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Increasing Field Effectiveness

Increasing Sales Effectiveness


Lextech partnered with a top 20 global pharmaceutical to improve the efficacy of their sales force. First, I led a 6-week exploratory engagement to discover top pain points and worked with the field to create and prioritize solutions. Next, my team built the first solution on our roadmap, an app that helped sales reps prepare for calls with physicians, in 3 months.

My Role: 

I was the lead designer and researcher. I planned our timelines and represented design in all client meetings. I trained a product owner to be my co-researcher. During agile development, I designed the screens with the other designer, collaborated closely with our development team to ensure what we were building would work well, ran all of our user sessions, and also took on the role of managing what business logic needed to be applied to the data in our apps.

​My Impact: 

  • Created a prioritized roadmap and concept video to share and implement our vision for a more effective sales force

  • Validated concepts, data, and screens for an app that turned a 20+ minute process with 3 different systems into a 5 minute process on one screen

  • Built relationships with the 30 sales reps we worked with to be advocates of our collective vision and work


Step 1: Stakeholder Alignment
Getting the team comfortable exploring a wide range of possibilities

As we began semi-structured interviews and workshops with the team, it became clear that people were having a hard time thinking beyond today's issues to imagining what completely new paradigms could be. I led the team through a breakup letter exercise to give people a chance to have the much-needed therapy session about their current struggles. It also allowed people to start imagining what new relationships with their tools they might enter. This activity was crucial to our team generating new possibilities for what tools might best support them.

EXTERNAL FFE Summary - Breakup Letter Ex

The description of the breakup letter and example I used to lead the exercise

Step 2: Defining Scope

What does effective mean? What prevents sales reps from being effective?

Now that the team was able to think outside of the current reality, I focused on the project's core research question: What does effective mean for the field force? The client came to Lextech wondering how to make their sales reps more effective, but they didn't have a clear understanding of what effectiveness meant, especially not one that allowed for flexibility in the role as reps moved from face to face calls to virtual sales. To better understand effectiveness, I ran semi-structured interviews with sales reps and the clients at headquarters to understand individual opinions on effectiveness. I chose semi-structured interviews to begin to build individual relationships with our team and to have space for follow up questions. These were run similarly to an Indi Young listening session. From there, we ran a group activity in a workshop to align on a definition and some of the success metrics tied to efficacy (whether those metrics already existed or not).

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EXTERNAL FFE Summary - Effectiveness Set

Notes from our effectiveness conversation in Miro

Step 3: Journey Map Creation

Training a Product Owner to Run + Synthesize User Sessions

This project was unique because my co-researcher was a PO with no user research experience. In addition to teaching her the basics of research, including how to ask open ended questions, a few things that ensured our success were:

  1. Mapping out our assumptions at the beginning of the engagement and returning to them - We wrote out our assumptions, as well as our confidence for each one and their risk at the beginning of the project and reviewed them on a weekly basis. This allowed me to question when her perspective might have been informed by her biases instead of our observations. In addition, since I had experience with other clients in pharmaceuticals, it ensured I saw where this company was different instead of solely relying on previous knowledge.

  2. Focusing on her goals as a PO - Understanding what her questions as a PO were allowed me to explain how our research would inform her work as a PO. In addition, I was able to connect how we conducted user research to her existing mindset. For example, since she needed to know what use cases we supported and what systems we needed to work with, she was able to quickly run with task analysis activities, since they answered so many of her questions directly. I'd often let her moderate and then would play the role of connecting what we heard to what we observed in our debrief sessions. This let us identify top pain points and also understand the why behind each step to inform potential solutions.

  3. Share ownership over the process - Even in Phase 2, when she focused on PO work full-time and I took led our user research solo, our team was successful and informed by research because we were transparent about what unknowns research was answering. I'd share our top questions with the team as I wrote discussion guides for each sprint and would follow up with what we learned in videos of the designs explaining why we made our design decisions in our slack. That way, anyone on our team could give feedback on our plan quickly.


EXTERNAL FFE Summary - Rubric Definition

Left: The miro board we used to create the emotional scoring rubric collaboratively. Right: Part of our journey map for the virtual call.

Step 4: Insights to Action
Sharing a Concept Video + Letting User Insights Drive Prioritization

The final deliverable of the exploratory research engagement was a backlog of solutions that would increase the sales force's effectiveness. To communicate in a common language, I created a concept video highlighting how each of the solutions might look and what role they'd play in the field force's day to day. To prioritize what to build first, we looked at dependencies in the project compared to cost and value of each idea.

One insight from our exploratory research that informed our development direction was the idea of a "Hybrid Hustle". The client had assumed that, post-COVID, the field force would want to go back to being 100% in person. However, we heard about the value of virtual communication from the field force. Anything we built would only be enthusiastically adopted if it worked for both virtual and in-person interactions. This led us to start with the pre-call planning, a process that would look the same regardless of if someone was at home or on the road.


Screenshot from our concept video about a day in the life of a sales rep and medical scientist in the future. This video was so well received, it was forward to International groups in Asia for knowledge sharing!

Payer Mix Split.png

Left: One of the cards from our final pre-call planning app. This card had the most important script information for sales reps and was designed to be repurposed as a widget.  Right: A screen shot from our Teams channel.

Step 5: Supporting Agile Development
Continuous Discovery

I used multiple methodologies to get input throughout phase 2 including: co-creation sessions, semi-structured interviews, surveys, a Teams chat group, and usability tests. One of my favorite ways of ensuring the full team advocated for our users was inviting 5 users to our weekly team meetings. They'd provide ad hoc feedback and drive decisions so that the client team at headquarters understood their perspective. This also let them see our weekly progress and become advocates for our work.

It has been an absolute joy working with you and the entire team.  I really appreciate the effort you guys have put forth and am in awe of how you guys continue to place the bar higher each week.  You should take much pride in knowing that this product will have a profound impact on the sales team’s functionality and efficiency."

-User on our feedback team

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