As mentioned in the previous blog post, most - if not all pharma companies are considering remote sales models. The accelerated adoption of remote communication and ways of working requires an upskilling of the commercial team. As we expect the role of the Pharma representative in customer relationship management to evolve, so must the marketing and medical teams learn how to better create and share content that supports those engagements.
We know that there are a lot of benefits of remote engagements for both Pharma and our HCP customers:
- At least 90% of HCPs who try remote engagement are likely to repeat the experience;
- The promotional cost per call is dramatically reduced;
- Remote calls can be very convenient for both parties, reducing time wasted on the road and in waiting rooms;
- Remote engagement can also open access to new customers by providing valuable content in customer-preferred channels.
Remote, virtual and live – what does it look like?
Remote Representative Profile
Pharma has a good base to build upon already with three types of Pharma representatives that exist today:
- Traditional face to face representatives who meet with HCPs in person;
- Remote [only] representatives, more like a call centre agent, where the representatives make telephone calls to HCPs, send emails, and conduct virtual promotional or medical customer calls; and
- Hybrid representatives – representatives who engage in face to face and virtual interactions with HCPs, using Rep Triggered Email, SMS, Remote Detail, and both physical and virtual events.
The representative profile for remote engagement is similar to that of a face to face rep. However, the skills needed to add value and develop relationships remotely may require even more resilience, increased flexibility, and stronger communications skills.
Building Relationships Virtually
- Rapport Building is the basis for a building a relationship. Whether in person or via a remote engagement, developing a connection between 2 people or 2 organisations must be mutually beneficial. Deep listening and meaningful conversations are important factors in building good rapport. Relevant content, and easy access to it in a timely manner, can all make rapport building easier. This has implications for marketing and medical to provide such content across multiple channels to support the conversations between representatives and HCPs.
- Consistent Messages & Service Levels It is even more important for messaging to be clear and be consistent across the channels. An organization-wide approach will be a core element of the remote engagement model. Develop segmentation on customers’ communication styles and preferences and ensure there is flexibility for representatives and HCPs to be able to access the most relevant content across the customer’s preferred channels at the appropriate time.
- Keep Commitments Silence and time lags are big destroyers of trust – even more when the contact is remote only.
- Continuously Get Feedback directly from customers and through data collection. Use it to make decisions and personalise each interaction.
- Develop Deep Customer Knowledge by being genuinely interested in your customer and what they share with you.
- Pre-Call Planning is more important than ever as brings us the ability to be agile and savvy across channels. Know your customers preferred channels and use them. Ensure that representatives know who attends online meetings, webinars, contributes on social media etc.
- Develop Engaging Visual Content. Don’t be boring. Don’t make assumptions that everyone wants a barrage of highly scientific, small font text-filled slides because they are HCPs. People (and that includes HCPs!) like to be engaged and entertained.
Click here to download our Best Practices for Remote Engagement:
Understandably, there is a fear of losing the human element of a relationship if the number of virtual interactions keeps increasing. But just remember, if this were true, how are people building relationships in the world of online dating and social media connections? We will need to adapt to this new reality and acquire new skill sets, and we are very capable of both. Commercial Excellence leaders will need to partner even more with the Brand Teams [including Sales], IT and Human Resources, to find the most effective combination of skills and technologies, with an optimised resource allocation that to best support the new engagement model and build good customer relationships.
If you are interested in our immersive learning solutions on remote engagement, contact Actando.
The Actando Consulting Team