A New Era For Pharma-HCPs Relationships?
For several years, Pharma companies have been insistent the industry needed a new working model. However, the uncertainty of its success fostered apprehension, causing no firms to take the initial step to implement this new model. The industry needed to diversify and optimize its relationship with Health Care Professionals, in a time when reaching customers was more limited, with increasing regulatory constraints.
Nevertheless, COVID-19 has accelerated this inevitable change. Companies had to embrace the “new normal”; and leaders had to inspire and guide their employees in implementing personalised and suitable sales model for their clients. Pharma companies and their teams were unprepared for the long-term implications of the industry’s restructuring and the post-crisis recovery. For a smooth but necessary transition, those companies need to keep up with changes and face challenges efficiently.
◔ OVERCOMING THE CHALLENGES
Today, Pharma companies need to manage upstream expectations and downstream challenges in an environment which has begun its transformation. Indeed, because of Covid-19, the French government had to activate the ORSAN plan: healthcare professionals were no longer allowed to visit hospitals for face-to-face interactions with physicians, nurses, surgeons, etc. These constraints were more severe in 2020, and firms knew they would loosen in the future without reverting to what they were.
After more than a year dealing with the pandemic, some urgency questions remain. How are Sales Reps promoting their products remotely with the same or higher efficiency? How are medical teams continuing to deliver scientific information remotely to develop their partnerships with HCPs? What digital tools do they have to secure business? How are they accompanying their teams to overcome their current concerns about the transition? And what will the long-term impact be?
So far, too many companies are still struggling to submit a consistent plan to their Sales Reps and Medical Affairs specialists to work skilfully remotely. Efficient restructuring execution requires available commercial capacities along with resources to be improved. Comprehensive distance training materials and programmes need to be readily accessible to Sales Reps, Medical Affairs specialists and HCPs.
It is the perfect opportunity for Pharma companies to reconsider their ways of working, redesign processes and finally reinvent their business model to fit this new environment. To do so, companies must ensure managers and their teams are prepared with the right skillset and mindset. Additionally, Regional sales leaders must assume a new major function as transition agents to make sure clients get the required sales model implemented.
◑ BUILDING THE NEW ERA
Physical interaction will still be necessary; however, online content, remote participation and automated facilities will take precedence in addressing concerns before resorting to in-person meetings. This can be a great challenge as face-to-face was previously the norm. Sales calls relied heavily on body language cues, limited distractions, transparency and its interactive nature to expedite efficient meetings. Research indicates that Pharma already counts on virtual outreach significantly more than on representative calls. Geoffrey McCleary – PWC Director agrees that “If done right, most of these changes can stick after the stoppage. Companies will learn how to deploy AI and virtual tools more effectively and how to better use a now-hybridized field force more effectively and efficiently.”
A solution could be using a mix of digital tools and physical promotional activities to improve awareness. Digital technologies can improve interaction and communication between HCPs and Medical Affairs specialists/ Sales Representatives in respect to their needs. It calls for the creation of « best practice » abilities to establish a favourable edge in all critical operations.
Virtual interactions can be customized to preferences and/or necessary plans-of-action thanks to different methods such as e-conferences, e-training, etc. or a combination of virtual interaction and in-person meetings. By providing the proper means (CRM, time/monitoring/performance management tools), the switch to a new method of communication will be efficient and smooth while also simplifying virtual training or sales activities.
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