In my previous life I was a pharmaceutical rep visiting doctors and key accounts, selling tablets, taking vaccine orders and other related tasks. Back then reps had to carry around their laptop using a variety of different systems throughout the day including CRM, Order Management, Professional Resource and Promotional Ordering System and Analytics Tools.
Usually I ended up spending almost a day in the office every week catching up with administrative tasks. Along with the laptop, I carried my big bag containing booklets upon booklets of prescribing information and detail aids. I remember thinking back then, isn’t there an easier way and a more streamlined process for the sales organization to operate while out in the field?
Thanks to mobile technology, today there is! Unfortunately, in this highly regulated industry, there are some hurdles to jump over such as legal/regulatory guidance, bureaucratic issues between the sales, marketing and technology organizations, as well as the simple- “fear of the unknown”. Although, with team effort, advocacy and business acumen; these hurdles are being overcome within many healthcare companies. Here are the top three reasons why your field sales force should be mobilized now!
Less desk time and more face time!
How a rep spends their time is everything. There is a fine balance between quality sales calls and quantity. If you aren’t calling on them, your competitors are! In field sales there can be many different resources one uses during a sales call. It can be time consuming searching for the correct one while in front of a doctor, who in fact, is already one step from walking away from you.
Having all your detail aids and CRM data already loaded into an application on your tablet, minimizes the fumbling around time and allows for dynamic relevant content for that specific purchaser/prescriber. Personalization is the key to success in this industry and mobile apps allow for just that! Besides the seamless process of relevant content and engagement your reps will have over the competition, imagine the time savings this allows throughout the day.
I remember spending a majority of my day entering sales calls and dealing with sample, resource ordering on my computer. Time which should have been spent in front of more customers! With mobile applications, these fragmented portals can be integrated and/or simplified, allowing for faster and more efficient ways to close out and move on to the next sales call.
Data is king – improve analytics!
By having all field sales systems synched up, it’s much more efficient for marketing teams to track and recognize trends. Streamlining the collection of sales data on mobile and synching that data with a web interface for the marketing team allows for insights that may be overlooked if the different systems were kept separate. What does this mean? Marketers will be able to see the exact resources utilized with a specific customer and gauge the success of their marketing efforts quickly and effectively. Thus, marketers will be able to adjust their strategies with more relevant data to support. And if you’re a marketer you know that data is king when it comes to increasing your budgets and obtaining approval!
Compliance, Compliance, Compliance
The biggest challenge to mobilizing the field sales teams is the fear of the regulatory environment. These fears are completely warranted given the industry as well as the very gray guidance given for mobile thus far. Regardless, organizations need to start looking at the benefits mobile can bring to the area of compliance in field sales.
With a mobile application housing all the prescribing information and product information dynamically, imagine the risk reduction in a representative showing an expired PI or expired resource to the customer. Compliance and Marketing certainly have more control through a mobile app in terms of information and updates pushed to field sales rather than simply relying on the reps to have the most up to date versions in their bag.
Instead of concentrating on what you shouldn’t and can’t do on mobile, concentrate on how mobile can help minimize your company’s risk. Today there are many mobile solutions that are significantly more secure and reliable than the laptop used to be. Perhaps this will be the stepping stone to garner the support needed to push a mobile initiative through!
At the moment, many pharma companies are in pilot mode when it comes to mobilizing their sales force, which is fantastic, but they still have a long way to go! If mobile is not starting to be fully integrated into your field sales strategy you are falling behind the curve and missing out on opportunities for greater competitive advantage, improved insights and even enhanced compliance practices. Don’t be afraid to take the leap with mobile. Yes the case for new processes within organizations is time consuming and tireless, but it will be worth it in the end.
Now we will see pharma reps spending less time on administration, more time with clients and equipped with relevant and personalized data for each visit while the marketing teams are getting instant feedback from their sales reps. Congratulations former colleagues!
Image courtsey of MSU