The Top Five Areas Requiring Commercial Expertise

Image of bullseye and blocks for article on product launches.

Having launched dozens of biotech products, I have had a front row seat to good product launches, excellent product launches and those that one would never want to repeat.  Interestingly, there are five key areas that separate an excellent market entry from one that has issues (or doesn’t happen at all).

For many companies, hiring a commercial team early on is not fiscally feasible.  Hence, they tend to overlook some key areas or “fill in the blanks” without commercial guidance.  Both approaches are risky, but there is an alternative.  An Interim Chief Commercial Officer (#iCCO) can serve this key role at about 50% of the cost and less risk than investing in a full time Chief Commercial Officer.  An iCCO can help ensure an excellent market launch that brings success to the team, the investors and the researchers or patients who benefit from the product.

What are the five areas in need of commercial expertise?  They are:

KOL strategy – Identifying key opinion leaders and educating them to become advocates for the product is an essential step in the launch process.  KOLs serve as peer leaders who can provide the company with vital information on the market and customer needs.   In addition, KOLs serve as brand advocates, representing the company at conferences and industry trade shows.

Competitive Landscape – Knowing the players and their offerings is essential for market entry.  If you think about market entry as a board game, you must know the players and anticipate the moves they may make.  It is not enough to make a current assessment, you must think ahead, anticipate their moves, anticipate new entrants and ensure you have a strategy for this changing market landscape.

Forecasting – An accurate forecast requires a great deal of analysis and assumptions based on data and commercial experience.  A great forecast ensures that the product build is accurate, eliminating issues with making too much or too little inventory.  It also supports the sales forecast for each geography.

Pricing/Reimbursement – What are you charging?  Why are you charging that price?  How much are the payers getting reimbursed?  All three of these questions are equally important.  You can price yourself out of the market.  You can leave money on the table or you can miss the mark on reimbursements by not understanding all of the details.  

Education – This is two-fold.  Making sure you have the tools to educate the medical community and having the tolls to educate and train the sales team.  What is your product story?  How do you explain the science behind the product and how it is better that the current solution?  Preparing these tools to effectively educate your stakeholders is a step that cannot be missed or done as an afterthought.

Product commercialization requires the expertise of a commercial expert.  Someone who has the expertise to get the answers needed and expose the landmines that the executive team may not see.