The global pause with the emergence of COVID-19 has pushed several frontline facilities to discontinue operations, adversely affecting pharmaceutical companies’ sales and working. As a result, the sales Reps are forced to turn towards a more digitized version of demonstration and sales as days continue to pass without any chances of the virus getting under control.
According to the reports, 42% of physicians require specific Covid-19 related information to better work. This report has also stated that 83% of the physicians cannot get such information from their pharma contacts.
While telephonic conversations and emails have replaced the physical meetings, they haven’t been able to bear many fruits. As a result, the communications have declined to 63% than usual times. Therefore, the top healthcare providers are now turning to virtual meetings and other means of communication, which will also stick with time, even after the pandemic passes.
The Challenge of Digitization
#1. With the advent of COVID-19, all kinds of communications have taken a back-seat with virtual webinars, classes, and meetings. While various virtual health tools have emerged, which helps companies better communicate with physicians and patients, the medical sales from pharma companies are still trying to get their way through to present themselves in the best way.
#2. It will not be wrong to say that digitization has its own set of challenges as in-person meetings possess more advantages. The lack of physical communication can have a weaker impact on sales and weaken the reps’ influence.
#3. According to a survey, it has been highlighted that only 77% of the doctors and physicians are available for virtual meetings. Furthermore, among these, only 60% prefer virtual meetups as compared to personal demonstrations.
#4. Communicating virtually can be difficult for people who don’t find it easy to convey emotions through body language and facial expressions. These features help create a bond that usually leads to a trust-buildup between the rep and the doctor.
Digitalization opportunities for Sales Reps of Pharma Companies
#1. This is a crucial time for pharma companies to bond with the physicians and doctors at these trying times, leading to better relationships in the future. This has provided an opportunity for pharma companies to improve their marketing strategies, resulting in better sales in the post-COVID scenario.
#2. According to research, personal meetups between doctors and sales reps have declined by 50%. To combat the situation, emails and virtual interactions had to be implemented, which resulted in a whopping 263% more engagement and traction during the same period.
#3. The scenario is an excellent opportunity for pharma companies to have a border engagement with physicians and patients through social media. Physicians also prefer these virtual meetups over face-to-face interactions as these meetings are brief and can be conducted as per the availability. Furthermore, the reps can easily reach the target group of consumers to communicate their message effectively.
In such trying times like these, applications such as Preferred Time effectively bridge the gaps between Pharma executives and physicians. Using this app, medical reps can connect with the physicians virtually as per their availability. Furthermore, physicians can either connect, deny, or reschedule a meeting with the calendar representatives. This platform not only allows virtual meetings but also enables the physicians to browse through manufacturer’s websites to stay updated about the latest innovations. A reliable and more comfortable way to communicate with sales reps also allows physicians to terminate unnecessary emails, walk-ins, or phone calls from pharma companies.
Apart from these features, this platform is also beneficial for the reps and pharmaceutical companies as they can increase their consumer base without visiting physicians located sporadically.
The Covid-19 pandemic crisis has created an unprecedented strain on society which requires them to deal with the ailment, find a cure for the ailment, fear the disease, and the physical, emotional, and financial duress of social distancing and lockdowns. In this ambiguous time, healthcare professionals, also known as HCPs, are facing extraordinary challenges–treating Covid-19 patients, providing effective treatment, and finding creative ways to tailor-made the treatments according to patient needs and medical conditions.
With the rapid spread of the virus across the world, several pharma companies have been forced to shut down while many others are aggressively finding solutions to scenarios where the pharma sales reps cannot make in-person contact with hospitals, clinics, and HCPs.
A study showed that almost 42% of physicians wanted specific Covid-19 related information from their pharma and healthcare contacts. The same research also showed that 83% of physicians claimed they weren’t getting the latest updates from their pharma contacts. Overall, pharma sales rep visits, including contact over emails and telephone, had declined to 63% than usual.
This decline in numbers has been attributed to the sudden shift of pharmaceutical companies from in-person sales models to digital automation.
The Challenge of Creating Innovative Solutions
Given the changing situations in the pharma and healthcare industry because of Covid-19 and its impact on humans and the healthcare system, medical reps have to find new, innovative ways to engage with their customers. According to a recent study, it was observed that out of 77% of doctors and physicians who preferred in-person contact with pharma reps before Covid-19, over 60% now preferred virtual meetups. This means that the standard procedures of in-person sales models have to be drastically modified to create avenues for digital connections between the pharma reps and their clientele.
The Opportunities for Pharma Reps
Research shows that the percentage of in-person meetups between doctors and medical sales reps in the last few months after the spread of Covid-19 dropped by 50% whereas the email and virtual interactions between the two increased by a whopping 263% during the same time.
Of course, there is an immediate need for pharma companies to change the way they interact with HCPs and consumers during these uncertain circumstances. However, these changes and shifts will also position the pharma companies for a successful future as the current circumstances become the new acceptable way of life.
Pharmaceutical companies need to reconsider their sales and marketing strategies and find innovative ways to promote their products. They also need to create ways to reduce the barrier between them and their HCP clients while leveraging technological solutions to facilitate virtual engagements.
The Future of Medical Sales Reps Post Covid-19
Medical Sales Reps, and pharma companies, will have to understand and adapt to the barriers they are faced with but at the same time, they have to factor in the new drivers and re-evaluate their communication methods. There are three primary challenges that the pharma reps will have to address:
Creating self-service channels – With more and more doctors and HCPs shifting to virtual meetups over in-person sales, medical representatives have to put more focus now than ever on initiating proactive communication via messages, apps, and emails.
Ongoing support for chronic patients – The urgency of the Covid-19 situation has made it difficult for non-COVID patients to connect with their doctors and physicians. Pharma reps need to acknowledge the problem and fill the gap by continuing to provide information and care on these patients to their respective HCPs.
Lack of physical accessibility – With norms such as social distancing and limited physical contact, pharma reps will now have to depend on the functionality and effectiveness of digital methods to schedule appointments and pitch their products to prospective and existing HCP clientele.
While the sudden, unexpected change in the medical and pharma industry has created several significant challenges, brands such as Preferred Time have shown their dedication and competency by offering alternative solutions to promote interactions between pharma sales reps and HCPs. Creating a virtual platform that allows medical reps and HCPs to create appointments according to availability, check rep portfolios before investing time in their products, connecting the both according to respective needs, and so much more has been made possible because of their virtual meet up app. It is initiatives like these that show no matter what the challenge is and how critical Covid-19 may be, they can always be fathomed.