The pharma hybrid sales model – an opportunity to reimagine the customer experience

As we start to slowly emerge from the COVID pandemic to a more ‘normal’ life, pharma companies face yet another paradigm shift in their interactions with healthcare professionals. With a huge movement towards virtual interactions over the past year and a half – what will the balance with face-to-face look like for sales reps and HCPs going forward? And how can pharma be best prepared for the changes ahead?

Digital transformation in the pharmaceutical industry has been slow moving (especially compared to industries such as finance and FMCG). When the COVID pandemic hit, pharma companies faced a huge change in the way their sales team had to operate and engage with healthcare professionals. Suddenly, hospital and surgery doors were closed to sales teams and all engagements had to transition to virtual meetings, phone calls and emails.

According to the field rep activities captured in the Veeva CRM pulse trends, throughout 2020 the use of virtual meetings for rep-to-HCP interactions increased sixfold globally, whilst rep-sent emails rose nearly fivefold.

There are significant benefits to digital engagement; it’s cheaper, there’s no travel time and evidence from the Veeva CRM pulse trends suggests that virtual meetings extended the amount of time HCPs would interact with reps from an average of 3 for face-to-face meetings to 19 minutes. However, not all healthcare professionals appreciate the movement to purely digital engagement and there is a perception amongst sales reps that remote interactions aren’t as effective, and relationships and rapport are easier to build during a face-to-face meeting.

With restrictions on in-person sales rep meetings likely to persist even after we emerge from the pandemic, there is an immediate need to reimagine the pharma sales model that requires a mix of face-to-face and virtual interactions to reach healthcare professionals in the most effective way.

In order to succeed in transitioning to a hybrid sales model, pharma companies need to address five key questions:

  • What are your customers’ channel preferences?
  • What new skills and behaviours do your sales team need to adopt?
  • How do you adapt your content to the different channels?
  • What digital capabilities are needed to better support your sales team?
  • What new metrics are needed to assess customer engagement and quality?

The winners will be those that adopt a more agile, creative and flexible approach to sales.

Get in touch with the Health team to learn more about our expertise in Sales Force Effectiveness, Customer segmentations and Digital Transformation.