“Oh! I had a tough time gaining access to a physician today”, “I have the best drug in the market. Yet, the doctors I meet care little about it.” – these are some of the common complaints made by medical reps.
But, why do many Healthcare Professionals (HCPs) seldom show interest in meeting pharmaceutical sales representatives? Why are most medical reps unable to have successful conversations with physicians? The answer – the reps’ inability to address the needs of doctors. This problem can be resolved by training pharmaceutical sales folk effectively on 3 key aspects.
1. Clinical studies and evidence-based medicine (EBM)
A survey conducted by Publicis Touchpoint Solutions revealed 89% of doctors are willing to talk to medical reps who can provide information about the clinical studies of their products and have good knowledge of EBM. Many HCPs wish to have evidence of how a drug can result in better patient outcomes, as their reimbursement is increasingly linked to the efficacy of the treatment they provide.
To meet this need, pharmaceutical companies need to develop the scientific knowledge of their sales reps. Comprehensive training needs to be provided on various aspects such as the disease state, treatment options, research methodologies, statistics, etc. Companies also need to focus on training their medical reps to integrate clinical studies into a conversation to address specific needs of individual HCPs.
2. Effective use of technology
The world of pharmaceutical sales is going digital. The whitepaper, The Rebirth Of The Pharmaceutical Sales Force states that nearly one in four direct sales force interactions targeting doctors have been replaced with digital interactions. The message is loud and clear – make the best use of information technology to connect with HCPs and meet their information needs effectively.
Companies need to train their medical reps in the use of digital tools such as mobile apps, videos, e-mails, etc. to reach physicians effectively and hold meaningful conversations. Consider the following scenario.
A medical rep is having a conversation with a neonatologist about his firm’s latest medicine for a disease, rarely found in new-born babies. The doctor asks the rep to provide statistical information regarding the number of patients suffering from the disease. The rep opens an app, on his iPad, which is connected to a data-mining platform and provides the required information instantly.
3. Proper use of social media
Many doctors use social media to share their experiences and connect with fellow medical practitioners. These media are ideal tools to educate doctors about new medicines and treatment options. Johanna Belbey, in her insightful article 6 Ways Pharma May Use Social Media, believes offering unbiased information on social media can go a long way in building relationships with HCPs.
Pharmaceutical firms need to enable their salespeople answer doctors’ queries on social media and hold chats on Twitter. It is also important to improve medical reps’ social media “listening” skills. Conversations on social media are very useful to understand HCPs’ needs and help direct marketing efforts towards meeting those needs.
Drug manufacturers need to train their sales force effectively to meet the needs of doctors. Firms need to impart good knowledge of clinical studies and EBM. Pharmaceutical companies need to help their reps make the best use of technology and harness the power of social media. How do you train your medical reps? We’d love to know.