A recent report found that only half of prescribers were ‘accessible’ to sales reps. This is a remarkable decline from 2008, when more than three quarters were open to meeting with the pharma field force.
Using data from 200 pharma sales teams, the wide-ranging report from ZS Associates* examines the behavior of some 325,000 prescribers based in the U.S.
It found the most severe declines in the availability of HCPs were in the specialties of dermatology, gastroenterology and pediatrics, while the most draconian access restrictions came from internists and oncologists.
“Today, the average rep can see an oncologist only seven or eight times per year — and even the best reps visit oncologists just once per month.” said one of the report’s authors.
What’s behind the worsening situation? Several reasons have been cited:
- ‘Channel erosion’ - too many sales reps asking for doctors’ time.
- Poor reputation - the impression that reps aren’t providing useful information.
- More physicians joining group practices that tend to have restrictive policies on access.
- Large groups streamlining business practices and exerting pressure on doctors’ time.
Shorter visits key to access
In a separate study*, it was found that 85% of HCPs thought that the ideal length of visit was just five minutes, with strong resistance to meetings lasting 15 minutes or more.
This suggests that the key for reps is to focus on scheduling short, tightly-focused meetings in which key value messages are conveyed succinctly and impactfully.
It was also found to be easier for reps with one or more new products to get face-time with HCPs, particularly if the product has clinical or economic advantages over competitors.
Increased resistance to longer meetings with reps does not necessarily translate to a complete rejection of value messaging. Fully 79% of respondents indicated that a preferred method of communication was e-detailing, suggesting that the use of apps and other digital content as a ‘leave behind’ might be a winning strategy.
Structuring customer engagement apps to maximize impact
In a world where five minutes is the expected duration of a meeting, it’s essential for commercial teams to prepare a concise presentation that focuses on the key value messages. In other words, they need to get to the point quickly.
To do this, our advice to clients is to create apps with a maximum of one key message per page, with a low density of text. Apps should be created using ‘layers’ of information (e.g. pop ups, or swipeable slideshows) to offer prescribers more information if they need it.
The strong preference among prescribers for digital materials, or e-detailing, also makes it essential, now more than ever, to add a final page in the app offering prescribers the chance to download a PDF report based on the presentation, or email it to themselves or colleagues.
Ideally, your materials will be shared more widely and continue to be consumed by customers, long after your reps’ five minutes are up.
Creating tailored presentations using BaseCase Interactive
The authors of the report note that:
Reps need to work closely with marketing departments to implement customer-centric approaches. Reps can “orchestrate” and optimize inbound and outbound contacts with customers— gathering information about the physician experience and working with marketing to design the best ways to engage with individual physicians.
Physicians don’t want to waste time on generic information that’s only partially relevant to their situation. To create really customer-specific presentations, you can use the built-in spreadsheet editor on BaseCase Interactive.
While this is more widely used by market access teams to integrate health economic models for payer engagement, it can also be used to create sales presentations that have adjustable inputs, so the physician can enter a few key variables about their patient population. The content that’s displayed will be determined by the information inputted by the customer.
By creating apps that have input-contingent content built-in, you can empower physicians to essentially choose the value messages that are most relevant or persuasive for them.
Finally, to make sure you’re offering the most relevant information, we suggest creating a number of “custom storyboards” (e.g. for different types of institution, or prescriber), using the Storyboard Editor.