COVID-19 has forever changed how pharmaceutical sales reps interact with healthcare practitioners (HCPs). With travel and flight restrictions continuing in many regions and the “new normal” of virtual sales meetings, the role of the pharma and biotech salesperson is resoundingly digital. As you contemplate how you and your colleagues are adapting to digital-first HCP engagement, consider these 5 strategies:

How pharma sales reps can engage HCPs virtually

#1. Understand your audience

You know first hand that each HCP is unique with their own goals, challenges, motivations, and communication preferences. The more you understand each HCP, the better position you’ll be in to have productive virtual conversations. One strategy you can use is to take a persona-driven approach to sales. Your marketing team may already have HCP personas. Reach out to them and ask. If they don’t, you can create your own personas:

  • Start by thinking of the different HCPs you interact with. What makes them similar? What makes them different? 
  • List out your different persona archetypes and then for each, document their goals, challenges, motivations, digital habits, and what kind of digital content they like to receive. 
  • Document which virtual engagement tactics they tend to avoid or prefer (phone calls, video calls, email, etc.)

Understanding your HCP personas will help you adhere to their digital engagement preferences, recognize pain points in each conversation, and drive your strategy for each account.

#2: Push new patient-centric content needs to marketing

The pandemic has changed HCP content needs and pharma companies are adapting. A recent Accenture report states that due to the decrease in in-person healthcare visits, HCPs are looking for new, relevant content that supports patient needs in a remote environment. 

According to the report, HCPs find the following content and support services most helpful: 

  • Digital patient education
  • Information on how treatment options may change post COVID-19
  • Education on how to better treat patients remotely
  • Helping patients understand where they can access labs, infusion centers or imaging centers
  • Specific information on helping patients manage their conditions in light of COVID-19
  • Solutions to help practices afford and keep stock of therapies

Do any of these content ideas resonate with you in regards to your product? Listen to HCPs about the patient-centric support content that would be most helpful and push that to your marketing team. The faster you do, the faster you will have it ready for virtual engagement with your HCPs during and post COVID-19.

#3: Tailor content for virtual engagement

In addition to creating changes in the types of content HCPs need, the pandemic is also prompting pharma and biotech companies to modernize the format of the content they are sharing with HCPs. Virtual engagement means video, engaging web pages, slide decks with animation. Let the digital environment be an asset to you—a way to tell your product and patient stories in a compelling and convincing way. Based on your conversations, you can follow up with relevant, value-adding content that ties to your conversation and continues to communicate the value and benefits of your product.

#4: Embrace timeliness

As a pharma sales rep you know more than anyone how critical it is to not waste an HCPs time. This is where virtual digital engagement strategies can work to your advantage. During a conversation, be ready to share links to product, clinical, and medical information on-the-spot to support your conversation. Before meetings, create digital content collections based on their persona or their therapeutic area of expertise, so you are ready to instantly share relevant content depending on pain points or needs.

#5: Use data to your advantage

Digital-first means you have the advantage of instant metrics at your fingertips. Use a sales enablement platform built specifically for life sciences to leverage metrics like content views, downloads, and shares to determine what content HCPs find most interesting. This data will give you a sense of which content is most helpful and engaging. You can then apply that learning to future virtual meetings and your content sharing decisions.

Summary

Covid-19 has changed work for so many people in so many ways. For pharma and biotech sales reps, the current challenge is to be as dynamic a seller today as you were before the pandemic. Strategies like understanding your audience, collaborating with marketing, tailoring content for virtual engagement, embracing timeliness and using data to your advantage will help you tackle the challenge and embrace the digital-first world.


References:
  1. https://www.saleshacker.com/create-buyer-persona/ 
  2. https://www.accenture.com/us-en/insights/life-sciences/coronavirus-changing-pharma-hcp-engagement
  3. https://www.vodori.com/products/pepper-folio/