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Pharmas look at ways to empower Virtual sales – technology driving this massive shift in a traditional sales role

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Marketing & Strategy: The sudden and ongoing impact of COVID-19 on professional face-to-face interaction, along with the already evolving transition to more virtual and doctor-led engagements, has worked to accelerate the decline in face-to-face pharmaceutical sales representative visits, replaced by the growing viability of new digital channels.

A survey of almost 400 GPs by the Australian Doctor Group (ADG) on their contact with pharmaceutical field staff early in the pandemic, found a significant drop in face-to-face engagement, with the number of doctors who reported in-person field staff visits falling from 81% to 5% early in the pandemic.

While this decline could easily be explained by government and industry led risk management initiatives, perhaps of greater significance is the post-COVID reluctance of GPs opting to re-establish their previous levels of engagement with sales representatives. Only 50% of GPs stated a preference for this type of pharmaceutical company-initiated approach in the future. Many GPs have reacted positively to the digital interactions they have had and don’t want to give up on those benefits.

“The future model will be very much on-demand,” said Tsumi Smith, Head of Multichannel Marketing at AbbVie.

“But it appears there is still a long way to go. As pharma companies, we often say we are customer-centric and customer-first, but we often don’t listen enough and respond to what doctors truly want and need. There’s still a space for us to inform doctors about new products because they do want to hear about it. But it needs to be on their terms.”

Peter Stephenson, Managing Director of West 53rd St Digital Services and former Asia Pacific Digital Transformation Lead at MSD, believes the pharmaceutical company of the future will have a really strong analytics and data capability. They will understand customer behaviour on different channels, their content preferences, where they are in the prescribing continuum, and they will be able to match their content and support to whatever point the doctor is in their career.

“The challenge is being able to access data from the different ecosystems of engagement to get a single customer view and to then understand how to adapt and customise the channels to meet each customer’s needs,” he stated.

It is not all doom and gloom for pharmaceutical industry. This white paper shows that through the adoption of new technologies and by accepting greater doctor input into when and how engagements take place, pharmaceutical company support and education will remain as relevant and important as ever to healthcare professionals (HCPs).

Download the new white paper here.

Download 2020 white paper here.


This article is written by Health Industry Hub and originally published here