How Advanced Technology Transforms Pharma Sales Call Planning
Brian Fitzgerald | December 16, 2021
The pharmaceutical industry is nothing like what it used to be 20 years ago. Back then, most doctors welcomed industry representatives with their doors wide open. Physicians were willing to engage in conversations and were ready to learn new information about the medications the reps were there to talk about.
Today, however, access to providers is a real challenge.
In less than a decade, the number of no-see physicians has increased by 50%1. Only about 44% of physicians still engage with representatives, and this figure is even more depressing when it comes to accessing specialists.
Evidently, in part due to an increasingly restrictive regulatory environment, the industry has a much more difficult time getting in front of its customers. Furthermore, physicians are under tremendous pressure to see more patients, leaving them with little to no time for activities that aren’t directly related to patient care.
So, why focus on pharma sales call planning?
These trends, along with several others, have forced pharma to re-evaluate its past sales strategies. Only a fraction of physicians still engage with industry, and those who still do, spend less time with reps. With the average duration of a pharmaceutical sales call hovering around 3 minutes2, time spent in front of customers has become an extremely scarce commodity.
For ongoing success, you must ensure that your sales force is not only in front of the right customers at the right times, but also that they are well-prepared to maximize the opportunity each customer interaction represents.
What Are Pharma Sales Call Planning & Pre-Call Planning?
Pharmaceutical call planning is one of the most important fundamentals of pharma selling. It’s one of the key performance indicators for measuring sales force effectiveness. Many people use the terms sales call planning and pre-call planning interchangeably.
To illustrate the significance of pre-call planning, here’s a sports example. Top athletes always prepare for their game. They understand how crucial it is to put in the hard work before showing up for a game. For pharma sales reps, the sales call is the game. Yet, most reps arrive unprepared, mostly due to poor planning and preparation, as if pre-call planning was some add-on, optional activity with little to no potential to influence the outcome of the call.
However, effective pre-call planning is one of the most - if not the most - critical components of a sales call. Planning for calls before walking into a doctor’s office is a vital first step towards building successful sales calls.
Traditional Methods For Managing Pharma Sales Call Planning
The old way of pre-call planning involves the use of pre-call planning templates. Complicated templates have driven many salespeople away from the sales call planning process. One of the issues often cited by reps is that these templates do not deliver the right value.
In spite of your best intentions, if your pre-call planning templates are either too difficult to complete or asking the wrong questions, they will rarely be used by your reps. Understandably, templates that require reps to pull information from multiple data sets are appreciated either.
For pre-call planning tools to be useful to pharma reps, they should meet all of the following criteria:
- The tool must produce a list of prescribers sorted based on the potential they represent.
- Quick access to individual customer profiles.
- Be clear on what key messages and critical materials should be shared with each customer.
- Quick and easy access to any training materials or tips.
How Technology Improves Pharma Sales Call Planning
In today’s hyper-competitive business climate, sales management must provide its sales force with complete pre-call planning solutions, instead of time and labor-intensive templates that most reps will never use. Expecting your reps to deliver results is only reasonable if they have what’s needed to thrive in the new business environment. That’s where technology comes in, as it has the power to make the entire process of sales and pre-call planning much more effective and effortless.
1.Data Analytics and Field Reporting
Pharma analytics and data management solutions can enhance pharma sales call planning by giving your reps an accurate snapshot of their territory before they ever make a call. To enable your reps to walk into every office fully prepared with confidence, a comprehensive dashboard can be used that features:
- Managed care details
- Competitive insights
- Current marketing initiatives
- Customer preferences
Sales teams need easy and instant access to information such as physician and healthcare system data, performance metrics and data insights, all in one place, streamlined to make their jobs easier and allow them to drive performance.
2 . Artificial Intelligence (AI) Solutions
Artificial intelligence (AI) technologies can help your sales teams increase both productivity and customer satisfaction. An AI-based solution serves as a virtual sales assistant, making relevant content recommendations that guide your reps and their customer down the path to a sale. AI’s ability to recommend specific sales materials and content to present to physicians is incredibly valuable, as reps don’t have to spend time looking for and gathering these materials, making their pre-call planning more efficient.
3 . Mobile Devices
Technology can save your reps valuable time by automatically logging calls with physicians, nurses, pharmacists, and other key healthcare providers into CRM systems. Through the use of mobile devices connected to back-end systems, your reps can complete these entries while in the field and place orders in real-time.
With enhanced communication, not only can sales reps conversate with their managers at ease, but important files and information can also be exchanged efficiently and in real-time for instant use. Decisions need to be made very quickly especially when planning for a sales call. For example, before a rep walks into the sales call he/she may miss out on new information with traditional methods.
However, with mobile devices, any new updates can be received on the spot and looked at right before walking into the office.
Clearly, technology is no longer a luxury, but rather a necessity in pharmaceutical sales call planning. The industry is becoming less forgiving to inefficiencies, and sales management must put their reps in the best possible position to perform at a high level. Smart technological solutions can help improve the sales call planning operations so that your reps can focus on what they do best, which is selling.
Are you ready to improve your sales call planning process with the help of advanced technology? Contact us HERE, and we will show you how you can take your sales call planning to the next level.