Gone are the days when a pharma sales rep (PSR) could take a healthcare provider out to dinner and seal the deal over coffee and dessert. Today, ethical implications, regulatory oversight, practice/hospital mergers and time-crunching clinic schedules limit the amount of one-on-one face-time a PSR has with a provider.
The weak of heart may not buck the trend, turning instead to mundane flyers and messages left with front-office personnel after another failed attempt to get in the door. The effective PSR, however, looks at the trend as a personal challenge to be more flexible, more efficient and more innovative. It’s easy to close your eyes to change — it’s exciting to embrace change. The right response can open doors and close deals.
PSRs are both distributors and recipients of information.
PSRs, by the very nature of their job descriptions, are representatives of their companies. They are eager to distribute information that will persuade healthcare providers to prescribe the medications their companies want to get into the marketplace. It is just as important, however, for PSRs to be recipients of information — to investigate, and to listen and learn from providers. It is imperative for PSRs to remain expressly knowledgeable about their companies, and the research and benefits of the medications. But it is equally important for them to know their audience. Closed-loop marketing (CLM) allows PSRs to gain valuable insight into healthcare providers long before they attempt to engage them. And then, once the PSR has the provider’s attention, asking questions and encouraging two-way conversations gives additional insight into what the providers want to know about pharma products, what issues affect their patients and how the PSR can best support them. This type of information has long-term value.
Patients are end-users.
A PSR’s target audience can no longer be singularly defined as “healthcare provider.” Patients are coming to their doctors’ offices armed with information about medical conditions, treatments and medications they have gathered online, from newspapers and TV, and from friends and family members. An educated patient is both a valuable team member — one who can contribute greatly influence outcomes — and a challenge. Doctors must sift through the information and help the patients toss out what is not applicable to his or her medical condition. The PSR who includes patients as part of the target audience is supporting healthcare providers and ensuring patients have access to the most accurate and trustworthy information. Providers are conduits — patients are end-users. Both are critical components of a successful marketing campaign.
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