How digital can a pharmaceutical sales force actually become?

Dirk Ziems

Digitization of the sales force is a truly controversial issue at present. There really are clear arguments in favour of digitization, lower costs being only the most obvious one. In the background, new and efficient possibilities of customer retention exist. In many cases, a digital form of communication is superior to the classic visit of a sales rep in making the information understandable and memorable.

For example, a survey has shown that, after receiving important instructions for a sales talk, only ten percent of the members of a sales force team were able to recapitulate all relevant details. By contrast, digital selling, which can take the form of webinars, (video) telephone conferences or tutorial videos, guarantees the reliable transfer of key marketing messages. Furthermore, there is a definite affinity for technology at least in the younger generation of doctors and sales reps.

The downside of digital consultancy

Online offers are found too impersonal and do not seem to show adequate appreciation. As the knowledge is imparted indirectly and not face-to-face, the doctors miss the “personal touch”, the consideration of their individual needs. Especially the asymmetry in contact with digital platforms is partly experienced as a downright insult because, in their day-to-day work, doctors have continuous personal contact with their patients who treat them with respect as authorities in their field.

This is usually how the doctors also experience contact with the pharmaceutical reps. They know each other, may have done so for years, and the long-standing relationship has often led to mutual trust. The pharmaceutical rep can hence tailor his support and services precisely to the actual requirements of each particular customer.

Digital opportunity for pharmaceutical companies

It seems obvious that the only way out of this dilemma is to connect the online and offline worlds. This combination would even provide all those involved with a considerable added value: the sales rep can offer the possibility of digital information transfer to his customer as an additional, efficient variant while continuing to be available as central partner. By successfully managing the digital medium, the human factor is still kept with its empathy and a face. The relationship between sales rep and customer remains at a high level of trust even when the communication is largely shifted to other channels.

And what’s more: the more efficient information transfer and modern provision of these data puts the doctor in a position to look after his patients even better than before.

Therefore, well prepared digitization will definitely be a form of enrichment in the healthcare sector. The linking of old and new communication stabilizes the trust between all those involved and further ensures far greater efficiency – in the interest of the patient, the doctor and not least the pharmaceutical company, which is thus able to specifically position its products and services.

For further information please contact Rochus Winkler (rochus.winkler@test.local) +49 (0)221 923 590 10.

Dirk Ziems
Dirk Ziems ist Experte für tiefenpsychologisches Marketing und berät auf Basis von Markt-, Medien- und Kulturforschung weltweit Unternehmen und Konzerne in zahlreichen Branchen und Ländern. Als Mitbegründer der Global Research Boutique Concept M und der Marketingberatung Flying Elephant begleitet er Themen wie die Adaption von Erfolgsprodukten in neuen kulturellen Kontexten, das tiefe Verständnis neuer Konsumgenerationen in China und USA, die Transformation der Werbekommunikation in der neuen digitalen Medienwelt oder die Neuorientierung der Brands in Post-Corona-Zeiten. Dirk Ziems ist auch als Gastdozent an verschiedenen Universitäten tätig.

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