With the proliferation of tablet PCs and off-site interactions, are sales reps able to engender the same kind of personal touch with doctors that both parties consider to be so valuable?

Robert Griffith
Managing director,
Beacon Healthcare Communications

Due to increased practice workflow and managed care requirements, physician and staff face greater administrative and reimbursement challenges than ever before. As physician and practice become more “time-starved,” the sales rep is increasingly challenged to not only identify “quality interaction” with the physician, but also to invest more effort in education and support of the practice staff. Interactive technology can extend the reach of the rep, allowing both to interact when time is available, which reduces the pressure and allows a more focused conversation. The use of technology allows both to retain the interaction and the information. The personal touch “call” still lives—can be, in fact, more lively than ever, re-energized by the interactive media of the 21st century.

Chris Wright
Managing principal, US pharmaceuticals,
ZS Associates

Maintaining a personal touch with physicians is a constant struggle for reps. Interestingly, some of the innovative approaches—such as using tablet PCs—have not helped matters, particularly if applied at the wrong time. Picture the time-squeezed physician running between examination rooms. Pulling out a tablet PC tends to send the doctor off in the opposite direction. The doctor is simply afraid he is going to be pulled into a conversation that will take far too long and this can scare him off. This happens with traditional detail aids, too. The best sales people know when to use these tools…and that is certainly not on every sales visit. Saving these approaches for lunch or sit-down meetings works much better for building a rapport with physicians.

Dan Snyder
West zone director, gastro-intestinal business unit,

Face-to-face interaction has become more challenging in the past 10 years; however, personal touch with physicians can still be accomplished. As the industry searches for creative ways to ensure contact with physicians that are not the standard sales call, these additional points of contact can still be leveraged toward the goal of creating value that a physician will appreciate. With more organizations cutting back on the number of reps, measuring value-added interactions will be paramount to understanding customer needs and strengthening the personal interaction between rep and physician. A sales rep must be conscious of every appropriate opportunity available to build this value regardless of the amount of time or location. Focused discipline on the part of a sales rep can establish this win-win scenario.

Richard Micali
SVP, sales services,
PDI, Inc.

I am a strong believer that technology is a tool to enhance one-on-one relationships with physicians, not replace them. These strong personal working relationships are the key to successfully fulfilling our responsibilities as reps. We need to provide value to the prescriber and their staff by providing them with product, disease state and other important pieces of information. Technology just makes this easier and, when used interactively, enables reps to enhance their overall effectiveness and further solidify their relationships. For example, tablet PCs put a variety of resources at reps’ fingertips, giving them the ability to tailor information to a specific physician.