Virtual Sales Reps

Let me start this post by saying that I think it's Groundhog Day. This come "trend" has been coming for as long as I can remember and I like to think I have a long memory. I have touched on this a few times in the past. I recommend you read what I wrote back in September 2008 before proceeding.

The fact remains that traditional sales reps dropping off pens and mugs is dead Advamed is ensuring that the old model is dead and the effectiveness has been dead for awhile. Doctors are under so much pressure that they will not do anything during the hours they can see a patient that detracts from billing. Aside from the infrequent and highly valuable 30 second "meeting" in the hallway (tongue planted firmly in cheek) with a sales rep they don't want to see unless there is something valuable or new to say or both.

That's not to say that I don't think sales reps have a role--they do in many other channels such as Managed Care, Retail, etc. But for HCPs, the influence has been dwindling for some time and it's why I talk about the orthopedic industry and have discussed the now notorious "consulting agreements."

IMHO, DTC and interactive is where it's at now and will be in the future. You can develop a relationship with key opinion leaders and cultivate relationships that will pay dividends for your organization in the form of product development, ideas, marketing programs, messaging, etc. However, the days of backing up the truck and bringing lunch and dropping off samples does not work. The paradigm has changed. You need to provide value and to be authentic and transparent.

If you can deliver information remotely on the Doctor's time, say in a webinar, webcast or the like, well then they have time for that. At their leisure = good. In the middle of their day = bad.

Via PharmaLive:

Smaller, more virtual sales forces will be the major trend in physician detailing in 2009. A virtual sales force takes a variety of forms, including closed-loop marketing and online promotional tools that combine e-detailing with more sophisticated human interactions.
The problem with delivery? Your average VP of Sales in a large organization is not usually technologically savvy and this is really about delivering value using technology rather than a well trained person with 3 well memorized talking points. You're moving into the gray area of multi-channel marketing and sales with marketing working together and you're using interactive as a sales driver. Whew. Sounds like a tall order.

Can it be done? Yes. Does it require some tough decisions and to place a bet in a very tough environment? Yes. Will there be a mass movement in 2009 as PharmaLive suggests? I don't think so?

What do you think?

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