By Paul Harrington
Friends, Romans, and countrymen, lend me your ears: I come not to praise the CVA, but to bury it.
The CVA or Core Visual Aid the most commonly used sales tool in the armamentarium of pharmaceutical sales is dead, dead, dead. Certainly, for decades it had served us well: it gave pharma reps a “show-n-tell tool with glossy pictures, snappy pullouts, and easy-to-read safety information.
The days of the CVA were heady times indeed. Ad agencies created massive image campaigns to fill them. Media companies sold miles of ad space to promote them. Printing companies chopped down million of trees to fuel the reams of paper need to manufacture them.
But a funny thing happened on the way from the sales reps car to the doctors office: the CVA started getting left behind. “Ho-hum, said the physician, “Ive seen all this before. I dont want your glossy Madison Avenue schtick anymore. Give me my samples and off with you! Git now!
Suddenly, a CVA wasnt a magic door opener. It was a static, 20th Century leftover from The Cosby Show. The CVA was DOA. Moment of silence¢‚Ç¨¬¶
The 21st Century is the Era of the IVA: the Interactive Visual Aid. And it will be a vital, liberating time indeed.
If the CVA is a script the rep uses to tell the doctor a story, what exactly is an IVA? Think of it as the IMAX version of the script, the flat story brought to life with moving pictures, bold colors, energetic characters, motivating scene changes, and an easy-to-follow, engaging performance.
If you think of an IVA as just an electronic version of the old paper CVA, youre selling yourself and the medium short. Think of an IVA more like an informational kiosk at the airport or a convention. Its a two-way exchange of exploration and education, and medicine will be all the better for its implementation. Charts and diagrams animate to tell a fuller story. Patients walk, speak and escort the viewer on a tour of their lives. References and study designs appear in abbreviated or complete detail simply by touching on a fact. Studies can energetically unfold and tell a fuller story. And calls can be customized to meet the needs of a particular physician or sales initiative. The days of folding over a brochure and flipping through dog-eared pages are over.
Heres how it works: a pharmaceutical sales representative wakes up on Monday morning and turns on her laptop computer. (If she works for a cutting edge company, her computer is one a slew of new tablet computers that are lightweight, slim, and built for show-n-tell.) The rep logs in and gets a new directive from HQ on a recent study and how it can improve patient outcomes; an updated call flow is automatically downloaded to her computer, along with a learning module or implementation guide that instructs her on how to craft a compelling sales call utilizing the new information.
When the rep calls on Dr. Feelgood later on in the day, shes able to catch and hold his attention in the hallway by utilizing the stopping power of her new IVA. In fact, the good Doctor spends more time than usual with the rep, because the interactive presentation of the new data has captured his interest and engrossed him, and hes taking an active role in the presentation.
An IVA offers a fluid stage that allows figures and studies to dynamically unfold and telling a compelling story. Patient profiles come to life with patients who can move, speak, explain (and complain), and demonstrate results. Touch-screen interfaces the latest and greatest in the technological advances that the IVA can leverage allow a physician to interact with and manipulate the information to answer their questions. And reps can easily stay on message, on label and focus more on selling.
Lets not mince words: making the move from CVA to IVA isnt easy or cheap. Anyone whos made the leap from regulation TV to HDTV knows that stepping up the technology ladder is expensive and sometimes trying, and IVAs are no exception.
Certainly, there are the hard costs: outfitting your sales force with computers/hardware to use is not cheap and like any computer, they need constant repairs, updates and upgrades. Then there are the softer costs, like training, technical support, high-speed connections, yada yada yada.
Another cost factor to consider is the content. Whereas your ad agency used to simply set up a photo shoot for this years CVA and campaign, they now have to create interactive content that can be utilized in the IVA: HD video, sound, animations, and so forth this can add extra hundreds of thousands of dollars to the cost of campaign creation.
However unclench those muscles these creative assets can be applied across multiple mediums (such as websites, trade shows, and advertising outlets like smart phones) and if crafted wisely, will actually yield more creative bang for your buck. Were in the 2.0 age of the digital revolution, and the costs will only continue to drop as more and more outlets clamor for your marketing dollar.
If you embrace the day and recognize the massive advantage an IVA offers your sales force, you may find that you actually can cut costs while improving output. Youll help the environment by cutting down dramatically on paper use. You may even see your competitors struggle to react to your bold initiatives.
Whats the first step? Talk to your ad agency: if theyre not up to speed on how to deploy interactive sales tools for your company, find one that can. This isnt the wave of the future: the water is already upon you and up to your knees.
So rest in peace, ol CVA. You were good and did us proud, but your time has passed. Vive la IVA!!