Greetings. I am writing to you from the year 2018.
I just downloaded a cheese steak. It was virtually delicious! Anywho-
Sadly, the last pharmaceutical sales rep in existence, made her final sales call earlier this afternoon.
Even armed with IVAs, PDAs, and Ph. D’s, the future of direct selling in the pharmaceutical space is looking less robust.
It’s not because direct, personal selling doesn’t work. Quite the contrary.
Personal selling of the non-used-car variety is the most likely avenue to success. Drug reps that can establish trust and provide their clientele with useful information and resources, in addition to moving product have immense value. Contrary to my flip post title, they aren’t to be dismissed so lightly.
However, there’s one major factor that will continue to diminish the impact sales reps have on pharmaceutical marketing.
Like money, we’re usually out of it.
Think about your own life. How much time do you currently have in it to hear elevator pitches from your garbage man, your neighbor, or your kids’ soccer coach?
When is the last time you bought something, other than Girl Scout cookies, from a door-to-door salesperson?
The Fuller Brush Man quit stalking the sidewalks years ago.
And for good reason.
Advertising is swiftly moving from an interruption model to a permission model. The typical sales rep interaction, no matter how courteous, professional and productive, is an interruptive marketing practice — it disrupts the doctor’s daily schedule.
As a society, we no longer watch our TV when NBC, or General Electric, or CNN want us to. Fully customizable, streaming television is here.
We are now consumers in a choice economy. Doctors are no different. They’re overburdened with patients (some by their own ‘choice.’) and paperwork and have little time to hear the hallway pitch. They want to know you’re there, but want to dictate the terms of the relationship.
So let them. Moving from interruption marketing to permission marketing will become a necessity. Reps aren’t going away tomorrow, but they won’t be around forever.
- Get and stay ahead of the curve by exploring “non-personal” selling media. Digital isn’t your only option.
- Re-define scopes that traditionally center around the dreaded sales aid. It’s a brochure — treat it more like one.
- Take a second look at your budget. Are your dollars too concentrated in personal selling materials that may or may not be used or seen?
- Don’t pretend to know everything — ask docs what works best for their needs.
- Build permission around promises — promise to do something and then just doing it — without costly expectations from your audience.
Less time in the docs’ office doesn’t have to mean less time in the docs’ minds, and non-personal selling need not be impersonal, either.