Commercial Analytics: Paving the Way to Customer Leadership in Pharma

Updated on August 17, 2023
Close up of Doctor is touching digital virtual screen for analytics Medical data , Medical technology concept

Customer leadership in the pharma industry entails a strategic approach that places paramount importance on meeting the needs and preferences of customers, including patients, Healthcare Providers (HCPs), payers and other stakeholders. It aims to design bespoke solutions that foster unwavering loyalty and unparalleled customer satisfaction. Empowering pharma leaders to achieve this transformative vision is commercial analytics.

Commercial analytics can propel top-line revenue growth for pharma companies, making it an indispensable facet of customer leadership. Powering proactive and insights-driven customer engagement paves the way for a profound impact.

As a vital tool for establishing the foundation of customer leadership, commercial analytics facilitates effective segmentation, smarter targeting and informed strategy formulation for the optimal marketing mix. Tailored solutions can be devised to meet customers’ specific needs – improving their experiences, raising disease awareness and providing seamless access to critical information (when and where needed). Ultimately, this cutting-edge customer leadership approach translates into unrivaled commercial performance.

Overcoming Internal Resistance

Yet, developing strategies for implementing and executing commercial analytics often faces internal resistance, leading to divergence within pharma companies. Various functions, such as technology, commercial, enterprise and Local Operating Companies (LOC), tend to focus on their own agendas or incentives. To surmount these obstacles, pharma leaders must devise plans to foster a unified vision of deploying commercial analytics to gain a competitive advantage. Creating working models or case studies showcasing best practices effectively demonstrates the tangible benefits these new practices offer to individual teams and the organization.

Pharma leaders should also strive to avoid excessive complexity by cultivating a culture of simplicity. This entails leveraging the data generated by commercial analytics to distill specific, measurable and achievable goals that enhance the customer experience. These objectives must be prioritized and articulated to relevant teams in simple and lucid language, ensuring every team member comprehends their responsibilities and deadlines.

Placing the Customer in the Driver’s Seat

Furthermore, to cultivate exceptional customer experiences, team leaders must empower customers to actively contribute to developing new services rather than passively receiving what they are offered. Achieving this requires cross-referencing healthcare data with patient records, potentially through partnerships with other organizations such as insurers and HealthTech firms, to streamline data integration and facilitate evidence-based decision-making. For example, many initiatives entail leveraging Electronic Health Records (EHR), clinical trials, medical imaging and patient-reported data to provide clinicians with accurate, relevant information at the point of need (when they are treating patients).

Once the relevant information has been gathered and teams aligned, pharma leaders must deploy Minimum Viable Products (MVP) to remain relevant and meet rapidly evolving customer needs. Rather than waiting until a product is fully finalized, an MVP approach necessitates fostering a culture of continuous learning and involving patients earlier in the product development process.

This patient-centricity is key to customer leadership in healthcare and life sciences. Pharma leaders will increasingly need to focus on raising disease awareness and aiding HCPs in offering predictive and preventive interventions for patients based on wider data sources. Digital technologies can be instrumental here, as they facilitate the management and analysis of genetic information, providing insights into family history, disease propensities and how genetic makeup affects treatment modalities.

Life sciences companies must empower HCPs to elevate patient care, given their proximity to patients. HCPs are increasingly looking to Medical Science Liaisons (MSL) for knowledge and guidance on clinical research and new treatment modalities. At the same time, MSL executives influence critical decisions in medical affairs, therapy and disease management. A survey conducted in Spain revealed that 94 percent of pharma professionals believe that MSLs play a crucial role in compliance. 76 percent responded in the affirmative when asked about the strategic role (internally and externally) MSLs play in the company’s affairs.

Prioritizing Data Sharing

Disease-area sharing is one of the most critical priorities for pharma leaders striving to drive customer leadership. Patients’ foremost concern is receiving the most suitable treatment for their condition, irrespective of the producer. Therefore, the industry must redirect its focus. Rather than promoting specific products or treatments, it should empathize with patients and ascertain their genuine needs.

While this may seem self-evident, the solution is less apparent – and potentially challenging. Pharma leaders must set aside their competitive instincts and instead collaborate by sharing data with providers such as hospitals and HCPs. The more willing they are to share, the faster the development of drugs can become. 


HCP communications are shifting from push to pull as disease awareness among patients increases and they become more proactive in healthcare. The sharing of healthcare system data enables more precise, tailored communications. Life science companies must realign their internal incentives concerning these new behaviors. Despite the challenges this change presents, the result will be improved clinical outcomes and commercial returns.

To implement these changes and adopt an effective customer leadership strategy and mindset, pharma leaders must identify the “anchors” that are holding them back. They also need to recognize “the wind in their sails,” the opportunities available to dislodge these anchors and launch these transformation initiatives. 

Although the task may initially seem overwhelming, pharma leaders need to focus on three key actions:

  • Place customers at the heart of everything they do. 
  • Move faster and meet customer demands more quickly by adopting MVPs rather than full-scale prototypes.
  • Update and rethink incentives to align with the needs of HCPs and patients. 

The challenge might seem significant, but the rewards can be even greater.

Mark Halford
Mark Halford
Mark Halford is Corporate Vice President for Client Services, Life Sciences and Healthcare, at WNS, a leading provider of global business process management.