In the End It’s All Personal
At its core, making a connection with providers is personal. Whether you deploy non-personal or personal techniques to promote products, the goal is to develop relationships that drive business. In today’s health-care environment, there is little opportunity to clone relationships from one practice to another. In the modern era of limited contact, customized, unique and personal customer relationships are essential for an effective sales force.
Identifying the key players in building quality relationships is more complex and challenging than it was a few years ago when a sales representative could walk into a practice and sit down with one or more prescribers. A drug manufacturer’s customers may now include:
- Direct prescribers, such as physicians, advanced-practice nurses and other hospital staff
- C-suite leaders
Each class of customers has its own needs and plays an important role in influencing prescribing behaviors and decisions.
C-Suite Leaders: When practices merge or become part of a hospital system, physicians who are used to making individual drug purchasing decisions typically abdicate that control to a centralized service. Although individual physicians may have input on preferred drugs, relationships with sales representatives are just as likely to be with administrative decision-makers and supply-chain personnel, or even health-care educators.
Payers: Practices and hospitals place equal importance on providing quality outcomes and ensuring organizational financial stability. Payers, with their need to manage brand reimbursements, are a prime consideration during a practice’s or hospital’s drug purchasing negotiations. Providing hard data to payers about a product’s benefits can have a positive influence on formulary decisions.
Pharmacists: The needs and interests of two classes of customers —prescribers and patients — converge in the pharmacy. Pharmacists have the power to switch prescribed brands in some situations and are also a valuable tool in driving patient adherence. Pharmacists, armed with the most current information, are able to educate patients about the benefits and costs associated with specific drugs.
Patients: Direct patient advertising helps to incubate a more informed patient population. Television, print and digital ads and Apps make drug information easily available. Patients often enter their doctor’s office with information and knowledge they gather online, or while reading a magazine or watching TV. Timing patient advertising to coincide with provider outreach optimizes that messaging. The sales force can focus the message on the patient, while also supplying the provider clinical information and patient education materials that can reinforce his or her prescribing decisions.
Direct prescribers: The individuals writing the prescriptions are still the preeminent customers for drug manufactures and are vital to any sales force strategy. However, the time they can dedicate to meeting with sales representatives is extremely limited due to patient care, compliance requirements, continuing medical education and self-imposed research to remain up to date on the latest innovations and therapies. Therefore, it is critical to use all available resources to gain insight into this class of customer and to deliver information in a manner that adds value to their delivery of care and respects their information-gathering preferences and schedules.
Which stakeholders do you prioritize in your marketing efforts? Tweet @MMITnetwork to have a conversation and check back later this week for Perspectives on Pharma Marketing: Part 2.