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Post-Pandemic Sales: Will the Digital Switch Stay Flipped?

Many believe Covid-19 has forever changed ways of working. For life sciences, work-from-home policies have only accelerated the industry’s trajectory toward alternative channels fueled by increasing restrictions at doctors’ offices and hospitals. The question is, will the pandemic flip the switch to digital permanently?

Studies show physician receptivity to digital sales tools and virtual meetings is high – with more time spent interacting with reps than ever before. Instead of the quick hallway call, representatives now have the chance to interact with a healthcare provider (HCP) one-on-one for several minutes, maybe even 8-10, without interruptions. This unforeseen uptick has proven to be beneficial if the representative knows how to use the time well and conduct effective virtual meetings. But what happens when doctors start seeing patients again?

Plan for It Now
In this unprecedented moment in time, if we analyze information from the past, it may allow us to prosper moving forward. Game theory helps us predict how HCP’s will react when things snap back in an unfavorable way. It helps in anticipating doctors’ responses now and when patients return to their offices. To maintain access into the future (when time is limited), the groundwork needs to be set immediately.

Let’s examine what we know now. HCPs need and appreciate guidance on where and how to find information – the companies that make it easiest for them to do so will gain a competitive advantage. At this moment, reps have access, albeit virtually. They have the HCP’s attention without distractions. If this time is utilized well, if the conversations are engaging, thought-provoking and useful, the HCP will be predisposed and receptive to continued communication.

Ready the Roadmap
In the new norm, where HCP comfort level and adoption of alternative communication accelerates, a roadmap will need to be requested to ensure access continues. This request for a sequence of touchpoints can only succeed if the HCP perceives value in these interactions, and that they are reasonable and timely. The plan needs to be well-thought-out.

It is incumbent upon the representative and their manager to develop a continuum that includes a combination of face-to-face, virtual, phone and email follow-up requests. Consequently, at the end of every interaction with the HCP, that plan must be revealed. The representative should tell the HCP the suggested methods of communication coupled with an associated time frame.

For example: HCP, let’s schedule a virtual call in two weeks, followed by a phone conversation a week later with your office manager. This projection of a series of touch points will provide immediate feedback regarding the HCP’s receptivity and proclivity toward moving your relationship forward. It will also be an indicator of the HCP’s interest in continuing to engage via digital channels in the future.

In a sense, you are now playing chess with the HCP, not potentially what we might have done in the past, which was playing checkers.

Charles Brennan is president of Brennan Sales Institute. Email Charles at

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