Ironically, the best bet to increase sales reps’ in-person interaction time is better digital engagement.
This story isn’t new to anyone in healthcare sales: Reps see their access to physicians dwindling. We all know that. The bigger questions for marketers and sales leaders are, why and what can we do about it? I was hoping you’d ask that. There are two significant influencers in the decreasing access to doctors and one clear way to address them.
Why: Age & Organization
The doctors who have been working with sales reps throughout their careers are being outnumbered by new, younger doctors who have not experienced value from relationships with reps. It’s not just their age that’s changing the in-person visit dynamic, though. Around 70 to 80% of these larger organizations enforce limitations on how often physicians can see reps. With 90% of new doctors joining health systems after graduation, these restrictions are a major factor affecting the doctor and rep dynamic.
More Why: Value
Both younger and more experienced doctors, whether in group practices or independent, show a strong preference for digital contact. Physicians’ busy schedules require them to make the most of every interaction. Respondents say that digital sales materials, such as emails, e-details, websites and social media, provide greater value because they are more flexible and provide personalized content.
When doctors do see reps, they primarily look to them for product information. They cite printed and digital material as preferred resources for clinical information. There is a lot that we can learn from this. For reps that are selling commodities or disposable goods, this may not be tremendously important; for those trying to reinforce their role as a trusted information resource, this is crucial.
What We Can Do: Bring the Value
First and foremost, reps need to be better equipped to bring value to a clinical conversation. They need the training and the tools to support real clinical conversations, conversations that uncover needs physicians face in their practices, and offer solutions.
Specifically, medical sales teams need interactive digital tools to engage doctors. If doctors are already comfortable with digital contact, let’s use that to elevate the role of the rep rather than replace it. For example, digital follow up sent directly from a rep’s iPad-based e-detailing tool during a conversation gives the customer personalized information that she can review at her convenience and more value from the meeting.
Many no-see restrictions are the result of doctors feeling that their time has been wasted by reps. To increase face time, reps have to increase value. 52% of physicians surveyed agree that the role of the sales rep needs to evolve. All of this means one big opportunity for medical sales organizations to maintain their role as trusted advisors by more effectively leveraging digital engagement strategies.