The title of this post may seem a surprise to some but it could be considered a realistic question. It wasn’t long ago when there seemed to be a big cull of pharmaceutical sales representatives!! It’s certainly evident that access to clinicians has become more challenging, and the expectations have changed, so could sales reps become a thing of the past?
In reality, it is unlikely that we will ever see their complete demise, and indeed many clinicians still welcome the input of medical representatives, but it is clear that healthcare providers are choosing a variety of channels to receive information about medical products rather than relying on the sales representative alone which they may have done in the past.
As has been seen in the consumer environment the customer journey is no longer linear. The approach that is taken to reach out and engage with clinicians will evolve, and become much more fragmented, as the options are available for clinicians to receive their information elsewhere. As a result, sales representatives will be required to tailor their sales process to the individual, helping to nurture the customer journey, rather than taking a generic approach. In order to achieve this there will be a need for greater collaboration, and alignment, between sales and marketing teams which hasn’t been fully established in the medical industry to date.
Historically, marketing roles have focused on the ‘product management’ side of the business rather than true marketing activities. This was largely the result of the channels available to promote devices which would not have been truly ethical, or effective. However, with the rise of the internet there have been an increasing number of channels that have become available in order to support lead generation activities within the industry and these should be adopted in order to effectively position products and services. The beauty of these channels is that they can be highly targeted, and thus cost effective, when compared to traditional methods of advertising.
Digital marketing will become a more important tool for medical suppliers to ensure they are effectively promoting their devices to a wide range of customers. This medium provides the platform for suppliers to add value, and educate customers in order to help them along the buying journey. These methods will help provide the ‘warm’ leads for sales teams to follow up allowing them to adopt a more inbound approach to sales development, rather than relying on the traditional cold calling techniques of the past. These techniques will not replace the older methods, and practices, but will serve as an additional tool to help sales teams to hit quota with confidence.
Organisations should recognise that the environment has changed, and has become more challenging for sales teams. Whilst sales representatives should remain an important function within the medical industry, their focus will shift to the later stages of the customer journey and they will rely more heavily on marketing support in the earlier stages of the purchasing process.
Has your organisation made consideration for these changes and started to evolve in the modern sales environment?