COVID-19 has had a tremendous influence on the relationship between healthcare professionals and pharmaceutical sales representatives. Medical sales reps have not been able to visit healthcare professionals in person. Consequently, pharmaceutical sales representatives have lost all opportunities to meet their clients face-to-face, including at the clinics, medical conferences and any previously planned in-person continuing health education sessions. Many of these events have been cancelled or moved to an online platform.
This has resulted in a substantial shift in the way that pharmaceutical companies engage with their clients. Some pharmaceutical companies have responded quickly by maximizing the use of innovative digital marketing programs that add value to their clients. Those who are still trying to figure out how to manage this new situation should consider investing some time in pharma competitive intelligence research to learn what their competitors are doing to engage digitally with healthcare professionals. Pharma competitive intelligence can help you identify the type of program, the spread throughout the country, the timing, the people from the company who will be implementing the program, and more.
If you find yourself asking what new digital marketing programs and sales techniques your pharmaceutical competitors are using to strengthen their relationship with healthcare professionals, table 1 will provide you with some easy to follow steps, competitive intelligence research tips and examples.
Table 1: Pharma competitive intelligence tips and examples
|Step||Competitive Intelligence Research Tips: Make Sure To …||Example|
|1. Formulate a hypothesis for the research to test||Keep the hypothesis simple.||“Our competitors are moving from videos and webinars to incredibly unique and diverse digital selling tools.”|
|2. Research competitor annual reports, articles,blogs and social posts (e.g. MassDevice.com).||Research what the pharmaceutical industry is doing to maintain their relationship with their clients, but also research other industries to learn how they are advancing their digital selling efforts.||Competitors may post about an innovative event that their company is organizing for their HCP clients. Here is an example from the banking industry which could spark some innovation for the pharmaceutical industry: “Building a Banking Sales Program Amid COVID-19 Disruption”|
|3. Contact your internal sources (e.g. Sales, MSLs).||Stick to 4 or 5 Key Intelligence Questions.||What new digital sales tools are competitors incorporating? What challenges are they facing? Which tool in particular are they embracing? Why?|
|4. Reach out to 3rd parties (e.g. HCPs, marketing consultants)||Focus on what they know beyond traditional push digital channels such as headquarters-driven emails and webinars)||What new strategies are pharma companies pursuing to bring the personalization of face-to-face meetings to video-based calls? What are they doing to deliver more valuable content to doctors when they want it and in the format they want it. What tactics are they taking to avoid crowding HCPs with too many messages.|
|5. Contact competitors||Ask similar questions to those posed to your internal and 3rd party sources. This will help verify your findings.||What challenges are you facing in transforming your field force to digital? Besides virtual peer-to-peer sessions and medical webinars, what other digital tools will be added to support your field force? What is your # 1 prerequisite (e.g. engaging, easy to consume) to decide which tool to add? What are you doing to achieve "Closed Loop Marketing”?|
|6. Confirm or reject your hypothesis.||Keep it simple, answer “Yes” or “No”.||Our competitors are indeed moving from videos and webinars to some incredibly unique and diverse digital selling tools.|
Once the pandemic will be over and most of our lives will have returned to normal, it is very unlikely that medical offices and pharmacies will be going back to their pre-COVID model. Patient and HCP relationships will probably not go back to strictly clinic visits, and neither will sales reps and HCP relationships. It is probable that healthcare professionals who are enjoying the new digital relationship with pharmaceutical sales representatives continue to demand this type of relationship or an adaptation of it in the future. This means that the traditional pharmaceutical sales model will change. We just don’t know exactly how yet. Therefore, it is important for pharmaceutical companies to get their competitive intelligence done correctly as it will probably be adopted over the long-term.
If you need assistance from a team with extensive experience in conducting pharma competitive intelligence programs, please contact us. We would be happy to help.