|Remote selling is now second nature in Pharma marketing, with those doing it well seeing significant sales growth, and cost reduction, benefits.
Covid-19 realities saw remote, or virtual selling, forced upon the industry when sales teams were radically reduced. Overnight, the industry switched from face-to-face to virtual selling. There was no option. Live events – another key area of networking – were also put on hold.
Many thought this switch would be temporary. Now, the reality is clear: remote or virtual selling can be a highly effective, cost-efficient permanent option to the ‘live’ ways of old.
The keys to success are to follow proven remote selling principles. By doing so, pharma marketers can leverage digital channels to maximise benefit.
Remote & Virtual Selling
As you all know, virtual selling encompasses digital changes to the sales channel. It’s all about ‘inside sales’, where you sell without leaving the office.
Actions may include selling via social networks (such as LinkedIn), emails, EDMs, presenting materials during a virtual meeting, or enabling a healthcare professional to receive materials and complete a self-directed presentation. It can also include education and marketing support in the form of videos, interactive visual content, webinars and live Q&A sessions conducted virtually.
The main advantages of virtual selling include more flexibility with appointment times, time saved not commuting to see healthcare professionals, and being able to capture more data from the interaction than in a face-to-face meeting.
Support materials can be delivered one-to-many, and companies can track areas of most interest to clients.
The feedback from healthcare professionals, while mixed, has been largely positive. And, done well, virtual selling can be more cost-effective than traditional methods.
Remote selling is not without its challenges. Relationships are still central to effective education and sales. The big difference now is that those relationships most often need to be built through virtual channels.
The RAIN Group Centre for Sales Research’s May 2020 global study identified the top five virtual selling challenges to be:
> Gaining a buyer’s attention and keeping them engaged virtually
> Changing a buyer’s point of view about what’s possible or how to solve a problem
> Developing relationships with buyers virtually
> Connecting with buyers and building rapport
> Overcoming objections and dealing with resistance
Clarify The Healthcare Professional Customer Need
Selling is not just about delivering material and being in the same space with someone – whether that’s virtual or in person.
It starts with understanding your customer’s needs. Using research, conversations, anecdotal feedback and experience to be absolutely clear on what your target healthcare professional audience most wants from you and your product. If your product provides a viable solution to your buyer’s or referrers problem, then you have an environment
to sell in.
Central to improving virtual selling success is finding out what healthcare professionals need and value most from the rep.
Key To Effectiveness – Balancing Science with Emotion
To convert a sale, your communication needs to be a carefully crafted combination of rational and emotional communication. The best pharma sales reps impart the science, but deliver their ‘sell’ using emotion.
90% of our decision making is based on emotion. 10% is based on logic. That’s why a careful blend of science and emotion is critical to selling – and even more critical to virtual selling.
The best way to connect with a human, persuasively, is through storytelling.
Once we know the customer’s biggest need of us and our product, we can then create the most powerful virtual tools and storytelling to deliver persuasive education and sales messages.
Remote Selling ‘Must Do’s’
There are four essential steps then to implementing effective remote and digital selling campaigns.
1. Optimize your online sales funnel
Be clear on the entire sales journey of your customer, from first hearing of the brand, to the purchase or recommendation decision and action. Moving your customer through this funnel involves multiple steps. The key is keeping them ‘engaged’, through powerful, captivating, relevant storytelling.
2. Create content for the entire sales funnel
The right content makes or breaks a sales process. Healthcare professionals seek actionable information about your brand that can help them serve their patients better. High quality content needs to tell this story, with emotion, and with science.
3. Utilise data and analytics
Constantly use the data available to evaluate the effectiveness of your communications and sales process. Be quick to recalibrate or amend materials, messages, channels and frequency.
4. Upskill your virtual sales team
More so than ever before, virtual sales teams need careful and thorough preparation on messaging, objection handling, virtual selling techniques, and in creating connections via video calls. Don’t short-change preparing your sales teams better than ever before.
Best of Both Worlds
The best ‘future-fit’ sales teams in pharma marketing will develop a hybrid selling strategy, encompassing the best of both physical and virtual methods.
The role of the rep is likely to continue to change as we learn more about what virtual selling can do.
What is already abundantly clear is the ability to enhance the physical sales experience with remote virtual and digital tools….so long as the balance of science with emotion