain degree of comfort in hanging onto the ‘old way of doing things.’

Even if those habits and modes of thought are outdated, or no longer serve the needs of your business, well, they’re established. Plenty of business owners experience a degree of success, play it safe, conserve their mental bandwidth by never thinking outside the box. Slowly, they watch their business atrophy, get passed by competitors, and join a long list of businesses that never adjust to changes in the marketplace and fade into the oblivion of just meeting the bottom line. Until they don’t.

The other side of that coin are the companies that are perpetually at the top of their field. These businesses often promote a culture of growth. They set ambitious sales goals. They are data-focused and watchful of changes in the marketplace—and mindful of how those changes can result in opportunity.

And they aren’t afraid to act when the time is right.

Incentivizing Doctors and Surgeons, in an Industry where ‘Incentives’ aren’t Allowed

In pharmaceutical sales, the use of traditional incentives—a branded coffee mug, point-based rewards, or a high-end incentive travel experience—to motivate buyers is strictly forbidden. If pharmaceutical sales companies use incentive programs at all (and they do if they’re smart), they reserve incentives for the seller-side to drive growth.

Afterall, using incentives to motivate sales reps is a proven way to increase sales and retain talent. It’s something that we strongly encourage all of our partners in pharmaceutical sales to do. But pharmaceutical regulations don’t leave much room for creative thinking.

However, there’s another side of incentive strategy that extends beyond tangible rewards, and it’s this side of incentive strategy that Allergan Pharmaceuticals, one of the largest pharmaceutical companies in the world, tapped into as part of their wildly successful incentive campaign several years ago.

Competitive Spirit and the Power of Recognition

We’ve written articles in the past about how using incentives to appeal to the ego driven nature of salespeople was an effective way to increase sales growth. However, it turns out that those same appeals—the need for Achievement, Social Affiliation, Power, Gratification, and Survival—appeal heavily to pharmaceutical sales buyers as well.

Here’s what Allergan did. In conjunction with a Portfolio Bonus Rebate, which rewarded accounts for buying additional items from the company’s product line, Allergan created a Top 50 List across all of its client accounts as part of the Allergan Partner Privileges program.

Allergan, using a gamification-based promotion, pitted their clients against each other to compete for recognition. Take a moment to Google ‘Allergan Top 50’ or ‘Allergan Partner Privileges’ and you’ll see just how powerful internal competition and the need for recognition are in driving buyer (and seller) behavior.

Doctors, physicians, and plastic surgeons made a concerted effort to climb the internal ranking system. Partly, because they could watch their respected peers participating in the program. Social Affiliation—the need to be a part of a community—is a powerful motivator. But also, the ranking system offered a chance for them to differentiate themselves from their competitors.

According to a case study in Incentive Mag, the Top 50 List alone accounted for $6 million in sales growth. Overall, their incentive program was able to increase sales by more than 20%, and Allergan Partner Privileges achieved a ROI of $5.6 for every $1 spent. Another mark of businesses that are perpetually ahead of the curve is they always design their incentive programs with a focus on generating ROI.

How this Applies to your Business

This kind of competition-based incentive strategy is highly scalable, since the psychology behind it remains the same, whether you’re a multibillion-dollar industry giant or a more modest midsize business.

Even on a smaller, more local level, businesses are always eager for positive mentions—anything they can market or use as proof of their legitimacy. Dealers and contractors, likewise. Sales reps are always looking for something positive they can add to their LinkedIn resume. And some more ego driven or self-motivated personality types will compete just to compete.

All it takes is a little bit of strategic thinking. 😉

The Incentive Technology to Make it Happen

The Leaderboard Module is part Incentive Solutions’ in-house technology suite. It gives businesses the tools they need to harness the power of competition and the need for recognition—whether it’s used internally to motive sales teams or externally to motivate buyer behavior.

Stay tuned as we continue to explore ways incentive strategy in reshaping the pharmaceutical industry.

 

Til next time,

Nichole Gunn

VP of Marketing & Creative Services
Incentive Solutions

About Nichole Gunn

Nichole Gunn is the VP of Marketing at Incentive Solutions, an Atlanta-based incentive company that delivers advanced, agile B2B customer loyalty and channel sales incentives programs.