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4 Ways Commercial Excellence is Different: Europe vs USA

How can commercial excellence be different? 4 ways which describe this situation.

Budget constraints across all industries in recent years have forced organizations to find new ways to grow their top and bottom lines. in the healthcare industry; cost containment initiatives by payers, governments and health care insurance organizations, controlled pricing, the rise of generics and the lack of sufficient roi from “blockbuster” drugs have create a challenging business environment. a recent study by roland berger revealed that commercial excellence is the most important lever for organic growth. implementing a commercially excellent model is a global change project, however one size does not fit all and geographical differences must be taken into account to succeed…

Perceptions of Commercial Excellence differ between European organizations and US organizations. Cultural differences are the main cause of this.  America places a greater emphasis on customer relationship and partnering whereas Europe puts emphasis on sales process and technologyIgnoring differences between geographical areas may increase the challenges occurring when initiating centrally-steered Commercial Excellence initiatives. In order to succeed, a model which is globally consistent yet locally relevant should be implemented.

This post outlines 4 ways Commercial Excellence is different in USA and Europe and 4 keys to implementing a globally consistent model. (Insights are based on the Roland Berger Commercial Excellence Survey)


4 Key Differences between Europe and North America on the understanding of Commercial Excellence:

– Top Drivers of Commercial Excellence.

– Customer Segmentation and its purpose.

– Sales Channels.

– Salesforce Effectiveness.


1. Top Drivers of Commercial Excellence

In North America, improvement of marketing & sales interaction is the most important driver for achieving Commercial Excellence. Specifically respondents indicated that improvement of marketing and sales interaction with regard to key processes/joint topics was a priority for success.

The most important lever for achieving Commercial Excellence in Europe is strengthening of sales force with regard to competencies, methodology, and leadership capabilities.

2. Customer Segmentation

North American companies primarily use the endmarkets customer participate in as criteria to differentiate between customers. European companies segment customers mainly based on customer value and customer needs.

The primary purpose of segmentation for all is defining suitable product service pricing, optimizing product & service portfolio and defining sales/KAM team capabilities.

The major difference between Europe and North America is reported that US companies place a higher importance on resourcing cost-intensive sales channels and European companies value defining sales/KAM team capabilities more than their US counterparts.

The following is a set of key findings and recommendations from Clarity in terms of “what works” and “what doesn’t work” when implementing a globally consistent (yet locally relevant) account model.

Source: Roland Berger

3. Sales Channels

Technical Sales, sales representatives & KAM reported to be the most important sales channels across all industries and geographies. Both regions indicated a lower importance for specific websites.

Key Account Management is one of the most valuable sales channels available across industries and continents. This aligns with the healthcare industry where KAM is indicated to be the number one more successful new commercial model implemented followed by clinical sales force and service rep model.

North American companies tend to be more innovative than their European counterparts in their KAM implementations. KAM and R&D partnering is the most novel KAM technique reported.


4. Salesforce Effectiveness

US based- companies sales channel steering is based on traditional methods (87%) like CRM systems or sales volume based KPIs. European companies are reported to perform Key Account Management in more traditional ways, including among others one face to the customer and relationship building events & activities European sales channel steering widely focuses on traditional methods like CRM systems or sales volume based KPIs.

While KAM, Value-Based Marketing and Pricing are hailed as the most important salesforce capabilities, they also rank as the least fulfilled capability. This rings true in the healthcare industry where 75% of organizations admit to re-purposing traditional sales as KAM without any real change.


4 Keys to Implementing a Globally Consistent Commercial Excellence Strategy:

1. Develop a Universal Understanding

Define a common language and understanding of Commercial Excellence terms.

2. Don’t be Overwhelmed by Regional processes

Avoid becoming overly focused on comparisons of existing tools and processes across different countries.

3. Focus on End Goal

Keep the big picture in mind and establish a common mind-set.

4. Successful Regional Solutions

Research best practices and effective approaches to solve similar problems with different solutions, dependent on country/region.

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