Digital Sales Aids in the Pharma Industry | Paper detail aids for Field Representatives were converted to electronic copies (as PowerPoint or PDF slide shows or just long PDF documents) when tablet PCs first emerged. This movement came with the big message that by going digital, you could save on printing budgets and wastage. While the savings may, or may not, have been realized, it was the start of a transitional period from ‘paper on glass’ to the now, interactive and more complex Digital Sales Aids (or DSA).
What is a Digital Sales Aid?
A DSA is purposed to build digital content, developed to support the dialogue between a Representative and a HCP. The content is often about, but not limited to, a product, the patient types, relevant treatment regimes and/or other related topics, that all align to your company and/or brand strategy.
It can include static and interactive content, as well as small surveys. DSAs can be simple to very complex depending upon the strategy and content.
A DSA can provide tools that stimulate deeper engagement in key topics. It can include visuals like animations and short videos, which can be used to explain what cannot be explained as well with words (after all, 65% of the population are visual learners, so stimulating visual content is appealing to the most people.)
If the DSA is made available via a CRM, then this can enable tracking in real time on a number of different variables that could lead to deeper insights into your customers behaviors and content relevancy. It can also enable research on the fly, by recording responses during the interaction.
How DSA Adds Value to Your Sales Process
The implementation of a DSA, as part of your channel and content strategy, should focus on how to leverage technology to improve the quality and depth of the engagement between the Representative and the HCP. Let’s not forget, it is a ‘sales aid’ not an automated presentation with a passive presenter. That means recognizing upfront, that it will be used in conjunction with a dialogue to achieve a strategy and various progressive call objectives, so should be designed with this in mind.
Since it is not a standalone piece, it is important to identify early in the planning phase, where the DSA will fit into the various interactions between the Representative and the HCP: when will it come into play, what value it will add, and how? Start with the end in mind.
What is Required to Implement DSA in the Pharma Industry?
Content remains king across all channels, including this one. Content in this channel is used by the Field Representatives, therefore will require approval to be complaint in most markets.
Planning 3 key conversations that the Representatives intend to have with the HCPs, driven by the brand strategy and customer needs, is a great place to start when planning the type of content and the design of the layout. Not only will this drive the development of focused relevant content that truly supports the dialogue, but it will aid in effective and efficient training, and a faster uptake by the field force. It will in a sense, be a natural extension of the dialogue.
It is safe to say that customer expectations of digital content production, is that the content will change frequently, and it can always be up to date, unlike printed materials. As hard as that is to implement, that is the standard of today! So that means robust internal collaborative processes and capabilities are essential. External partners should be selected early, and most importantly, selected very carefully; to ensure production efficiency and good DSA design results. It is worth noting that many leading CRMs require production agencies to be certified to ensure DSA content is developed to be compatible.
Along with a sufficient budget allocation, an appropriate length of time is required for change management if it is the first DSA, training, process development, production and end user training. Your first version of a DSA will take approximately 4-6 months to plan, produce, and launch, and realistically it will be much more expensive then following DSA updates.
Lastly, the DSA is part of the brand digital eco system and therefore will be consistent with the other channels.
It is very easy to access standard metrics from most CRMs, however these never really give the full picture. Tailor KPIs, specific to a brand strategy and goals, then identify the tracking and metrics required to assist you in understanding the customers, the content, the engagement and the strategy execution.
A DSA provides a wonderful opportunity to enhance the capabilities of the field force and enrich the interaction with the HCP. The DSA is not a standalone piece; rather it is a digital asset within the broader brand communications multichannel ecosystem, playing a valuable role in the brand execution strategy.
Jennifer Grech is an experienced Customer Excellence professional, with over 10 years experience working on the transformation of pharma marketing and sales, and a member of the Actando consulting team.
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