In particular, several companies have adopted tablet PCs, stylus-based, flip-screen laptops that can be synched with enterprise sales force automation (SFA) solutions. By using the computer and closed-loop marketing software, reps can leverage physician marketing information from the call database, enabling them to deliver personalized details with engaging digital content. Tablets also allow information to flow from healthcare professionals to reps: During details, they can collect and analyze practice patterns and brand perception, allowing brand teams to better and more quickly understand what physicians are thinking.
More than 10,000 tablet PCs have already been deployed to pharma sales reps at Pfizer, AstraZeneca, and GlaxoSmith Kline, among other companies, and that number is expected to double by the end of 2006, according to Proscape Technologies. Indeed, instead of "carrying the bag," the modern rep is "carrying the tablet."
To that end, companies need to ensure they are developing deployment strategies that cause minimum disruption in the sales process and properly equip reps with the information they need to most effectively use this new tool.
Deployment Starts Here The following tips are applicable for managers whose employees are using tablet computers or those who are considering their use.
Optimize rollout strategies Companies should conduct a pilot rollout in one geographic region before rolling tablets out on a national level. During this pilot, management should be measuring lifts in sales, the time reps spend with physicians, the number of detail messages reps relate per call, and the overall feedback from each rep.
Companies should also start by targeting one or two segments, such as "loyalists" and "nonbelievers," rather than going after every demographic. This allows reps to build familiarity with the technology and create some benchmarks around key measures, such as average time spent with physicians.
Maximizing the full potential of the tablet PC requires a larger effort, with full SFA system integration and developing personalized message flow for multiple segments of physicians. The cost of development, tracking, and training can escalate considerably in this scenario, but the quality of the physician interaction is also greatly increased. Most companies find a positive impact on ROI, and that the increased spend is well worth it.