Even as some of the effects of COVID-19 have begun to wane, it’s a challenging time to be a life-sciences sales representative. Survey after survey indicates that rep access remains a challenge. “No-see” policies, live-meeting reluctance from healthcare professionals (HCPs) and the time crunch HCPs face all represent barriers that reps must overcome.
Still, representatives remain among HCPs’ highly trusted sources of information. A survey of physicians from March of this year revealed they value their rep for information about a new product more than any other source – including journal articles.
Technology was supposed to bring on a new future for the sales interaction: greater insight into the customer, leading to better and more effective interactions. But for many, sales tools have amounted to little more than clickable documents, supported by a follow-up email.
How can we do better? There are three primary areas of focus.
Customers expect more.
Today, customers expect companies to learn from every touchpoint; to know what customers have seen, learn from the actions they take (and don’t take), and act accordingly. Life sciences has been behind consumer companies in customer experience. Some marketers still maintain separation between personal and non-personal promotion, leading to a disjointed communication approach focused on channels. And although companies have extensive data sets, many in the life sciences are still working to translate that into insights that drive interactions to connect and enhance sales efforts. Leveraging improved data sets to advance targeting, managing modular content to ensure the right messages are delivered, and elevating the next best action to move customers along the experience curve — this work is what’s needed to truly help reps maximize their impact.
Reps are customers too.
We’ve mentioned that not every life sciences company has managed to seamlessly integrate rep efforts with other communications to HCPs. It can be a dramatic mindset shift for reps to see themselves as the center of an ecosystem that is constantly evolving. Marketers need to support that necessary change management and the training required to help reps expand their current view. It’s not enough to help them understand what they need to do. Training must also provide the why and the how: context about the assets and activities that support their efforts to drive understanding and commitment to a more integrated customer experience.
Governance systems must evolve.
Not every life sciences company is set up for a modern, personalized customer experience. The right tech stack – one that integrates seamlessly to support the company’s communications and business goals – is essential. Beyond that, there’s the challenge of getting the appropriate levels of medical, regulatory and legal input on all the content that informs personalized customer experiences. And though we may be past the days when our MRL counterparts wanted to see a printout of a website or sales tool, companies’ ability to properly integrate MRL input hasn’t kept pace. This has created a gap between what customers want and expect — and what marketers can actually deliver through their own internal systems. Engaging reviewers and other stakeholders in a process to establish content guidelines with clear business rules can accelerate approvals and fast-track the development of personalized communications.
How does it all come together to create a modern sales interaction? Integrating personal and non-personal activities is challenging, but essential. And you need an agency that can deliver integrated solutions to these challenges. We’re helping clients achieve more by creating synchronized experiences that are rooted in data that informs the ecosystem and expands via a learning loop from every interaction. We’re supporting clients who are surrounding representatives with the right messaging and informing their interactions with customers. And we’re working every day to align the governance realities of the life sciences to provide modern, personalized sales interactions that deliver results.