Book explores why pharma’s digital sales shot has missed

Mehrnaz Campbell's The Omni Advantage

The pharma industry has rapidly embraced digitalisation as a way to transform its sales engagement, but there has been little to show for the effort.

That is the premise of a new book by pharma industry veteran and award-winning businesswoman Merhnaz Campbell, which identifies the problems that have emerged from the shift towards digital and omnichannel – using multiple online and offline methods to engage with customers – and offers advice on how to get sales efforts back on track.

Historically, pharma companies have relied on fleets of dedicated sales reps and personal interactions with healthcare professionals, with success driven mainly by face-to-face visits, but, with HCPs’ time increasingly stretched thin, that is now less effective.

Change has been happening gradually and has gathered momentum with the enforced shift to remote operations caused by the pandemic, and sales forces are now having to adapt to the new, omnichannel normal, where a majority of HCPs want to keep or increase digital interactions, but are also becoming more demanding about what they need. No longer are they satisfied by simply receiving what sales teams want to push to them.

“The pharma industry […] has lunged towards digital transformations and omnichannel implementations, yet, very little has improved as a result. In fact, it feels as though things have only gotten worse,” writes Campbell in the book’s forward.

“The COVID pandemic has a lot to answer for, and the problems pharma faced as a result of the pandemic have only been compounded by this digital transformation. Many executives and field teams have found themselves lost amidst constant reorganisations, unsure how to get back to the performance levels they had before.”

Campbell’s book, entitled The Omni Advantage: Accelerating the Behavioural Change with Omnichannel in Pharma Sales Engagement, promises a “concise roadmap for commercial, medical, and marketing leaders navigating the pharmaceutical industry’s turbulent times” and aims to “guide professionals on focusing on what truly matters: genuine human connections and the timeless currency of trust.”

The work draws on Campbell’s 37-plus years of experience in UK healthcare, including roles with pharmaceutical giants like GSK, Pfizer, and Takeda, as well as her entrepreneurial journey, which began with the founding of pharma sales and marketing agency Cheemia in 2017.

That was followed by the introduction of a multi-award-winning remote sales engagement training platform, Cheemia ReSET, in 2020, with subsequent launches of companion modules Cheemia ReINSPIRE, designed to help sales managers inspire their sales team to get the best out of Cheemia ReSET, and Cheemia ReADAPT to help teams master omnichannel.

Paul Tunnah, founder of pharmaphorum and chief content officer and managing director of Healthware Group, was a contributor to the book and said: “The Omni Advantage cuts to the core of why, despite all the recent technological advances and digitalisation driven by the pandemic, pharma has not yet reached omnichannel nirvana – and what the industry can do to get there.”

That sentiment was echoed by Koen Janssens, global associate director, field force effectiveness, at Norgine.

“Mehrnaz is perfectly placed to put herself in the shoes of a customer-facing field person and to understand the challenges they encounter when connecting remotely with customers,” said Janssens.

“As a reader, you can ‘feel’ the opportunities and ‘answer’ any challenge you may encounter on your omnichannel journey. I was happy to be a ‘sparring partner’ for Mehrnaz, as she is one of a kind!”

The book is already available to pre-order on Amazon, and a virtual launch event is scheduled to take place on 18th January, from 3:30 to 4:30 pm UK time, which will be streamed live on LinkedIn and feature an exclusive interview with Mehrnaz Campbell and the book’s contributors by multi-award-winning broadcaster, journalist, and comedian Zara Janjua.