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Embracing multi-channel in the digital age

Adopting innovative ways

Paul BlackAccess to HCPs is in decline, but with mounting pressure to maintain sales delivery, how can pharma use digital channels to up its game?

The NHS, and the healthcare industry as a whole, has changed rapidly in recent years. Decreasing budgets and tighter time restraints mean that accessing NHS customers in the traditional way is a growing challenge.

However, the digital age has presented us with an opportunity. It has reshaped the way we live and work in general, improving our productivity and aiding communication. From social media through to managing money, digital interaction is well and truly integrated into our daily lives. And now, digital channels have become a viable alternative to accessing HCPs.

The pharmaceutical industry has been a little slow in adapting to the digital revolution. We are seeing companies experimenting with different modes of communication, from e-detailing to email, but what they have a tendency to forget is that, ultimately, effective communication is about individual preferences, over and above a company’s digital strategy.

Consider HCPs as individuals

As consumers we all have our own preferences in how we are approached by brands, so it should come as no surprise that the HCPs we’re targeting have individual preferences too. Not all HCPs will respond well to the telephone, some simply prefer emails, and this medium shouldn’t be underestimated.  They’re developing different ways of working, and they’re also getting younger and more adept at mastering technology.

OUTiCO has seen some superb results with our multichannel approach over the last few years. The response of HCPs to new technology has been extremely positive, and we routinely receive feedback that a flexible approach which considers their time and preference is refreshing.

Digital communication still has a long way to go, but every time we successfully and professionally engage with an HCP, we increase the understanding of the benefits this can offer busy clinicians who need to stay up to date with pharmaceutical developments.

What is multichannel account mangement?

Multichannel account management is an alternative to the traditional, key account management sales model. It combines the skills of qualified sales professionals with new tools and techniques that optimise their engagement with customers, and it lets them develop channels that are tailored to the individual preference of their customers.

We’ve seen superb results using a combination of channels.

Video conferencing/screen sharing is a simple interface for fast, online meetings. It’s very effective and our customers have commented on how easy it is to use, and how valuable they’ve found the meetings. We can engage with HCPs without wasting time on the road or waiting for a clinician to become available.

Email is fast and flexible. Once we have permission to use email, many HCPs prefer this method of communication because it doesn’t involve a lengthy conversation, and they can review the content at their own pace.

Telephone calls work for those HCPs who want to have a conversation with a trusted adviser. A phone call can save so much time, and it’s a really cost-efficient way to build relationships.

Face-to-face meetings can still be facilitated by multichannel account managers if this is the HCP’s preference. It allows the reps to build relationships and have a personal interaction. However, unlike the traditional sales model, we don’t make cold calls. All our meetings are ‘warmed-up’ first, so that both parties support the objectives and value of the meetings.

What makes a future-proof rep?

Strong business acumen and excellent negotiation skills will, of course, remain important, but to keep pace with the HCPs of today, sales reps need to engage successfully across all available channels and treat people as individuals.

Once a preferred channel has been established, sales professionals should adapt their style to suit their customer, build a relationship, share expertise and hold high-level conversations, demonstrating their vast knowledge of the industry.

What lies ahead?

We all have a part to play in the digital revolution of healthcare and the NHS. It’s no longer an option to stand still in an environment where everything else is changing.

The next generation of pharma sales reps will be multichannel communicators who put their customer’s preference at the heart of every sales interaction.

For commercial success, the pharma industry needs to adopt new and innovative ways to access their customer base, which will deliver a broader channel mix. It’s this sustainable method that will ensure a bright future for any company that embraces change.

Paul Black is COO at OUTiCO

In association with

OutiCo

19th October 2017

From: Marketing

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