Sales Management: The Wonders of Wireless

January 1, 2006

Pharmaceutical Executive

Pharmaceutical Executive, Pharmaceutical Executive-01-01-2006, Volume 0, Issue 0

At least five of the world's top pharma companies have specified, tested, or deployed large-scale Wi-Fi programs.

Sales reps do not exploit one of their greatest assets: downtime. From postponed meetings and delayed flights to unpredictable traffic and hours spent waiting in doctors' offices, reps lose valuable time. Erratic travel schedules often dictate when and where they can work. Such uncontrollable variables hamper their productivity and reduce their chances of meeting sales quotas on time. But sometimes, even when they are far from their home base, reps can still perform essential parts of their jobs, which include checking work e-mail, downloading product and pricing information and presentations, and accessing medical practice information. Most reps have the right equipment to be productive—namely laptops and PDAs—but they often lack one essential sales tool: 24/7 connectivity to the Internet.

Peter Thompson

According to industry analysts, reps could recover at least 30 minutes of each day if they had access to a high-speed wireless Internet connection. Wi-Fi (Wireless Fidelity), and other similar technologies, enable users to connect to the Internet anytime and from almost anywhere. Wi-Fi "hotspots," or locations where Wi-Fi enabled devices can send and receive data wirelessly over the Internet, can be found everywhere from airport VIP lounges to hotels to coffee shops to unlikely locales, such as EZ Lube Service Centers. Offering a fast and consistent connection, wireless connectivity can transform downtime into prime sales time.

A Competitive Advantage

Mobile Internet access also gives pharma companies a powerful competitive advantage. Although many companies don't speak publicly about their Wi-Fi hotspot programs, many have implemented mobile communications strategies. At least five of the world's top ten pharmaceutical companies have specified, tested, or deployed large-scale programs for Wi-Fi connectivity. Because reps joust daily with a staggering number of competitors for only a few minutes of face-to-face detailing with doctors, they need tools that can help them make the most of every minute. Reps can gain a competitive edge with Wi-Fi hotspot Internet access.

Risky "Free" Hotspots

Use downtime better, drive more sales

Just a few things to do on downtime:

  • Make another sales call

  • Answer e-mail

  • Download a new presentation with last-minute changes for a meeting that starts in an hour

  • Download new sales literature and other files that are too big to handle on a handheld device

  • Access medical practice information

  • Update the company's SFA or CRM system while the information is fresh

  • Complete an online training module.

Deploy tools to speed the sales process With faster communication throughout the day, mobile reps can accelerate sales follow-up and shorten the sales cycle. They can e-mail sample requests, medical information requests, and rep-supply orders, or request an immediate sales follow-up contact. They can also check product pricing, inventory, shipping and sales data. When they can't attend a meeting in person, they can easily jump online for an audio-visual conference or briefing, which generally requires a fast connection to operate smoothly.

Adopt Wi-Fi for the whole enterprise Adopting new communications technology can be challenging because many enterprise concerns must be addressed—not just the sales value.

Increase cost efficiency Some reps have already recognized the value of Wi-Fi for sales efficiency. They have subscribed to Wi-Fi service on their own, running the cost through their company expense account. To give managers better oversight and control over the cost of wireless broadband access, companies can opt for a corporate subscription. The cost-effectiveness of the Wi-Fi hotspot network will depend upon the carrier a company selects and the size of the mobile work force. But the more reps a company can enroll, the lower the cost of corporate subscriptions.

Doing the ROI math If mobile professionals can recover 30 minutes of downtime every day through reliable Wi-Fi access, a 100-rep sales force can gain back thouands of hours of productivity:

Future Innovations

Wi-Fi technology will only get more sophisticated. Laptops will continue to be shipped "Wi-Fi ready," but the most exciting growth is happening with new devices, such as converged handsets and PDA-like units that offer voice service along with several types of wireless data access, including Wi-Fi. As Wi-Fi continues to grow and more companies adopt the technology, networks will need to evolve and expand to meet this demand. Beyond new devices and enhanced network coverage, the technology involved will become easier to use. Soon, Wi-Fi's ability to increase productivity and bring people together will make sales downtime a valuable asset.

Accounts ZUMAS and the LORENZ Life Sciences Group will partner to provide document submission and compliance solutions. Medsn and Indegene will partner to improve medical education, marketing, and sales management services in the United States and Asia. Aptuit completed its purchase of Quintiles' early development and packaging business units and Almedicia International.

Caren Leventhal

People Jeff Bairstow joined Dendrite International as executive vice president and chief financial officer. Graham Bunn was hired as vice president of strategic alliances at Medidata Solutions. Charles T. Saladarini resigned as CEO of PDI. Larry Ellberger will take his place as interim CEO. Joseph Ripp joined Dendrite International as president and chief operating officer. Paul Zaffaroni, who formerly had both titles, retired. Paul A. McLeod joined the board of directors at MED3000. Judith Hagan was named vice president of sales and marketing at AuGenix, a division of Phoenix Group Holdings. Caren Leventhal was named vice president of human resources and recruiting. Bench International selected Janet Foulkes as vice president. Aptuit announced a new global management team: Michael J. Baltezor as president of pharmaceutical sciences, Scott Houlton as president of clinical packaging and logistics, Andrew Penman as president of preclinical technologies, and Robert Misher as vice president of sales. Min Yu joined ScienceFirst as a medical marketing manager. Glenn C. Van Deusen joined Parexel International as corporate vice president and general manager of medical marketing services.

Awards Aegate won the 2005 Frost & Sullivan Award for Entrepreneurial Company. Informa Training Partners was certified as a woman-owned business by the Women Business Enterprise National Council. Integrated Project Management Co. recieved the Better Business Bureau's Torch Award for Marketplace Ethics. It was one of four companies nationally to recieve this honor.

Peter Thompson is director of marketing for T-Mobile HotSpot. He can be reached at Peter.Thompson@tmobile.com

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