CSL Behring Decreases Field Planning Time by Up to 50%

A few years ago, CSL Behring began a journey to improve commercial operations. We were looking to streamline our field planning process, reduce errors, and improve our targeting and alignments. So, in the midst of COVID-19, we rolled out the Veeva Platform including Veeva Align across 32 countries in 18 months.

The results? A 30-50% decrease in our field planning cycle time, an upskilled workforce, and a more engaged field executing their target plans.

I believe two main components of our success were: empowering employees with high-value skills and improving communication between sales and marketing, fostering positive change across the organization.

Upskilling employees to execute high-value tasks

Before Align, many of our small affiliates did a lot of field planning work in Excel. The process was laborious and caused a lot of inefficiencies and data inconsistencies. But the tool required very little additional training and was familiar to sales analysts or, as I call them, data wranglers.

Now Align has automated so many previously manual tasks that our data wranglers (who were responsible for organizing sales data) have almost no wrangling left to do. Even though they were glad to be rid of these Excel-based manual tasks, they also had some concerns. What used to take up most of their day was now automated to a few clicks and they weren’t sure what to do with the freed-up time.

We recognized this as an opportunity and started collaborating with their managers to provide additional education on data analysis. After just a few sessions of extra training on analyzing target lists and feedback information, our sales analysts began realizing the value their analysis could bring to the targeting process.

They’re now performing high-level data analysis and targeting tasks and are even more valuable to CSL Behring. This transition has improved our data quality immensely, allowing us to hone in on the highest value targets with confidence.

Breaking down the communication barrier

When it came to implementing multichannel cycle plans (MCCPs) and tracking field feedback, we also had to tackle change management. We discovered significant variations in maturity levels for the call planning process across different markets. Some markets never formalized a process for identifying targets and tracking progress, while others had existing processes being transformed. We encountered resistance to change on both ends of the spectrum with sales leadership posing our biggest hurdle.

At first, our field teams thought that MCCPs were just for the home office to monitor their work, so we had to educate sales leaders on the benefits of formalizing the call plan process. Not only were we emphasizing the gains for the organization, but also the value for their field teams.

A key part of this was the integrated field feedback Align provides. Our reps’ feedback used to be a completely under-utilized resource. But when we told the field that we could now use their feedback to shape strategy in the home office and backed it up with a reliable process for responding, they were far more receptive.

The true breakthrough moment came when we bridged the communication gap between marketing and sales. Although marketing isn’t a named user in our CRM system, their input and output through MCCPs plays a crucial role and was pivotal in gaining buy-in from field teams. Marketing ensured our field teams knew the purpose behind implementing these multichannel cycle plans — to inform and focus targeting and synchronize personal and non-personal field efforts. Then, once our reps saw how much simpler the process was with Align, enabling consistent analysis of their feedback and quick changes to reflect their input, they really committed to the MCCP process.

Of course, there are still varying maturity levels in call plan usage across different markets. But now, similar markets are all using the same framework, so we have a more consistent process overall. And our field teams’ feedback is being leveraged by our home office and marketing teams.

With this improved collaboration, we can learn from and adapt based on the valuable insights gained in the field. And field teams feel more supported by the home office to have control over their target lists. Instead of seeing it as the home office pushing a list on them, it feels like it’s their list that they informed and committed to.

Driving companywide change

Implementing Align and conducting internal change management has allowed us to prioritize team communication, empower skill development, and fully leverage our field teams’ expertise. As a result, our field force excels in delivering impactful interactions, fostering stronger customer relationships, and ultimately driving growth.

After replacing manual processes, we gave our sales analysts new direction by enabling them to engage in higher-value activities that better support our go-to-market strategy. Marketing is now focused on precisely targeting the right audience, while our field teams can drive more impactful change faster than ever with streamlined field feedback. As a company, we’ve gained speed, agility, and improved output.

I don’t want to downplay the obstacles we faced; implementing this change demanded hard work and strategic thinking. However, if I were to offer advice to anyone hesitating, it would be to take the leap. Even if the initial stages are challenging, the process will continually get smoother, and your organization will save time and resources while improving return on investment.

Want to learn more about making the most of field feedback? Watch this 2-minute video.

John Bunn has worked for CSL Behring for over 20 years. In his current role, he designs and maintains innovative processes and solutions to enable Global Commercial Operations field teams.

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