By Dan Bobear (@dbobear)
A salesman has got to dream it comes with the territory.
Playwright Arthur Miller wrote that quote in 1949, but for todays pharmaceutical sales force, the words still ring true. As door-to-door sales have given way to more sophisticated approaches, sales organizations need to dream big with their eyes wide open. The sales force of the future is, after all, the sales force of today but more.
More mobile: One trend that will continue is the need for mobile applications and sales force automation to improve responsiveness and provide better pharmaceutical communication and education. Pharmaceutical sales representatives will still need to make informative presentations, provide pricing and order-history information, produce all necessary forms and capture signatures during time-constrained meetings. While that wont change, computing devices such as handhelds, wireless e-mail devices, conventional notebook computers and tablet PCs will give way to even more robust and affordable mobile devices.
Getting information to physicians quickly will be even more critical. Investing in technologies such as the iPad and physician-oriented mobile and health apps will provide new ways to sell and are easy to implement. Through more interactive content, reps will be able to provide more detailed information and deliver a richer, better and more effective sales experience.
More metrics-driven: More careful, accurate and constant campaign tracking and analysis will also shape the sales force of the future. Technology that helps reps better understand metrics such as physician prescribing preferences, patient demographics, and how many sales reps need to be assigned to a particular practice along with the resources to manage, interpret and communicate findings will increase sales force effectiveness. After all, you cant measure what you dont know.
Organizations need to keep pace with changes in how prescribing decisions are made and gain fact-based insight into what drives prescribing behavior. The rapidly changing drug market place and heightened regulatory requirements will require more targeted promotion activity for new Rx and OTC products. Pressure to differentiate from the competition will continue to intensify. As a result, the sales force of the future will need better insight into how promotion activity influences behavior to drive higher performance.
More reliant on hard data: However, its not enough to simply gather data. Organizations need to analyze it and use the information swiftly to make informed business decisions. The opportunity lies in transforming data from a support tool to a strategic weapon. A new breed of data-driven sales forces will emerge, incorporating information analysis and management as a distinctive capability. By understanding critical business trends, sales organizations can create physician-centric campaigns, make decisions based on real data and establish relationships built on value.
More social: Relationship building will also continue to be an integral part of sales success in the future, but how those relationships are cultivated and strengthened will rely on more than just in-office sales calls. Sales representatives will need to integrate more into the physicians social stream whether thats through online events, webinars, or other multimedia platforms and educate consumers through social mediums such as YouTube or Facebook applications. Videos, chat rooms and other interactive portals promote a better understanding of health and treatment options available. Supporting traditional sales activity with a digital strategy enables organizations to demonstrate thought leadership, forge discussion between doctors and patients about treatment options and exposes a wider audience to key brand messages.
The sales force of the future needs to do more than just dream. They need to embrace new technologies and find innovative ways of enhancing productivity, effectiveness and influencing behavior.
The future is already here. Are you ready?