No Need to Choose – How Digital Marketing and Pharmaceutical Sales Teams Can Work in Unison
Have you noticed that sometimes it seems good things come in 3’s? The iPhone is finally available on Verizon, Samsung has released the Galaxy Tab, and Apple sells 8-gazillion iPad 2s on its first weekend.
In our industry, the latest meme now spreading through the magazines and blogs can be summed up in three recent articles:
- Drug Makers Replace Reps with Digital Tools, The Wall Street Journal
- Gladiators of the Digital Age – How can reps remain essential as the industry turns to online sales tactics, Pharmaceutical Representative
- The Changing Role of Pharma Sales Reps, Reaching Physicians Requires a New Level of Sophistication, Pharma Marketing News
So what’s going on here? Is the rule of three working its random magic or are we at a tipping point?
We’re not going to rehash all of the reasons why digital technologies and channels are finally having the impact that many have predicted for more than 10 years. We instead would like to focus on how eMarketing and digital promotions can be used to support the traditional sales channel and actually empower pharma sales teams by making them more relevant and valuable to the HCPs they are calling on.
In other words, it’s not an either-or situation.
Here are a few examples of emerging technologies and approaches that can be deployed now to close the loop between digital and traditional sales and marketing approaches.
1) Digital Sales Force Access Programs – For years, pharma brands have used medical text books as access tools to the HCPs. As this program grows into the digital space, reps can leverage the assets for even greater access. Brand managers can now arm their sales force with a whole menu of premium digital content. Reps can provide the options, help the HCPs download the assets, and then help them install and understand how to use the mobile texts on their smartphones or tablets, providing multiple touchpoints and a deeper relationship. In fact, reps will not only be notified when their HCPs receive non-personal promotional items, but can even control what items the HCPs receive.
2) Sales Force Notifications – Sales reps are expected to develop relationships with the HCPs in their territory and understand the mindset of their customers. How can they do this if the brand is targeting their HCPs with eMail, eDetailing, ePrescribing, eSampling and Mobile campaigns and the sales teams are not kept up-to-date and informed as to how their customers are responding?
A sales force notification strategy ensures that sales management and teams are notified when their customers respond to digital tactics such as participating in an online eDetail and making an eSample request. This is a necessity if “closed loop marketing” is to be more than just another buzzword in the industry.
3) Rep-Supported eSampling Program – Prescribers like samples. Nothing new there. Brand teams know that and arm their sales reps with samples, which is one of the most effective means for gaining access. However, more and more HCPs are using the digital channel to make their sample requests. Does this mean the sales rep is left out in the cold? Not necessarily. In a recent article in the Wall Street Journal reports that “when a physician places an e-order, it’s flagged to his or her sales rep, who has 48-hours to step in and personally take over the order. If the rep doesn’t act, the order is filled electronically.”
4) Messaging at the Point-of-Care via ePrescribing – With the rapid growth of ePrescribing, messaging to the prescriber at the point-of-care based upon the medication they are researching or selecting is a reality. Want to offer samples, patient coupons, a whitepaper, or the latest clinical research? Communicate these offers at the point-of-care and route the request through your sales team empowering them with value-added material that the prescribers actually want and request.
“Sales reps will continue to bring important information to the physician so that they augment their online capability with the nuances of changes that might occur within their respective therapies, such as a new indication, or a new product coming out”, said Physicians Interactive’s CEO, Donato Tramuto. “Reps will become specialists and more critical in terms of long-term education as opposed to on-the-spot decision-making,” he said.
While the industry debates the competition between sales representatives and digital marketing tactics, Physicians Interactive already understands and implements strategies that help them coincide.
Authored by: Robert Kadar, Physicians Interactive