Alternative Media: The Site That Could - Pharmaceutical Executive


Alternative Media: The Site That Could
How VaccineShoppe integrated sales, marketing, and technology.

Pharmaceutical Executive

Integrating Old and New When launched, sales reps and call center operators feared the site would make their role obsolete. But it didn't because, when establishing Sanofi Pasteur also pursued a parallel transformation initiative in the sales force and call centers to optimize sales.

"VaccineShoppe was not designed to be the all-encompassing customer relationship channel," D'Amico reflects. "It was meant to be another capability in our toolbox—a channel to better optimize our entire sales function."

The company worked to evolve the traditional vaccine sales role, which centered on product detailing and order-taking, into a pure product-advocate role. As sales reps realized the value-added services and medical-related content offered, it was no longer viewed as a threat but instead as a tool to help gain access to physicians and office managers. As in bound and purely transactional calls decreased due to customer channel switch to the web, call center reps focused more time on value-added activities such as expanding orders and enhancing service to customers.

Shaping Customer Behavior has also reshaped activities within the medical practices of the company's customers.

"From the onset, we recognized that we needed to make VaccineShoppe an ingrained habit with our customer base," D'Amico says.

In the site's early days, Sanofi Pasteur launched a registration drive to get customers to switch from traditional sales channels to the Web site for their ordering needs. It was conducted with the help of the sales force—and encouraged through a contest that rewarded penetration rates and repeat usage—which used office visits to promote the site and walk healthcare professionals through the registration and ordering processes.

Later, to ensure the site's ease of use and value, the company created the e-Council—a national "beta" group of customers willing to serve as advisors. The e-Council continues to teleconference once per month to provide feedback to the development team on the site's newest innovations.

Finally, to help customers overcome potential technological hurdles or to help first-time users navigate the site, the company launched Personal ShoppeService, which offers customers a service rep's assistance within two minutes of receiving a help request.

Success enhanced Sanofi Pasteur's approach to its business. Before the launch, for example, company call centers were inundated with flu vaccine pre-book and confirmation calls on the eve of each flu season. This periodic stress entailed hundreds of incremental man hours while leaving customers stranded on hold lines. But after the launch—even when the company's call center was flooded with 70,000 phone calls a day during the recent flu vaccine crisis that left Sanofi Pasteur the only injectable vaccine producer in the market—the site was able to act as a spillover channel that could also provide customers with CDC news flashes and inventory updates.

The site has evolved from a mere project to a component of every sales and communications strategy at Sanofi Pasteur. Tailored versions of VaccineShoppe have been rolled out to several international markets, and the company is investigating the business model for implementation in South American and Asia-Pacific markets.

Jamie Picone
Launches Duravest Inc. launched a new Web site, which includes an Internet presence for its subsidiary, Estracure Inc. Mental Health Connections selected Genelex Corp. as the exclusive distributor of its GeneMedRx software program. Interlink Healthcare Communications created a multimedia department.


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