How about a digital tool that will let you, the pharma sales rep touch 300 doctors a day instead of 5? This will separate the stellar sales people from the farmers.
In this first of a 2 part series (Part 2 – Why private social networking for pharma sales is a winner) we describe market research performed for a private social networking project for pharmaceutical marketing.
Over a period of 3 months, data was collected in Central Europe and Israel from 5 pharmas, a large HMO, doctors and medical representatives using face to face discussions and feedback acquired by presenting a working prototype.
The data was analyzed using a systematic approach in order to capture the current state of play in the industry and build what we believe will be a new market space.
Doctors and sales reps get it.
Doctors and medical representatives “get” the idea of a private social network (one representative used the metaphor of hub and spoke, with the rep at the center spoke).
Medical representatives see their relationship with doctors as a personal service that they provide. Medical representatives saw the potential of the network to help them touch more doctors with less effort and better information – enhancing their personal connection.
Depending on their specialty, we found that doctors were interested in higher science, less information and lower access cost, evidently in four broad categories of evidence based studies, pharmacokinetics, practical dosage guidelines and new pipeline.
Marketing staff at pharmaceutical companies are concerned about using open social media for marketing to end users, (primarily for regulatory reasons).
This contrasted sharply with intense use of professional networks by doctors for scientific research and rapidly growing adoption of social media by private physicians in order to market their services and educate their patients.
- Pharma selling methods have become less productive, in the UK for example, detailing generates just 10% of new brand market share by the end of their first year.
- Inadequate feedback: The reports reps file after a visit are often too generalized to enable companies to identify which promotional messages work, which need to be changed, and how best to change them.
- Lack of control: Most reps spend much of their time on the road, where it is difficult to keep them fully informed, ensure that they are acting in compliance with regulations, and share best practices.
- Many physicians believe that the information that pharmas provide is biased.
- Inconvenience. The demands on physicians are now greater than ever. Many of them do not have time to see reps during office hours or legally may not (Sweden and Poland for example).
Private social networking for pharma sales – a social model of learning
We consider a particular use case for private social networking where Medical sales representatives and doctors (and possibly patients…) interact using social software such as groups, blogs, instant messaging, file sharing, online presentations and Web conferencing).
Private social networking reinforces and supplements door-to-door marketing that is still the mainstay for many medical sales representatives and face-to-face meetings with decision makers by sustaining the personal touch and providing quality information for a buying decision.
We believe that our use case of a private social network for medical sales reps and doctors is a particular example of a more general social model of learning, where a sales person or doctor or leader influence the behavior of a “cluster” of people that they personally know and meet with on regular basis.
Making private social networking compelling for both doctors and sales representatives
We know that a new online service must be compelling for both doctors and sales representatives in order to succeed.
In order to achieve this objective we emphasize only 3 factors: higher science, less data and a sales channel that is “always open for business”.
- Using a social network with private messaging and content sharing enables a rep to influence a network of doctors with authoritative data. Imagine touching 300 customers / day instead of 5-10.
- Raises quality of science: Content sharing in a private network setting, unencumbered by advertising, enables sales reps to deliver medical science that is personalized to needs of physicians and prescriber influencers in a highly efficient interface that saves them time: evidenced-based studies, pharmacokinetics, practical dosage tables, new pipeline.
- Save travel costs – while the rep is in her car and the doctor in the office, shared content is always available.
- Reduce time spent on email – private messaging focused solely on doctor and sales rep
- Reduce technology. A private social network for pharma sales focuses only medical sales representatives and doctors; it doesn’t make extra investments in information technologies, CRM, sales force integration and data mining. This reduces cost of delivery while providing increased value fro customers and sales reps.
 “Marketing and Social Networking: When Measuring Influence, Quality Connections Top Quantity“, Zsolt Katona, Haas School of Business, University of California, Berkeley -
- Increase patient confidence
- Give you complete privacy
- Increased compliance
- Better outcomes