The Covid-19 pandemic has forced many businesses to rethink how they reach their customers – and pharmaceutical companies are no different. For many, this has meant a much greater use of technology and virtual interactions.
But as we’ve discussed in a previous post, simply switching from face-to-face interactions to virtual ones isn’t straightforward, and companies have to ensure they have a clear strategy, effective messages and teams that are well trained and confident to execute the direction set for them.
Having worked with a number of clients to identify their strengths and weaknesses, we’ve pulled together some handy tips and best practice to help make your virtual interactions a success.
Start with your field medical teams:
- They’re often your most effective way to engage with doctors, and particularly key opinion leaders.
- Access is often easier for medical teams as they are non-promotional.
- Key opinion leaders are typically more comfortable with virtual interactions and working at a distance than other healthcare professionals.
- Once relationships are established, medical teams can create opportunities for commercial teams.
Key points for medical teams to remember:
- Use visuals and slides but don’t go into full-on presentation mode – remember you’re likely to be talking to just one person (or at the most a small group).
- Don’t forget to ask open questions to understand the healthcare professional’s rationale – it’s not just a one-way data update.
- Remember to discuss the healthcare professional’s specific practice / clinical experiences and their treatment approach.
Bring in your commercial sales teams, who should:
- Understand the healthcare professional’s office set-up and create a plan for effectively engaging different members of staff.
- Tailor messages for the different office functions.
- Identify a sales ‘champion’ with virtual experience and a track of record of influencing, who can support your other reps.
- Have a consistent and specific structure for messages, from a strong opening through to answering questions.
- Ask open questions and tailor messages to the HCP’s responses to ensure it’s an engaged interaction.
Key points for sales teams to remember:
- Virtual is different than face-to-face, so don’t use an identical strategy.
- Keep it simple and don’t discuss too many products, messages or patient types.
- Fight the urge to ‘tell sell’ – it’s harder to generate a conversation in virtual environments than it is face to face.
- Avoid closed, generic questions that can be answered quickly and shut down the conversation.
- Understand where training and direction is needed if reps are finding it difficult to access healthcare professionals.
Tips for both medical and sales teams:
- Take advantage of the technology and use clear, engaging visuals – they’re more effective than just audio.
- Understand how the platform works and its limitations – make it too complicated and you’ll frustrate the audience.
- Be smart with appointments – do your contacts prefer breakfast briefings, working lunches or late meetings?
- Ensure a collaborative, cross-functional team approach – medical and commercial teams should have awareness of what each are doing.