Why Remote Communication with Physicians is Needed NOW- From a Sales Executive

May 15, 2020 | Article

Over the past few decades, pharmaceutical sales reps’ access has steadily decreased, and it has become increasingly tough for them to deliver a strong, in-person sales presentation.  The old stand-by approach would be to set up camp at the sample closet, pretending to organize your products and wait for the physician to walk by.

Then, hand a file card for your lead drug on sales directly to the unsuspecting victim, while blurting out a few product features and benefits. 

These days, many of the reps are restricted from the closet and must hand their samples over the counter to the office manager.  To add insult to injury, the gatekeeper asks the rep for their tablet or pc and brings it in the back. He/she then returns with the physician’s signature, removing any impromptu personal engagement opportunity from the brief visit.

Large institutions are buying up physician practices and the doctor’s role is changing from entrepreneur and small business owner to an employee working for a large healthcare conglomerate.  As an employee, the physician has daily patient quotas that their employer requires them to achieve. 

professional doctor use computer and tablet to work with the technology or digial health treatment.

Therefore, their time during patient hours is limited to treating patients and does not necessarily include seeing sales representatives.  With many of these institutions disallowing samples, it removes yet another reason for the average sales rep to gain physician access.

The average physician has approximately 2,800 sale rep contacts per year.

These come in the form of text messages, emails, phone calls, web meetings, and personal visits, all of which are in a highly cluttered and saturated environment that in many cases, disregards the physician’s limited hours to treat patients. 

This results in an all-time low of only 44% of physicians still allowing sales reps access.

The lack of personal selling time is compounded by pharma code guidelines disallowing any branding of non-medically relevant items within the physician office to serve as a reminder for their drug.  In the past, it wasn’t unusual to take physicians to a game or entertainment event, but those days are long gone. 

As if that isn’t enough, sales teams are shrinking – causing an increase in the geographic size of territories. This could result in more overnights away from home and sales reps stretching themselves thin to cover some of their remote territory areas that are still highly productive contributors to that territory’s success.  The frustration is compounded when there is a request from another part of their territory in need of their services.

A significant number of sales reps don’t look at a career in sales as their final stop.  They want to climb the corporate ladder. As a result, they are given additional responsibilities including field training duties, in-plant sales training school advisor assignments, marketing preceptorships, and running district sales meetings – all of which pull them from their normal sales territory obligations. 

It becomes a balancing act between maintaining their territory and key brand’s market share, while at the same time completing those developmental tasks necessary to be considered for promotion to management.

The challenges faced by today’s pharma sales reps are particularly acute since March of this year.  Sales teams around the world have been grounded by the COVID19 pandemic, and even when they can get back in the field, the backlog of chronic care and routine patient visits will further reduce physician access for months to come. 

Many pharma companies realize the importance of the in-person sales engagement, but many considering the coronavirus outbreak are exploring alternate ways to stay in contact with HCPs and provide the needed support to their field sales teams.

Portrait of customer service operator talking on phone in the office.

One alternate way to stay in contact with HCPs is by opening a remote channel of engagement through a desktop device, such as Swittons. Swittons is a remote communication device that can be placed on physicians’ desk and result in sales reps connecting with HCPs like never before.

If you’re interested in learning more about how Swittons can solve the pain-points mentioned in this article from a former sales rep, chat with us today by clicking below.