Pharmaceutical Marketing Excellence and Sales Force Effectiveness in Europe



Pharma IQ
04/14/2011

Arguably there has never been a more important time for the pharmaceutical industry to review its sales and pharma marketing practices, as the sector faces the patent cliff and more generics are set to enter the market.

For companies which get it right, the benefits of a strong marketing strategy speak for themselves, not just in terms of winning contracts and forging industry partnerships, but also in public perceptions.

Pharma marketing in the digital age

The internet and social media is the big story in the marketing industry at the moment, but with the heavy regulation surrounding the pharmaceutical sector it would be understandable if companies thought it held little promise for them.

Eager to demonstrate this is not the case is Karen Winterhalter, former EMEA managing director of healthcare at Burson Marsteller, who has been appointed by the British government to educate UK pharmaceutical companies on how they can take advantage of digital innovations in marketing and communication.

"In the highly regulated pharmaceutical environment that has traditionally been closed, controlled and selective in its communication, the use of social media may seem an impossibility.

"While many pharma companies have emb­raced digital comms in the sales environment, few have taken advantage of social media and the opportunities they offer to brands, corporate reputation and internal comms," Winterhalter said.

She added it is imperative pharmaceutical companies step away from the "traditional tell-sell" approach, toward "an open, random and support" methodology.

Using new technology in the field

New technology is also being development to provide a tool for sales agents out in the field to boost customer relationship management (CRM).

January of this year saw Veeva systems release its iRep app, which it described as "the pharmaceutical industry’s first complete CRM and closed loop marketing (CLM) solution built exclusively for the iPad."

The company claimed iPads are increasing being used by pharmaceutical reps out in the field and over the next few months five major US and Europe-based firms are to hand out the tablets with iRep installed to their agents.

Matt Wallach, chief strategy officer at Veeva Systems, said: "Reps are under pressure to represent more products against more competition while physicians give them less face time to do so. iRep allows them to be more efficient, more effective, and more connected.

Cegedim Relationship Management also announced recently it has integrated its Roambianalytics tool for the life sciences industry with mobile technology to provide agents with up-do-date information on CRM or other business information on their iPhone or iPad.

It claims the system will help companies which have limited time with stakeholders to access the most important information in both a timely and effective manner, which in turn will help them form better relationships.

The use of new technology and digital marketing is still a relatively new frontier for the pharmaceutical industry and one which will need to be navigated carefully due to the strict regulations governing the sector

However, it's clear from the steps being taken by developers, and indeed in some cases governments, that it is one which is expected to grow in importance within the coming years.