Challenges of Post COVID Pharmaceutical Sales Engagement
Post-COVID HCP sales rep engagement is moving to a hybrid model. The new normal of sales rep interaction will include both in-person access and new virtual ways to communicate with physicians.
According to Forbes, almost 90% of HCPs prefer having virtual or a mix of virtual and in-person pharmaceutical sales pitch meetings even after the pandemic ends. Meanwhile, 67% believe pharmaceutical companies should improve communication with HCPs and assist physicians in making prescribing decisions.
Virtual settings require new ways to communicate with customers. This reality also impacts conversations between pharmaceutical sales representatives and healthcare providers (HCPs).
How can you improve the quality of these conversations and, most importantly, the results they have in your business? Artificial intelligence and behavioral science are completely changing how companies sell. But more on that later.
The first thing to recognize is the specific engagement challenges in the industry. Here’s a recap of a few of them, as recently reported by Pharma Exec:
In-person meetings reduced
The number of in-person meetings your sales reps can schedule has undoubtedly decreased. Back in 2020, only 34% of physicians on the frontlines of COVID-19 said they would attend a pharmaceutical sales pitch meeting in person.
With COVID variants still popping up, this trend will likely extend over time. However, according to a recent HCP survey by Sermo, the good news is that the central role of sales reps is undiminished. Aside from medical and scientific sources, sales reps are still physicians’ most preferred information source from pharma companies.
The way doctors work has changed
There are also fewer HCP access points. Many doctors are now working for hospital groups, thereby limiting access to them. On the other hand, the pharma industry offers highly regulated and complex solutions that need detailed explanations. In fact, 26% of healthcare prospects don't always realize how the reps' pharmaceutical sales pitch can help their patients.
These barriers only made existing access issues worse, but virtual meetings opened up a tremendous opportunity. In the following section, you will learn how to help your reps improve their pharmaceutical sales pitch sessions through simple, applicable techniques.
How to Improve Pharmaceutical Sales Virtual Detailing
According to recent research from McKinsey, the shift to virtual modes and the challenges that go along with it are here to stay through 2021 and beyond:
- Nine out of ten companies expect their new business models developed after the pandemic to last at least one year.
- Virtual engagement is an absolute favorite of buyers and sellers alike, as over 75% prefer it over face-to-face conversations.
- In B2B sales, only 20% of buyers want in-person transactions to return to the pre-pandemic normal. This means field sales (for example, in the pharmaceutical or medical device fields) will forever change.
To adapt to this new way of performing virtual pharmaceutical sales pitch sessions, apply the following tips to enhance your team's performance. But be sure to read on to learn how the latest advancements in behavioral sciences, data, and AI are helping companies take their detailing, both in person and virtual, to a new level:
1) Put The Audience First
Human-to-human conversations and connections are at the heart of healthcare and pharma selling. Every HCP prospect and selling scenario is unique. There will be a wide range of pain points, requirements, and unsatisfied needs your team can address to illustrate the value of your medicine for their patients.
Before 2020, your reps had the opportunity to learn more about prospects' concerns over coffee or lunch when they sold in person. However, with virtual pharma sales, it is essential to know your prospects before the call, especially since many are coming to your company after doing much of their own online research and evaluations.
Your reps should research their prospects before even sending a virtual meeting invitation to understand how external factors might affect their practice. Once the call begins, they should continue to put the audience and patient first by paying close attention and adjusting their communication accordingly.
Skills to practice are discussion, paying attention to feedback, and being ready to pivot if they seem to lose focus.
2) Engage Prospects With Nonverbal Communication
You may have heard that 70% of communication impact is nonverbal signals, meaning a body's behavior speaks louder than words. Your reps should indicate that they are present, focused, and eager to be on screen with the prospect by using positive body language. Keeping the camera on is essential.
It is important they look at the camera and not at the doctor’s image to imitate in-person eye contact. Pro-tip, remind yourself to look at the webcam by putting a smiley face post-it next to the camera. Really. It works. By nodding and showing active facial expressions, salespeople demonstrate their engagement, understanding, and commitment with the HCP.
To increase the likelihood of achieving pharmaceutical sales goals, make sure your reps’ posture, facial expressions, and vocal patterns feel dynamic.
3) Build Authentic Rapport Over Video
There is no faster way to create distance between a sales rep and a healthcare professional during a pharmaceutical sales call than by adopting a non-authentic character. They can overcome this by demonstrating confidence and trust and communicating as if they were interacting with a friend or colleague.
Engaging with the HCP in a meaningful way is incredibly helpful. Ask prospects questions about themselves, and always follow up on further calls.
Using storytelling language, your reps can build a picture of the HCP’s ideal world where your product addresses their most pressing problems. This way, they can make the conversation about your prospect and their patients and not about what they are selling.
4) Set Their Tech Up For Success
Make sure your reps can predict and solve tech issues beforehand. As a result, they can avoid constantly interrupting their conversations to adjust the camera or microphone. The right technology and a few pieces of extra equipment can also improve your pharmaceutical team's video sales pitch (webcam, USB mic, ring light, etc.).
New Technologies to Support Virtual Pharmaceutical Sales Pitches
Trying to “listen along” to reps’ calls when traveling across the city and even overseas may be one of your biggest challenges. It may not be possible for you to gain insights into who's communicating well with HCPs during pharmaceutical sales calls without having to listen to hours of recordings or manually evaluate every sales call they make.
Even more importantly, how can you connect performance insights and team development, revenue, quota attainment, and customer satisfaction?
The good news is that some of the same advancements in technology that have helped support digital transformation also benefit pharma sales leaders. The best platforms can help you reach these goals with artificial intelligence and data-driven science without having to spend hours.
By leveraging the expertise of a true leading technology partner, you can achieve accurate, objective analysis and insight reports from within your existing training and selling flow of work, which will save you a great deal of evaluation and analysis time. A modern solution can let you:
- Examine how well each rep communicates and what kind of impact they have on customers
- Analyze strengths and critical opportunities for growth, individually and collectively
- Integrate communication and connection effectiveness with quota attainment
- Identify the specific behaviors, skills, and tactics that drive top performers' success
- Provide the resources lower performers need to acquire those skills
- Analyze and improve adherence to proven selling models
Winning or losing comes down to how you connect with your audience. Quantified Improves your communication, connection, and performance with the world’s most advanced AI-powered Conversation Intelligence and Coaching Platform.
It gives you science- and data-driven insights into sales team individual and collective performance. You can provide individual reps and the entire sales team with the support they need to deliver world-class in-person and virtual detailing, improve customer engagement and trust, and improve patient care. Quantified is a new way to fundamentally enhance human connection based on behavioral science, big data, and AI to deliver greater impact. Better conversations. Better outcomes. Request a demo now.