Technology could increase sales force return on investment

July 1, 2003

Pharmaceutical Representative

Return on investment from physician detailing is declining, but technology could help sales representatives be viewed more as product educators.

Return on investment from physician detailing is declining, but technology could help sales representatives be viewed more as product educators instead of mere promotional agents, an analysis by New York-based Datamonitor found.

The continual rise in the number of representatives targeting high-prescribing physicians is failing to increase returns from detailing investment, Datamonitor said. The ability to maintain the long-term rep-doctor relationship throughout a product's life cycle relies on the delivery of high-quality information, and technology may facilitate this process and maximize the impact of such data, according to the report. "The substantial investment required for the adoption of sales support technologies can only be recouped by aligning these tools with physician prescribing behavior," stated a summary of Datamonitor's analysis. "For example, the retention of more loyal customers is greatly enhanced by providing access to mobile handheld devices, such as personal digital assistants, to both speed up the process of prescribing drugs and minimize prescription errors."

Rep repositioning

Pharmaceutical representatives have a limited amount of time to spend with doctors, but mobile technologies could help them enhance the speed, quality and visual impact of the information they provide, according to the analysis. This, in turn, would increase the value of the information delivered to physicians and better engage and interest them, while establishing the representative as a product educator. "This 'repositioning' of the pharmaceutical sales rep will become increasingly important as physicians experience greater demands from their better-informed patients," Datamonitor's analysis predicted. "The requirement of physicians to provide better-quality treatment information to their patients will lead to reps being seen as a vital part of a 'patient-doctor dialogue' support service."

While this solution might sound simple, Datamonitor warned that the use of technology to help increase representative effectiveness should not be looked at as a sales force-only application.

"The utilization of technology to drive pharmaceutical sales force effectiveness should not be viewed as a 'stand alone' solution to maximizing the promotional impact of a marketed product," said Linda McNamara, healthcare strategy analyst at Datamonitor. "Instead, this strategy is entirely dependent on integrating technology-based solutions across mainstream operations, including R&D." PR

Related Content: