The statistics don’t lie: 91% of Health Care Professionals (HCPs) want more pharmaceutical companies to participate in eSampling. And, among new doctors, proactive sample requests increase the likelihood of a prescription by 81%.

With numbers like that, it’s safe to assume that eSampling is one of the smartest prescriber-reaching strategies that a pharma company might introduce. But don’t fire your sales force yet—though critically important, eSampling is best used as part of an integrated marketing strategy and sample distribution program.

It’s all about the relationship, and one size doesn’t fit all. While some condemn the sales rep visit as “outdated,” for prescribers who value personal interactions, this is far from true. Prescribers like these—even tech-savvy ones using the latest in mHealth tools—may still prefer to have questions answered in short order, rather than having to sift through information that would be common to any self-service model. Developing and strengthening relationships with providers like these means continuing to leverage a strong sales force capable of gauging physician wants and needs.

For further reading on how to use eSampling during the pharma product launch cycle, see Non-Personal Promotion: A New Era in E-Sampling from our April 2014 issue.

Along the same lines for physicians who find personal visits interruptive or difficult to absorb (or who prefer to think about drug choices and sampling in their own time), unwelcome sales rep visits may weaken the relationship. Remember, the end goal of eSampling is to encourage prescribing in appropriate cases. Achieving that goal involves creating awareness of a drug and its attributes while building goodwill through satisfying interactions. Based on such criteria, eSampling presents a win-win solution for both pharmaceutical companies and prescribers.

In other words, sales force tactics and eSampling tactics are not mutually exclusive. In fact, 74% of surveyed HCPs said that acquiring samples online would not decrease the likelihood of meeting with a pharma company representative (MedManage survey, May 2008). By integrating sales force-driven sampling with eSampling, not only does reach become simultaneously greater and more efficient—the nature of interactions can become more strategic.

Companies that take opportunities to segment prescribers by their preferred styles, and tailor sampling approaches in anticipation of individual effectiveness, stand to extract the most value from eSampling, as well as other future breakthroughs in sampling technologies.

Tom Quinn is the SVP & GM of eSampling at Physicians Interactive.