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Aligning digital activity with sales force is key to engagement

In Japan the internet now accounts for 24 per cent of all interactions between the pharma industry and doctors
Online physician communities

Statistics show that doctors across the world are increasingly turning to digital channels for news, views and product information. For example, in Japan the internet now accounts for 24 per cent of all interactions between the pharma industry and doctors; while in the UK around 48,000 doctors log on to Doctors.net.uk alone every day.

So what does this mean for the pharma industry and the future of sales reps? It is far too simplistic to suggest that the internet will replace face-to-face contact with the sales force, as this will always be of value, particularly in the secondary care sector.  

I believe that the answer lies in aligning the two channels of communication so that insights gathered online are used to inform, influence and complement sales force activities. This approach, which may involve using sales reps differently, or using fewer of them, will help pharma to increase the reach, breadth and frequency of engagement with target customers.

For example, pharma can use the extensive research capability afforded by independent online networks to identify and research the needs of “no see low see doctors”, and target them accordingly. Insights gathered can inform the message delivery of sales reps and help them to refine their approach and build credibility for their company or product – thus improving the quality of face to face interactions. Alternatively an e-detail or other self-directed promotional campaign can be used as a substitute for face-to-face pharma sales rep activity for lower frequency prescribers alongside services calls and telereach.

This kind of multi-channel approach not only enables pharma to feed valuable insights into the sales force, it also allows it engage with doctors on their terms and through the many different channels they use. This helps to build credibility for pharma and can be used as a platform for establishing a thought leadership position in specific disease and therapy areas.

If independent online networks feature in the multi-channel mix, then detailed measurement and evaluation can be conducted at any stage in the engagement process to measure changes such as prescribing intention, perceptions and clinical behaviour.This enables pharma to continually optimise engagement with customers to ensure it meets doctors' evolving needs.

For more information on Doctors.net.uk, please call Tim Ringrose on +44 (0)1235 828400, or email Tim.Ringrose@mess.doctors.org.uk. You can also follow Doctors.net.uk on Twitter: doctors_net_uk

25th October 2013

From: Marketing

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