The Pharma Sales Rep of Tomorrow
Prior to the spread of the novel Coronavirus, pharmaceutical companies were already drastically decreasing the number of pharma salesperson jobs within their organizations. Digital promoting channels have drastically shifted the reliance on face-to-face relationships for both physicians and pharmaceutical companies when it comes to providing the resources patients need, at the cost of as many as half of past salesperson jobs. Many of those digital influences simply make information more readily available or introduce corner-cutting methods of distributing and marketing products. But there are also new platforms like Preferred Time, for example, where reps and physicians can take advantage of digital connectivity and access to information while also maintaining personal relationships and individual client care. Nonetheless, the newly-evolving needs of limiting both contact and travel in all industries can inevitably push the medical sales industry even deeper into digital trends.
A few major factors are driving this decline:
1: Physicians are currently required to give more of their time to a higher volume of patients every day and therefore, they have less time for pharmaceutical sales reps.
2: There has been a shift to higher-developing markets like China, for example, and away from low-development regions, for example, the USA.
3: Much of the information an agent can offer is readily available online and at convenience of the physician’s schedule. Valuable, reliable resources are more accessible than ever through even the most common tools like cell phones and tablets.
4. As mentioned, the Coronavirus pandemic has put a halt to many traditional tasks of a sales representative. In the US, things like dinner meetings, conferences, and corporate travel are off the table for many, and there’s no predicting how, when, or if those methods ever make their way back into growing salesperson-physician relationships.
So, what will the pharmaceutical salesperson of tomorrow look like? We imagine that the pharmaceutical salesman isn’t a relic of times gone by. He or she won’t be replaced by online platforms and call centers, however, their capabilities will change significantly.
From a medical point of view, agents with some medical training will become more prominent, such as those with degrees in nursing. And this focus on medical specialization will become even more significant as treatments become increasingly complex, such as RNAi treatments, remedial antibodies, and so on. In any case, as the marketing aspects of the industry go digital (and mobile), having agents with web-based expertise and a depth of web marketing knowledge will also be valuable to pharma companies.
On the sales side, consider how to position your products and relevant information online by understanding how physicians search for, use online reference books, diary vaults, and the latest press to access medical information. This is more than just digital marketing, it is a relocation of sale tools and methods.
With this in mind, there are a few effects on the salesperson:
1: Sales filters and opportunities are redistributed in ways that don’t rely solely on the rep. To the companies who employ a successful mix of online marketing and medical experience in their reps, simply “leasing” a salesman won’t be sufficient.
2: Current and future reps will require training beyond their company’s minimum or even nursing degrees. In particular, extra training will be required in successful SEO practices and web marketing.
3: Online marketing should be accessible on different devices (laptop, desktop, and mobile), optimized through various channels (search engine optimized, online reference books, and so on).
This is a time for the pharmaceutical business to reshape how it relays information to its physicians, which we can expect will lead to more informed medical professionals and more importantly, better patient care.