What the Argentinian famous singer, Carlos Gardel, claimed that “life is a breath and 20 years is nothing”, it is not the reality for the pharmaceutical industry. In the last two decades, we all have seen a significant change, especially the sales force. From just selling, they have moved to a customer focus marketing and relationship management. Creating educational campaigns for patients and customized messages to healthcare professionals is what the healthcare industry is focusing on.
Pharmaceutical companies are creating personalized services that engage customers, build loyalty, and results are being measured in real time. Salesforces have been cut and the Internet exploded with digital communications. We are now anticipating customer needs and the patients are more involved in the decisions regarding their health. Most of the companies are aligning around improving the service delivered to patients. From a salesforce-centric, we have moved to a patient-centric approach.
The days of the beepers, heavy phones, BlackBerry, lots of samples in the trunk, tons of signature forms, gimmicks, “feature/benefit selling” and plenty of time with a physician are all part of the past. Being with up to 6 representatives from different companies waiting to see the doctor in the same room was a normal day event.
Many will agree that visits were a benefit for everyone, the physician, and the patient. Doctors didn’t have the time on their own to research medications and be up-to-date. The presence of the representative was necessary. The dedication and the knowledge of these professionals made a difference in patient lives.
But the present, is another story, technology, managed care, government regulations, and more changes… Success in the pharmaceutical marketplace is no longer determined by physicians. The pharmaceutical industry has moved to its marketing focus from products to patients. The approach is to patient engagement, patient education, and communication.
Was the sales force essential for the success of the industry and a benefit for the patients? Of course! Is it now? At the end of the day, you must move with the flow, adapt and succeed.
Cecily Hernández, Business Development Executive of PharMaHealth Group in Weston, FL