GHP October 2015

ghp October 2015 | 13 innovation & technology 3 Ways That Technology Can Future-Proof The Pharma Sales Force Today It’s safe to say that the only certainty regarding the pharma sales model is uncertainty. One thing is for sure, there will be change and that continued change will be increasingly fueled by technology. In fact, advancing technology promises to transform the role of the pharmaceutical sales representatives into a critical linchpin within the overall commercial strategy of a brand – elevating customer engagement via three differentiating factors of high transparency, high context and high touch. High Transparency – deployments of pharmaceutical sales representatives will require higher transparency around RIO. WHAT. Pharmaceutical executives commercializing brands are increasingly called on to move from de- ploying pharmaceutical sales representatives with low transparency regarding return on investment (ROI) to deploying pharmaceutical sales representatives with high transparency around ROI. WHY. Simply put, the “pharmaceutical sales repre- sentative” channel is the most expensive channel lev- eraged to commercialize brands. With the continued margin pressure across the pharmaceutical industry, the “financial squeeze” will create the conditions where the more expensive channels will be asked to provider higher levels of ROI transparency. HOW TECH HELPS. The use of electronic aids and modern engagement tools such as mobile customer re- lationship management (CRM) systems create an easy to report-on and export-for-analysis “digital exhaust” of all activities a pharmaceutical sales representative conducts. In addition, the quality and precision of data regarding the behaviors of healthcare professionals (HCP) such as scrip writing and sampling continues to improve as well. As a result, sales managers will increasingly be able to include more granular details on the activities of pharmaceutical sales representa- tives and more granular data regarding HCP behav- ioral insights. These critical inputs were previously unavailable, yet are the key to ROI calculations driving transparency and decision making regarding resource management of life sciences’ “most expensive chan- nel”, the pharmaceutical sales representative. Technology provides the digital exhaust to increase the transparency, precisions, and confidence when investing in the most expensive channel, the pharma- ceutical sales representative. High Context – pharmaceutical sales representatives will conduct less low-impact, low-context activities and more high- value, high-context activities to drive HCP engagement. WHAT. The impact of a single pharmaceutical sales representative engagement will transition from merely creating soft brand awareness for customers seeking answers, to creating hard evidence for HCPs seeking outcomes. The future viability of the current pharmaceutical sales force model ranges from a doomsday scenario of no more pharma- ceutical sales representatives at all to predictions of a return to the glory days where the pharmaceutical sales representative was at the center of the brand-commercialization universe.