Changing Role of Pharma Sales Reps

There are 81,000 pharmaceutical sales representative in the United States educating healthcare professionals (HCPs) about their drugs. They leverage their interpersonal skills and drug knowledge to influence HCPs in prescribing their drugs. Sales reps manage drug sales in their territories by detailing HCPs, providing free drug samples to HCPs, distributing drug efficacy literature, arranging medical conferences, disease support campaigns, and supporting patient services team. They also pass the HCP feedback and competitive analysis to home office for refining market strategy. 

Sales reps have list of their target HCPs or HCOs (Health Care Organization) at the start of the year. These targets are segmented into high to low categories and there is a call plan (number of calls per target). Sales reps plan visits to HCPs across their territories based on the target list and call plan.

HCPs used to give time to the sales reps to understand the drug’s efficacy, side effects, comparison with competitor drugs, dosage, length of therapy, and more. Many a times reps have lunch meeting with the HCPs and office staff for detailed discussions about the drug and treatment.

In the last decade, US healthcare landscape has changed rapidly and job of pharmaceutical sales reps have become challenging due to restricted physician access and increased competition. And the relationship between sales reps and HCPs has changed significantly. This is evident from the fact that more than 53% of physicians in the U.S. place moderate-to-severe restrictions on visits from sales reps.

However, advent of video calls, messaging apps, online seminars, webinars, emails and other digital promotions have proved to be a valuable tools in the hands of sales reps in this new age. As demands on HCPs’ time has increased, 68% of HCPs indicates webinars or webcasts as their most preferred channel to engage with sales reps. 70% of HCPs said that pharma representatives do not understand their requirements completely. They feel representatives should understand the needs of HCPs and sharing only relevant content with them to make the interactions more insightful. The current approach of one-size-fits-all approach is not working, and pharma companies need to focus on individualized communication with HCPs.

Pharma companies must create an omnipresent HCP experience that includes various HCP interaction channels, many of which are virtual and accessible through smart devices with sales rep being the key player. Further addition to omnichannel is personalized HCP engagement which relies on digital customized promotion first and when HCPs have shown any interest or query, then reps can reach out to the HCP with only the requested information. This way from a push marketing of reps reaching out to HCPs, it is required to move to pull marketing where HCPs read the personalized communication and ask queries about the content. And then reach out to the HCP with the relevant information.

Multichannel engagement make HCPs looped into multiple channels that are often unorchestrated and scattered which they are unable to deliver a single consistent experience to the HCP. In Omnichannel engagement, HCPs are looped into multiple channels that are orchestrated cohesively by sales, marketing and medical teams. However, having an omnichannel strategy isn’t enough in today’s day and age, given the multitude of channels and the extent of information shared.

This is where a personalized HCP engagement can be a game changer. Pharma companies can engage with thousands of HCPs with customized messaging for each HCPs by understanding HCP personas, information needs, location and more based on data analytics and insights.

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There are 81,000 pharmaceutical sales representative in the United States educating healthcare professionals (HCPs) about their drugs. They