Quality over quantity. Busy oncologists are increasingly limiting how many pharmaceutical sales reps they see, according to the Spring 2012 AccessMonitor report. The oncology field has almost twice as many new drugs in development as any other specialty, but 61% of oncologists place moderate-to-severe restrictions on sales-rep visits. Only 47% of cardiologists and 38% of primary care physicians restrict rep access to the same degree.
Since many oncologists limit the number of times they see any single rep, many companies are tempted to dust off a 1990s strategy, beef up their sales forces and send several different reps to promote one drug.
In place of a tactic likely to overwhelm prescribers, the following steps can equip sales teams to work around limited access, bring value to oncologists and increase sales.
First, deliver an exceptional customer experience. Develop services tailored to each oncologist's needs. Leading companies are identifying programs for reimbursement support or patient education and experimenting with channels that let physicians access these resources.
Second, place sales reps in the middle of that delivery to ensure a personal touch. Our studies show physicians are more likely to open e-mails sent by individual reps than those sent by the head office.
Finally, marketers should prepare for the evolution of the sales model from selling to individual practices, to selling to institutions. with organized pathways and increased centralized decision making.
As the industry trends toward consolidation, those who practice an insightful, value-add marketing paradigm will enjoy a competitive advantage.
Ganesh Vedarajan is the principal and leader of the oncology/specialty therapeutics practice at global consulting firm ZS Associates.