Results from the Pf survey find medical sales executives are slowly adjusting to NHS reforms and widespread company restructures.
It’s been another eventful 12 months within the medical sales industry. As the industry continues to announce job losses the Pf survey provides sales executives with an anonymous voice to have their say on the good, bad and ugly sides of their job.
It’s an uncertain time to be working in the medical sales industry. Pharmaceutical bosses might be making the right noises and towing the company line but the industry is fighting against a number of forces. Within the last twelve months a series of large pharmaceutical companies have been forced to use the two words no medical sales professional wants to read on an internal memo: austerity measures.
The result of price cuts across Europe, as governments continues to tighten their belts, and pipelines continue to fail has been a formula even the most trusted research and development teams have failed to solve a way around. But where do these measures, and what they mean in the long term, leave sales executives working within the industry? The Pf Company, Perception, Motivation and Satisfaction Survey provides an annual temperature check of those working within the pharmaceutical and medical sales industry to gauge opinions.
The survey – now in its 11th year – lets respondents have their say on the things that matter the most to them. It focuses on everyday factors which either make going to work a joy or a struggle and reflects the opinion of staff on key issues such as remuneration, motivation, satisfaction, perception and recruitment.
Motivation and satisfaction
The results of the 2012 survey, which relate to 2011, show that once again money makes the work go around. For the fifth year in a row, salary was chosen as the main motivating factor from the 1,215 respondents. It’s also no surprise that job security was chosen as the second highest motivating factor with the wide spread job cuts employees will have witnessed in the last year.
In fact, there was only change in the top 18 motivating factors (see Figure 1) from last year’s survey – personal development swapping places with autonomy. Surprisingly, respondents appreciated being given the freedom to make individual decisions more than the opportunity to progress up the career ladder.
Motivational factors may not have changed much in the last twelve months, but satisfaction factors certainly have. Belief in present products again came out on top but there were big declines in satisfaction levels in company culture and salary – which dropped four places, respectively – and in car policy which dropped from 10th last year to towards the bottom of the chart in 16th. Companies abandoning their principles to make people redundant, whilst trimming or freezing wages and taking back company cars and fuel cards did not go unnoticed by the field force.
But it’s not all bad for organisations – they have been doing other things right. Satisfaction levels in pension schemes, work-life balance and training all improved slightly. Accountability for sales and recognition of achievements also improved. But it was in job security where respondents said they were the most satisfied. After being voted as the 14th highest satisfying factor last year, the survey found pharma companies had made improvements in assuring staff their jobs were safe in the last twelve months as it improved three places.
Facts and figures
The number of total respondents – see Figure 2 – totalled almost an identical number to the 2009 survey. For a third successive year, the number of primary care and primary care and secondary care sales executives fell slightly – and now accounts for a third of overall respondents. The number of hospital specialists also dropped slightly. However, numbers of first-line managers (10%) reverted back to their usual figure after falling the year before.
Although numbers of primary care, secondary care and hospital specialists are down when compared to the turn of the millennium, the recent raft of job losses in the industry doesn’t seem to have impacted experienced and valued team members. The number of respondents with more than eight years’ experience within the industry continues to grow. Almost three-quarters (73%) of respondents say they have now worked in the medical sales industry for eight years or more – nearly double the amount that could say that nine years ago. However, those with between two and eight years’ experience may have been presented with their P45, after figures dropped slightly. More worryingly, the amount of people who said they had started a new job within the industry in the last year totalled only 2.3%.
Employer of choice
Away from motivational and satisfaction factors, the survey also quizzes respondents on the company they would most like to work for. For the fifth year running Boehringer Ingleheim again topped the charts as the 2012 Employer of Choice. In recent years, Roche has followed closely behind but lost the runner’s up position this year to Eli Lilly – who moved up a position from third. Novo Nordisk again established its position within the top five, with Abbott Laboratories the biggest mover as it improved on last year’s 10th position to finish fifth this year.
Napp and Bristol-Myers Squibb – which jumped seven places in the chart – both made a return to the top ten after missing out on a place last year. Astellas also had reason to celebrate as it entered the top ten for the first after respondents voted it in eighth position.
The Pf Company Perception, Motivation and Satisfaction Survey has been conducted annually by HSP, publishers of Pf, since 2002. It provides a benchmark of field force renumeration, motivation, satisfaction, perception and recruitment. As the Survey is managed by Dr B Payne of Conker Statistics – a fellow of the Royal Statistical Society – and respondents are anonymous, it is able to provide a unique and impartial snapshot of workforce attitudes at the time the research is conducted. These latest results were gathered in early 2012, but relate to 2011 and the early part of the year.