COVID-19 has forced pharmaceutical companies to turn on a dime from in-person sales efforts to arm’s length promotional strategies. Social distancing. Over-burdened HCPs in front-line roles. Laid off HCPs in non-essential specialties. And, the eventual taxing of a health system playing catch-up on non-essential needs that are currently on hold during the crisis. All of this forces sales reps not only to operate at a distance, but to serve physicians in a reactive mode where reps are fielding calls for samples and other critical support, but not actively calling on their customers.
What are some steps you can take to reoptimize sales support in light of this emerging paradigm?
Distinguish between ‘push’ and ‘pull’ channels: Not all channels are created equally. Each plays a different strategic role. Channels like email are good for actively pushing content out to customers, while other channels like websites serve as an on-demand resource.
Optimize level of detail by channel: When a physician is browsing emails or online journals, they are not actively looking for information on your brand—your content should be a sound bite. Too much content can overwhelm and cause abandonment, even before physicians actually read any of it. On the other hand, when physicians are in active info-seeking mode (e.g., on a branded website), greater detail is appropriate.
Integrate channels to work as a system: With content level optimized by channel, align your push and pull mediums to work together and connect in multiple ways. This delivers the right message at the right time in the right place for your stakeholders—while providing links to further details for those who are interested in additional content.
Re-segment your targets: Taking in-person activities out of the mix necessitates a reevaluation of your promotional mix and channel re-optimization. Segmenting physicians without the personal promotion channel can help ensure resources are being deployed to the right segments and at the right cadence. This can often be accomplished via reanalysis of existing survey and behavioral data.
Reevaluate and refine your content: Market research conducted explicitly in the context of the intended channel type (e.g., actively seeking info vs. passively receiving it) with a focus on ensuring your call-to-action (CTA) works optimally will help to enhance effectiveness.
Update your promotional effectiveness measures: Instead of share of voice (a sales rep-centric measure) or even ad tracking (which has a limited channel applicability), consider an updated methodology that can help you measure across all your varied customer touchpoints/channels and optimize resources in an increasingly complex, multi-channel world.