The eagerly-awaited results of the premier poll of the UK medical sales market, where sales professionals become the judges, have arrived. Pf’s fifth Company Perception, Motivation and Satisfaction Survey has been conducted independently by the Royal Statistical Society – and as always, the results make essential viewing. We take a close look at the top performers of 2005. Has your company got the Rx factor?
The Company Perception, Motivation and Satisfaction Survey is one of the most significant pieces of research in the UK medical sales industry. Constructed by the Royal Statistical Society at the Nottingham Trent University, the survey provides a benchmark of field force remuneration, motivation, satisfaction and recruitment.
This year there were 1,507 respondents to the survey – marginally higher than the previous study in 2004. Yet again, the results provide a stimulating insight into the industry, the general feeling in the field, and what motivates medical representatives. The survey also highlights readers’ Employers of Choice, offering a fascinating glimpse of how pharmaceutical companies are perceived externally. The five-year history of the survey provides a useful benchmark for the progress the industry is making.
The following analysis of the 2005 survey looks at five specific categories – the Rx factors. The final judgements are here.
1. ‘Across the Universe’
The profile of survey respondents was broad, underlining the diversity of individuals who pursue careers in medical sales.
Rx Factor judgement:
The 2005 sample bore a striking resemblance to the previous survey in terms of size and the most frequently represented age group. The latter statistic has remained constant throughout the survey’s five-year history. However, it is worth noting that the 35-44 age band was only one percentage point lower than the most common band (25–34), and that 58% of the sample were over the age of 35. This is reflected in the sample’s experience, with over half of the respondents having worked for over 8 years in the medical sales industry – a clear increase from 2004.
2. ‘You’re the One That I Want’
Respondents were asked to score pharmaceutical companies according to their perception of them and how desirable they were to work for (1 = very low, 3 = no comment, 5 = very high). As always, respondents were not permitted to nominate their own company. The final results represent a balance between positive and negative perceptions.
Rx Factor judgement:
Roche has emerged as the Employer of Choice for 2005, toppling Eli Lilly, who had topped the chart in the previous two years. Boehringer Ingelheim retained second spot, while Schering-Plough, Janssen-Cilag, Schering Healthcare, Procter & Gamble and Novartis all returned consistent performances. GSK made a welcome return to the top 10 after a year away, but there was still no place for two of the sector’s big guns, Pfizer and AstraZeneca. In fact, the remarkable advances in the perceptions of small-to-medium sized pharma companies continued in 2005, with the top 20 including a growing number of smaller companies. Pf will examine this trend later this year.
This experience is matched by results, with 70% of respondents claiming to have either ‘above average’ sales results or being among the highest sales in their company. The sample, therefore, is of a higher than average quality – which is reflected in the remuneration analysis later in the article.
Respondents were asked to indicate which aspects of their working environment were important to them, and how satisfied they were with a range of fifteen motivational factors. The four major employment categories revealed the following results:
Rx Factor judgement:
Clearly, sales professionals remain motivated by their salary. Interestingly, they appear less motivated by other elements of a remuneration package such as bonuses, car policy, pensions and share schemes. Equally, respondents find that good working relationships with their direct managers are important; while for front line sales professionals, belief in their products is essential.
In fact, all four major employment categories demonstrated belief in their current products. The industry also seems to be satisfying its sales representatives with regard to pensions, which were a high-profile news topic across all industries throughout 2005. The previous Pf survey hinted at a degree of anxiety over the state of product pipelines. However, it would appear that confidence in R&D has returned, with future product pipelines picked as a leading source of satisfaction across all categories.
4. ‘Money, Money, Money’
The issue of remuneration, and specifically salary, commonly earns the most attention when survey results are published. Clearly, pay structures differ from company to company and are based on a number of complex factors. The Company Perception, Motivation and Satisfaction Survey gathers and analyses remuneration data in a variety of ways. For the purpose of this article, Pf has focused on the median figure for salaries, where ‘median’ is the value in the middle when all values are put in order from smallest to largest. The median figure is different from the average (mean) figure.
It is important to recognise that pharma companies traditionally consider the length of service and quality of results when calculating salary. The following median results need to be assessed in the context of what is a highperforming and experienced survey respondent profile. With over half of the sample (51%) having over 8 years’ experience in medical sales, and 70% of it comprising above average performers and highest achievers, it is only to be expected that the figures for median salaries and bonus payments would be high.
The message for sales professionals who believe they are underpaid, therefore, is to persevere and focus on further improving results – and the rewards will follow.
Rx Factor judgement:
According to the survey, 60% of respondents across all categories consider that their remuneration package is appropriate for the job they do. This continues what appears to be a maturing trend within the sector with regard to how sales professionals are rewarded for their endeavour. In 2003, over half of the market believed they were underpaid. By 2005, two-thirds appear content with their remuneration packages. While we would all argue for more money, this shift in perception is clearly good news for pharmaceutical companies.
5. ‘Should I Stay or Should I Go?’
Finally, the survey revealed an increase in the number of respondents looking to move companies. While over half of the sample (56%) indicated that they were happy to remain in their current positions, 16% are considering moving companies – which is up from 13% in 2004. Moreover, a further 23% would consider moving position within the same company.
For the second year running, the majority of sales professionals appear to be happy with their products, their management and, crucially, their salaries. However, an increased number of respondents are looking for their next move – but the lure of big pharma is no longer as powerful as before.
Voting lines for the Rx Factor have now closed. But, as ever, the competition continues.