Author: Darshan Parekh

Posted On May 08, 2020   |   5 Mins Read

In my previous blog, I touched upon the impact of coronavirus pandemic on life sciences training. Within the life sciences ecosystem, the pharmaceutical industry is facing unique challenges as its popular in-person sales model has almost become non-existent. In-person meetings had their own advantage as the sales reps could convey the desired message more efficiently and connect better with physicians. But now, with the changed sales dynamics, there is a chance that sales reps will have lesser influence over physicians, which can eventually impact business. In order to minimize this impact and ensure business continuity, pharmaceutical sales teams are now switching to digital engagements, advanced analytics, and virtual training.  Sales reps are getting trained on digital channels via micro-learning videos, simulations, and scenario-based role plays. Their objective is not only to be effective on virtual sales calls but to go an extra mile in building deeper bonds with physicians.

Tips for Online Pharmaceutical Sales

Let us look at some approaches that a sales rep can use, to sell to physicians in a virtual environment:

  1. Playing a Consultative Role – It is important to understand the challenges that physicians might be facing in the current situation and suggest potential solutions. For e.g. a physician may be struggling to determine how to distinguish patients with existing chronic diseases from the ones who are actually affected by coronavirus. In such a case, the sales rep could suggest a solution like an AI powered chatbot, which can help to determine the actual health issue based on the patient response and in-turn schedule appointments.
  2. Personalizing Content – In the current times, it is normal for physicians to get flooded with generic solutions to their problems which could get too overwhelming. Sales reps should use this opportunity to work closely with their marketing team to identify new channels and draw strategies to cater to behavior and preference of each customer. Nudging physicians with personalized content should help to create a positive impression and get an edge over competitors.
  3. Supporting Patients – Sales reps can instill trust and confidence in their key customers by delivering medicines to home-bound patients and ensuring that supplies are not disrupted for specialty medications for patients. Such acts are generally valued and appreciated by customers, which eventually helps the sales rep – physician relationship.
  4. Sharpening Skills – Sales reps should get trained on delivering effective sales pitches virtually, product training, role plays, and more. Knowledge on market, competitors, innovative technologies, and customer pain points will help engage physicians better.
  5. Keeping Customers Engaged – “Keep your customers engaged” seems to be mantra for success in these tough times. Pharmaceutical sales reps must leverage new technologies and try innovative ways to keep their customers engaged as part of their long-term strategy.  Although some companies have launched ‘return-to-work’ policies, sales reps should still be ready and armed to sell virtually and build informal relationship with physicians. This would not only add value to the current engagement but also ensure  business continuity beyond COVID- 19.

Are you from the pharmaceutical industry? What are some challenges you have been facing in virtual selling? Write to me at to initiate a discussion.