A recent article on pharmexec.com highlights a growing trend in the pharmaceutical industry –downsizing sales forces in favor of digital selling methods. While organizations that reduce their number of sales reps may be saving costs, they are also missing out on a key aspect necessary for continued success: the personal touch.
Physicians have the very personal job of providing treatment to heal their patients – and many prefer maintaining a personal connection in their dealings with pharmaceutical companies. Yet, a majority of the digital promotion channels leveraged by the industry simply don’t allow for a personal connection with physicians. As digital selling replaces the personal selling model, the entire industry will have to develop more innovative methods that are physician-focused and maintain some level of a personal touch.
The article cites a study conducted by QuantiaMD, a physician network, and Capgemini Consulting to see how physicians engage with various sales and marketing channels. The results show that independent medical websites and communities are the top choice (chosen as the Number 1 and Number 2 choice by 61 percent of respondents) for physicians to receive product information. Medical and clinical liaisons and pharmaceutical reps (42 percent and 40 percent, respectively) were also at the top, emphasizing the desire for human interaction. However, many of the new digital channels pharmaceutical companies have embraced, such as their own websites, email, tele-detailing and social media, fail to gain the anticipated traction as they were not cited as top choices by most study participants.
The lack of engagement in these new channels can be due to a number of reasons, like the inconvenience of visiting multiple company websites, email fatigue from the abundance of messages and lack of customization of these channels for the user. Still, the question remains: how do companies reconcile a reduced sales force with the fact that new marketing channels do not appear to be adequately engaging their client base?
There will always be a place for the sales rep, the pharmaceutical company’s greatest promotional asset. Many physicians still value the rep relationship. The CRM solutions offered by StayinFront allow pharmaceutical companies to leverage digital media and preserve the personal touch. StayinFront Life Sciences provides sales reps with a robust tool for leveraging customer and market information to improve their sales effectiveness. SaaS solutions that are available on smartphones and tablets allow reps to utilize digital technology to enhance the level of service they provide. With a quick and easy method for capturing, tracking and storing key aspects of their sales and marketing activities, sales reps can provide physicians with the service they are looking for – a customized approach that combines digital strategies with a highly personalized level of service.