Is Your Pharmaceutical Sales Team Ready to Execute?

3 Steps to Flawless Sales Execution

The pharmaceutical industry has been far less impacted by the pandemic than most other industries. With modest single-digit declines in sales, the sector has fared relatively well. The most significant factor to a slowing of growth has been attributed to a reduction in in-person meetings between sales representatives and physicians.

With a large portion of physicians and frontline healthcare workers receiving vaccines, companies are considering the timing as to when they can shift from virtual calls to in-person meetings with their physicians.

There are many factors to consider when turning on the green light to going back to in-person selling, such as 1. Your employees’ health and safety; 2. Are your physicians ready to start seeing your reps?; and 3. Are your reps prepared to start making calls?

These are questions that senior management needs to carefully consider before sending their reps into the field. The reality is, between now and year-end, you will be making that call. As the VP of Sales and Marketing, you will be tasked with ensuring that your team is ready and able to significantly impact sales.

The business units that are going to have the biggest impact in the first three months of back to normal are the ones that will execute with excellence. This is not the time to leave your results to chance.

I have been in the industry and have led salesforces and coached and mentored sales executives over the last 30 years. I have helped clients consistently drive double-digit growth. My secret to success comes down to execution.

Most senior commercial leaders are great at developing brilliant strategies but struggle when it comes to execution. Your first 90 days back are going to have a significant impact on your results over the next year. It comes down to one factor and one factor only – how well will they execute over the next 90 days.

The companies that can have flawless execution will reap the rewards, while those that don’t will see much slower growth.

How to Boost Your Sales by Flawless Sales Execution

I want to share my 3 Steps to Flawless Sales Execution in the first 90 days of in-person selling. The key to success starts with having a hyper-focused plan, intense field coaching and formal cadence. Before I share my formula for executing with excellence, I would like to remind you of the definition of execution.

“Execution is the discipline to get the most important things done really well.”

Flawless Sales Execution Step 1: Begins with a Plan

It seems evident that to execute with excellence, you need to develop an execution plan. Given most companies don’t have a template for building and execution plans, I follow the format below: 

  • Firstly, you need to bring together the key drivers of your execution plan, which includes your frontline sales managers in the development phase, as you must align and get their buy-in to the plan
  • Prioritize and agree upon the three things that your team must do to be highly successful. These are defined as your critical success factors (CSFs)
  • Develop a plan of action for each of the specific actions your team must take to achieve each of the critical success factors (the how’s)
  • Set standards of performance on how you are going to measure each CSF 

Flawless Sales Execution Step 2: Lead from the Frontline

To ensure that each of your reps is executing with excellence, have their sales managers join them in the field to observe what they are doing and what they need to do. Coaching your reps is critical. During any critical POA, product launch or blitz program, sales managers must work in the field where observations and coaching is essential.

Expect your sales team to be rusty, given that they have not been in the field for the last year. It is vital that your sales managers are in the field 100% of the time in the first month and then 80% the second month and 60% the third month, as this will allow them to lead execution and maximize their reps’ impact.

Flawless Sales Execution Step 3: Requires Discipline 

To ensure the plan is on track, it is essential to schedule regular meetings to keep everyone accountable. I have clients set up two sets of meetings and schedule them all in advance, so everyone involved knows they will be held accountable.

One thing to consider is that there is a lag between activity and results. It takes several calls to see a bump in prescriptions. This means I would focus my reviews on activity rather than results.

  1. Monthly Execution Review Meeting:

This is a 1-hour meeting with each rep and their manager to look at how well each rep has executed against performance standards for the month and what is the reps plan for the next month.

  1. Bi-weekly Sales Leaders Execution Review Meeting:

With your sales managers being out in the field leading/coaching execution, they will see first-hand what challenges and successes their reps are having. This bi-weekly 1-hour meeting allows sales managers to share best practices and discuss what is working and what is not and allows management to take quick corrective action.


These three elements of planning, leading and reviewing require intense discipline. However, by following these steps, you will ensure your team executes with excellence.

If you have any comments, please feel free to provide your thoughts. If you have any questions or would like a copy of my Sales Execution Template, just DM me.

Click here to download a FREE copy of my eBook “Strategy Execution” What Awesome Sales and Marketing Leaders are Doing to Execute with Excellence.

flawless sales execution