I understand the problems reps have with access and loss of the more traditional types of relationship-building tools (eg, time to chat, lunch, round of golf), but I have been talking with a consulting company that claims a new sales model is needed to counteract this very problem.
What they have in mind regarding relationship building is based a service model of selling -- bringing real value to the doctor, whatever that value may be for a particular doc. Some docs value therapeutic knowledge, others value patient support programs, staff training, CME, etc. These consultants say that the rep has to be the deiver or some of these things and the coordinator of other value-added activities that the company can deliver through MedEd or whatever and make sure that his client gets what he/she needs. In that way, a business relationship is built that leads to brand commitment.
Don't mean to sound condescending but is this supposed to be new? For those of us who've been in the industry - I have 18 years behind me now - we have sat through multiple presentations on this concept. This was the way of selling we were taught in the late 80's and early 90's. There weren't many of us but we were valued by our physicians. We were partners, not cheerleaders, and we knew our products, knew our physicians and their needs and made our products fit their specific requests. We worked as a team and brought value and information. Not cute short skirts and luncheons. I'm not jealous of these reps either. I am a model, participated in the MRS pageant representing my state and have done runway work in Chicago and New York and I am fourty. I know my products, I know the needs and desires of my clients, I take an interest in them rather than myself and my needs! We were taught this once upon a time - professionalism, respect, true sales and value, care for physicians, office staff, nurses, janitors - whoever worked in the office - no one was ignored. The industry has gotten out of control and that is sad because the true sales people who are hard working, respectable and value their positions and have strong desires to do their jobs right because they get joy from their positions and from helping other people - we are educated individuals with a lot to teach these newbies...yet no one seems to listen to experience any more. want to find out more visit http://blog.myspace/pharmarep for my story. Thanks but if you haven't been doing this before you haven't been selling in this industry, you've been a waste of the physician's time and have been a corporate robot.
Nice in Theory, But Physician Access Will Continue to Decline
The "Sales Force of the Future" has got to take into consideration that physicians are overloaded with patients and have little, if any time to see reps period. The no-see/low-see physician population continues to grow at a double digit rate and now accounts of ~40% of physicians (Health Strateiges Group, 2006). No wonder, massive medical serivce consumption growth by baby boomers and retirement rates of baby boomer physicians. The % growth of physician population is only in the 1-2% range. See how long it takes to get an appointment these days -- they out months!!
A well-trained rep is facing a pratice environment where they are hardly in the Top 10 of priorities, and therefore have been relegated primarily to sample drops. Changing the training and the tools has been shown to have limited short-term value (e.g. TabletPCs for the novelty). The current model relies on jamming uninvited reps into the unwelcome environment of today's medical practice -- does it sound like it has sustainablity even with better trained, better resourced reps? As ealier posts have stated, the model of "service-oriented" reps has been tried over the years. It still relies on access -- the math doesn't add.
But new models are finding effective access outside practice hours. Merck has just shown the investment community their effective new sales model that uses video detailing outside of office hours. It supported 5 major launches (including Januvia & Gardasil) in 2006 without adding field head count. These are the kinds of models that are working now. Let's stop just tinkering with the model that is declining in effectiveness (deck chairs on the Titanic perhaps?).
The pharma industry needs to be a chapter in business courses in universities - "How to kill your own industry in just 10 short years". It's like a dog that bite it's own tail and keeps running in circles, trying to find out why its tail hurts. The 40 yr old (other responder) hits the nail on the head with his/her comments. The consultant (responder) also has it right if the industry wants to move to a total commidity business, and maybe that's what we ultimately want. We say we don't, but that's where we are going the way we promote our products. Why not listen to the consultants and let them take us the rest of the way with video detailing. We either need to be a sales oriented industry and make physicians our customers or totally go to a marketing business and make the patient our customer. That is the decision that needs to be made, but if we want to keep the physician as our customer, we'll need to go back to a real sales model and stop DTC advertising. I'm afraid that too many PhDs and MBAs trade in their common sence for an endless search for new direction.
Evolving the pharma sales model to meet the needs of the customers (Patients and Doctors) is a natural healthy avenuw to take. Each company must put in place a framework and become part of thier culture to evaluate and re-think thier marketing strategies on an ongoing basis. The alignment of the sales model will evolve as part of this comprehensive framework. By assessing its current sales model it can set the path from mass detailing to a more segmented or account based focused effort for higher targeting and precession. The objective is always to achieve greater ROI and value add to customers.
I think changes in the strategies for marketing in the pharma industry can be done without making changes to the basic rules that we have in place!! With changing times, it is imperative that we look at modern marketing techniques and this will be possible only if professionals who have long years of experience and the younger crowd who have joined the industry recently sit together and chart out new ways to meet the challenges of modern marketing!!