Two Views From Inside The Exhibition Booth

No longer just a meet-and-greet venue, the exhibition booth at healthcare conventions has been technologically transformed into an effective and dynamic selling channel. Two pharma marketing executives tell how their companies made the transition
Sep 03, 2009
By Pharmaceutical Executive Editors

The exhibit booth has taken on new marketing importance in an age of diminishing sales forces and increasingly restricted access to physicians.

Two pharma executives, Erin O'Brien, Pfizer's senior manager of global congresses and conventions, and Julie Conran, Abbott's associate manager of convention marketing, explained their companies' strategies in a joint presentation this summer at the HCEA annual conference in Tampa, Fla.

"The average length of interaction with physicians at the booth can be up to eight minutes," said Conran. "Before, the only way we could report on the time our sales force spent with physicians was by watching booth traffic, using a survey, and asking the sales team to provide an estimate.

"Now, we have the ability to tell, down to the second, how long the sales rep spends with each physician, and we have the information immediately. We also use this information to coach the reps in real-time so they can easily navigate to the data that will be of most interest to the physician. This has significantly improved booth outcomes."

Technology also captures accurate data on customers at the exhibit booths.

"With our old program, we couldn't cross-reference physicians whose convention registration data may have been just a little different than that in our database. So, if the physician was not matched properly, he or she fell under the wire, and they very well might have had patients that would have benefited from Abbott's medications."

Now with one swipe of the registration badge, Abbott's new program (developed by OneWorld, Inc.) tells if the physician is on their call plan—an important piece of information. An interactive discussion with a sales rep follows. The physician opts in to share self-reported information, which in turn informs Abbott about the frequency of prescribing by the physician in specific therapeutic areas. This allows the rep to speak specifically to the healthcare professional's interest while optimizing the time spent educating the doctor about the company's treatments and resources. The sales rep also will relay any informational requests by the physician to various departments for fulfillment, including field sales reps and other marketing channels.

"We're able to achieve a 90 percent target match rate based on our vendor's database and their expertise in cross-referencing the data," said Conran.

Program outcomes showed a 12 percent increase in TRx (total prescriptions) and a 50 percent increase in NRx (new prescriptions) by physicians who participated in discussions with Abbott sales representatives at the exhibit booth.

"We can no longer be viewed as just a meet-and-greet vehicle for the company," said Conran. "We are adding patient value through effective communications with our customers, and that value has been documented."

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