Before you start any CI project the most important activity is to define the key intelligence topics and key intelligence questions.
I’ve seen many projects fail because the intelligence requirements were not clearly defined at the beginning of the project. I believe that requirements’ definition is the foundation for the entire CI process. It demands effective stakeholder interaction, ability to understand the competitive landscape and key business assumptions.
In my view, the successful CI professionals are the ones who can anticipate stakeholder requirements and can define those requirements in detail. When you ask only general questions, you get general answers that are not conducive to decision-making.
I have developed lists of standard questions to simplify the intelligence requirement process. These lists are used to help us think systematically about the different aspects of the business. Also, they help our clients to develop more detailed questions based on knowledge gaps.
The below list is focused only on commercial intelligence questions:
- Importance of product/business unit to the competitor:
- What is the current and future importance of product/business unit to the company?
- What is the company’s portfolio strategy? How are portfolio synergies leveraged?
- Who are the local, regional and/or global competitors?
- How does the company plan to grow product/business unit? How will resources be prioritized among portfolio?
- In the case of loss of exclusivity, how does the company plan to offset loss in sales? Any budget cuts expected? How will resources be re-prioritized?
- How the competitors leverage commercial partnerships:
- Any partnerships for commercial activities? (e.g. contract sales organizations)
- How does competitor coordinate commercial strategy with partners? What synergies and/or challenges do the companies face?
- How is the product being co-promoted? Is positioning the same among partners? Are sales trainings done together?
- What is the revenue split model? What are the incentives for both companies?
- Are there any issues in the partnerships or what are they key factors to their success?
- Are new commercial partnerships being planned?
- How the competitors target customers
- Will specific patient segments be targeted for key indications?
- Which healthcare professionals (HCPs) are being targeted for promotion?
- What support services does the company provide to patients and HCPs?
- Any new services being planned for target costumers?
- Product Attributes & Promotion
- What is the product’s messaging and positioning? Any changes in strategy vs. previous year?
- What is the unique selling proposition?
- Which studies are being promoted to physicians?
- Counter strategy and counter messaging to client’s products
- Which promotional activities are being conducted and planned? What is the promotional budget?
- Any plans for new indications?
- What pre-marketing activities are being conducted for new products/indications?
- Will new technologies be used to increase product sales?
- Pricing & Market Access
- What will be the product’s payer / pricing strategy for the different indications?
- Any innovative commercial models with payers (eg.: risk-sharing)?
- What is the product’s value proposition?
- How are they aiming to get reimbursement?
- Which data will they use to demonstrate value?
- Marketing Team
- What is the company’s commercial structure and size?
- What are the roles and responsibilities?
- How aligned are the local, regional and global teams in developing their marketing strategy?
- Field Force (FF) KITs
- What is the field force structure and size?
- Which stakeholders are being targeted?
- What is the promotional grid? Which products and indications are being prioritized?
- How are sales incentives being calculated?
- Who does the field force see as the key competitors?
- How many medical science liaisons (MSLs)?
- How do sales team and MSLs collaborate?
- Is free sampling being done (# of treatments given to doctors on each visit)?
- What activities are they conducting with stakeholders?
About the author: Salvador Carlucci is the Founder of Atacana Group, a boutique agency focused on Competitive Intelligence and Strategy. He is the former Global Head of Competitive Intelligence for Roche/Genentech. Prior to that he was the Global Head of Competitive Intelligence for Novartis.