According to recent surveys of healthcare professionals (HCPs), it seems that in-person visits between pharmaceutical sales reps and providers have gone the way of Blockbuster stores and print newspapers. In fact, one study by ZS Associates discovered that almost half of HCPs block rep access in some way.
With such a radical shift in the dynamic between reps and HCPs, pharmaceutical marketers find themselves in a difficult position. On the one hand, so-called "low-see," "no-see," and "hard-to-see" HCPs have become the norm. On the other hand, they remain extremely desirable sales targets. When the doctor's door is closed, but you can't turn your back on the sales potential, what do you do? Rep-triggered email is the modern way reps and HCPs interact.
Elusive HCPs Present Novel Challenges to Pharma Field Staff
Of the approximate 50 percent of today's HCPs who won't see pharmaceutical sales reps at all, 80 percent cite organizational policies as the reason. Some HCPs have ethical concerns about undue influence from in-person meetings with reps, some belong to organizations that prohibit it, and some are just too busy to meet.
This shift has produced a daunting body of low- or no-see HCPs who are still prime targets. In the face of these obstacles, sales reps can't rely on their outmoded, go-to sales tactics. It’s a tall order, but reps must identify new ways to connect—and stay connected—with their targeted HCPs.
How Rep-Triggered Email Campaigns Work
In modern pharmaceutical marketing, multi-channel strategy has become the order of the day. Ordinarily, "multi-channel" has meant all marketing strategies except those that involve sales reps. But why throw the baby out with the bath water? The dynamic between the field staff and HCPs has changed, undoubtedly, but we can't discount the value of a personal relationship. Rep-triggered email campaigns combine the best of both worlds; they work alongside other channels to capitalize on the personal relationships between sales reps and HCPs.
The first step in developing a rep-triggered email is to identify your rep's audience, geography, and product challenges. Then, identify opportunities to extend the conversation between the HCP and rep, beyond the actual sales call or meeting. Think about what communication with the HCP might be valuable before or after rep visits to enhance the quality of the interaction and its outcome.
Train Sales Reps to Use Pre-Approved Email Templates
Now, you're ready to create a series of email templates. Once these templates are approved by medical-legal, they are ready for your reps to use before or after an HCP sales interaction. Here are some template examples:
- Supporting formulary adherence
- Changes in formulary tier status
- Inviting prescribers to meetings (according to research from Pri-Med, 75 percent of low- or no-see doctors will interact with reps at a live educational event)
- Adjusting strategic direction when facing news about a condition/treatment or acknowledging a new indication
Once your reps are trained to use the templates, they can deploy rep-triggered emails as soon as they need them, offering the same personal touch as an in-person call, while circumventing HCP resistance to reps.