It’s a confusing landscape where we market today; essentially a brave, new world where new technologies and Big Data come to play. The impact of pending healthcare changes on how we market is anyone’s best guess. One thing for sure, it is becoming increasingly difficult to even see the physician as more and more join group or institutional practices with severe limitations on sales rep visits. On the other hand, physicians are early and leading adopters and users of technology tools such as smartphones and iPads, and are also participating in social media sites with regularity. What then is the best way to get our message through to our physician audience?
Surprisingly enough, studies of hematologists and oncologists by J.D. Power and Associates released earlier this year indicate that physicians still view the sales representative as the leading influencer from biopharmaceutical companies. According to Rick Milliard, senior director of the healthcare practice at J.D. Power and Associates: “Even though there is a lot of questioning about the traditional sales detail approach, the sales rep continues to be a very influential broker of information and resources. Physicians value having a personalized service relationship that goes beyond the bonds that can be created working through other marketing channels.”1
And at the same time, yet another report, the Kantar Media Sources and Interactions Study, March 2013—Medical/Surgical Edition, said that physician participation in eDetailing has doubled since 2009. They found that two in four physicians indicate participation in eDetailing versus the one in four reported in 2009, and 78% of these state that they would participate again.2
What Does This Tell Us?
Since physicians seem to still trust and enjoy the personal relationship they have with their sales representative, while embracing the technology tools used for non-personal promotion, we need to empower our sales representatives to leverage the technology to deliver a better customer experience.
What Does This Mean Exactly?
We need to build technology platforms in which representatives can be interactive with their target physicians, both in a personal detail and outside that sales call. The platforms need to draw from and integrate the robust databases that exist within our industry silos, and use that data to understand and meet the needs of physician customers. Insights compiled from all touch points need to span across the channels. If a physician has viewed a particular promotional session or participated in a forum, the data from this can be very valuable to share with the sales rep for a richer and more customized experience.
The key is to develop reps savvy enough to seize this opportunity to further engage with their customer, arm them with the appropriate compliant material or tools, and empower them to reach out across the channels to reinforce and solidify their personal relationship by delivering content when and where the physician wants it. In that regard we will be bravely tapping the best of both worlds.
1. J.D. Power and Associates Reports: Evidence that Relationship Marketing Still Matters in Oncology Pharmaceutical Sales, 4/25/2014.
2. Mia Burns, PharmaLive, 8/15/13, E-detailing: Nearly Half of Doctors have Attended at Least One Presentation.