Forget about distributing medical literature or samples. If sales reps want to engage physicians, they need to develop personal relationships, according to a new survey that measured the effectiveness of sales forces from five drugmakers that sell antipsychotics - Pfizer, Lilly, AstraZeneca, Bristol-Myers Squibb and Johnson & Johnson. How personal? Well, that's not specified, but use your imagination.
The study identified four segments of physicians: Fully Engaged, Engaged, On The Fence and Disengaged, according to PeopleMetrics Rx. Overall, 31 percent of physicians were Fully Engaged or Engaged, while the largest proportion of physicians - 53 percent - were On The Fence.
And so, the firm advises pharma that "sales representatives must develop personal relationships with their physicians to achieve the highest levels of engagement. In fact, emotional components such as friendship with the reps are the strongest indicators of Fully Engaged physicians. In turn, this has a positive impact on the duration and frequency of meetings and physician prescribing patterns."
"Our findings will be important for sales forces in pharmaceutical companies," Gary White, the firms' executive vp, says in a statement. "Measuring the emotional connection sales reps develop with their physicians is not typically monitored in standard sales force effectiveness research....yet we find that this emotional dimension is key in understanding physicians' perceptions toward their reps and the pharmaceutical company as a whole."
So go ahead, tell those reps to 'hug a doc today.' Put the saying on a bumpersticker for the fleet of rental cars used by the reps. And throw those studies - whatever their source of funding - in the wastebasket. Just make sure the rep looks like the kind of person a doc would want get to know better.
Hat tip to GoozNews