What Doctors Really Think About Reps

Dec 17, 2008
By Pharmaceutical Executive Editors

Pharma sales reps should pay heed—it might not be as hard to see a physician as it seems. According to a new report by SDI, 68 percent of the more than 5,923 doctors interviewed said that they stopped to talk to every rep that called on them in the last four weeks, and 67 percent said that they were satisfied with the rep-based promotion.

SDI, last week, unveiled the results of its report, Salesforce Effectiveness 2008: The Physician Prospective, an in-depth view of what doctors think are the best sales tactics being used by the pharmaceutical industry.

Digital Potential
A small area getting a lot of attention in recent years is e-detailing. Reaching physicians by some alternative means, be it video or email, is a popular trend as pharma companies big and small scale back the size of their sales forces.

“We’ve heard from several of our clients that they are looking to move in that direction,” said Jason Fox, associate director for syndicated analytics at SDI. “Some physicians prefer electronic-based promotions because of the convenience. On the pharma side, we know that companies are looking to it because it is cost effective. They will never get rid of rep-based, face-to-face promotion, but if they can add e-detailing it is an option for them.”

According to the report, 38 percent of doctors consider online detailing more effective than sales calls, and 34 percent said that it was as good as one-on-one visits. However, 48 percent feel that E-detailing is not as effective as meetings or events.

“E-detailing represents only two to three percent of pharma promotions, but it is growing,” Fox said. “Some companies are still skeptical, but we’ve seen companies like Merck really embrace it.”

What Not To Do
So what doesn’t work? Conference calls, planned contact in a hospital setting, and personal letters do not seem to be a popular method of contact. And if pharma companies are going to spend time and money sending reps to meet with doctors, they should avoid disparaging the competition as part of the pitch. Half of the specialty groups interviewed said that they weren’t keen on having those discussions.

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