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Pfizer UK recruiting for new customer-focused salesforce

Published on 08/07/04 at 04:26pm


Pfizer has unveiled a new, restructured UK sales team designed to meet the needs of the NHS by aligning its huge resources with primary care organisation boundaries and customer needs.

The biggest pharma company in the world and the UK, Pfizer's restructure has been a year in the making and follows demands for the industry to respond to fundamental changes in the NHS, with Primary Care Organisations now calling the shots and in control of 75% of NHS budgets in England.

The headcount in the company's sales division currently stands at around 1,500 people, a huge number the company will increase by 150 with a recruitment drive across the UK to consolidate its new structure and to fill positions vacant since last year's merger with Pharmacia.

"This has been an enormous project for Pfizer which has involved 12 months of research and development," said sales operations director, Phillip Watts.

"However, we are confident that the new field force structure we now have in place will successfully meet the very different challenges of the health service that we face today, in particular focusing more time and effort on customer care."

Primary Care Representatives and Hospital Sales Representatives

The restructure retains the traditional primary care and hospital sales representatives, but these have now been realigned from older regional NHS bodies and now correspond with PCO boundaries.  

Organised in to teams of no more than ten reps covering primary and secondary care, Pfizer's new recruitment website says: "The teams will only manage between three to five products at a time and can thus be very focused and establish high levels of technical product knowledge and understanding."

Primary Care Account Managers (PCAMs)

Pfizer has also introduced a new type of sales executive - primary care account managers (PCAMs) The account managers will have responsibility across Pfizer's entire product portfolio within a small cluster of neighbouring PCOs.

PCAMs will develop relationships with key customers in these PCOs, meeting the need for more strategic collaboration that health service managers have been demanding.

Pfizer says PCAMs will "really need to understand the local customers and be able to make the most effective use of Pfizer's resources to ensure all our products have active sales targets."

Line management of sales representatives will be the responsibility of district sales managers, leaving PCAMs free to focus on long-term customer need and relationship building. Pfizer says PCAMs will focus on "working with our sales management teams to deploy our resources in the most effective way."

Clinical Effectiveness Consultants

Clinical Effectiveness Consultants (CECs) existed in Pfizer's previous model but their numbers will now increase as evidence-based medicines and delivering improved health outcomes becomes more important for the NHS and the industry. CECs will engage with key decision makers and opinion leaders in PCOs and hospitals and, as the name suggests, will use clinical and health economic arguments to influence local policies.

On the recruitment website, the company notes: "These roles are our big hitters and one successful call can turn our business round for months to come. This can only be achieved by really understanding our customers' agendas and by being 'in tune' with their needs.

Senior Sales Managers

Finally, five senior sales managers will be put in place to cover the UK, overseeing the work of all the new team members in their region, while also contributing to regional leadership teams with responsibilities on national 'core project teams'.

The announcement comes just days after medium-sized pharma company Takeda UK unveiled a radical shake-up of its salesforce; the company plans to make all of its current in-house salesforce redundant and rebuild itself around a network of 45 regional account directors (RADs) supported by contract sales organisation Ashfield.

Like the Pfizer move, the restructure is intended to make the company more customer-focused, particularly at PCO level.

A number of recent reforms, including the new general medical services (nGMS) contract have opened up the possibilities for greater industry/NHS collaborations in delivering services and patient outcomes. A new framework for partnerships has now been agreed by the ABPI and NHS Alliance, and will be unveiled next week.



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