Pharma Sales in the Digital Era
By: Liz Murray, MBA | November 03, 2015
‘Going digital’ is a global business trend across industries and the pharma sector has been relatively slow to embrace the technology-fuelled changes of the last decade. However, companies are now beginning to catch up.
Quintiles’ 2015 Digital & Multichannel Marketing customer survey showed there is still reluctance among pharma executives to risk experimenting with newer digital channels unless traditional channels have failed. At the same time, patients and healthcare professionals increasingly use digital devices and sources for health related information; this disconnect stands in the way of optimal pharma company communications with stakeholders.
Based on increasing healthcare regulation, declining access to healthcare providers and the proliferation of technology, some commentators predicted that traditional field roles would be eroded or replaced by technological solutions. Recent evidence suggests that the reality is very different.
Today, there are three key channel categories:
Today, a successful marketing strategy must embrace customers’ evolving preferences and strive for a channel mix that provides the desired information at a time and place that suits the target audience and situation. Quintiles’ term, ‘the power of AND,’ refers to this tailored combination of live, personal digital and non-personal digital interactions.Recent market research commissioned by Quintiles in Europe evaluated the newer live channel with 1:1 virtual meetings (qualified remote eRepresentatives + online meeting platform + telephone), sometimes called remote or virtual e-detailing. Quintiles has 5+ years’ experience with this approach. The research was conducted with 60 physicians (primary and specialist) covering four Quintiles client projects. The findings clearly illustrate ‘the power of AND:’
Overall, the results suggest a very positive reaction to the live personalised virtual meeting approach, alongside face-to-face contact.
The challenge of today’s pharma commercial model is to successfully meet customer needs by using, understanding and connecting a range of channels. Ultimately, all communications are likely to be highly personalised and digitally integrated. In the meantime, given that HCPs and patients are using an increasingly wide range of information sources, pharma companies should take advantage of innovative ways to reach them.
Predictions about the demise of the field role -- and its personalised one-on-one interaction with HCPs – have not materialised. Instead, the future belongs to an integrated multichannel approach, based on a carefully tailored combination of live, personal digital and non-personal digital interactions.