Rethinking rep tools: best practices for creating a digital detailing plan
Leigh Householder and Sean Cowan
2011 may be remembered as the Year of the Apple in health care. Almost 1 in 3 physicians brought an iPad into the practice.1 The app stores offered 10,000 health and wellness apps. And, pharma and biotech leaders adopted the iPad in amazing numbers.2
Those tools have begun to change both healthcare and self-care. Now, they’re changing the frontline of sales and marketing.
Physicians welcome the shift. Forty-nine percent have already received a detail on an iPad or another tablet. They were able to name the details they remembered most – Pfizer, Merck, AZ, Abbott, GSK.3
Reps know how intrigued physicians are by the new tools – many report that their iPads have been plucked out of their hands by curious doctors who just want a test drive.
“Those tools have begun to change both healthcare and self-care.”
New questions from brand managers
This Spring, Digital Pharma East’s advisory board debated what critical topics attendees would be looking for this year. The conversation kept coming back to detailing: what tools should teams adopt, how will they change frontline conversations, what’s the right ROI model, how do we build our plan?
That got us thinking about the new best practices. We wanted to take what we’d learned launching and supporting e-detailing programs around the world and create a repeatable approach for launching sustainable digital detailing programs.
We identified four key elements at the foundation of the most successful plans:
Best practice #1: content – go native in the medium
All too often when a new tool arrives or a channel opens, the first question around the conference room table is: what do we have that we can repurpose?
But, the real opportunity on the tablet is creating something we could have never created before. The tablet details that docs remember have been reimagined, not repurposed.
“The tools we carry are changing the experiences we can create.”
Sixty-eight percent of physicians who have received a tablet detail said they were satisfied or very satisfied with the new experience. Those who were not said the detail appeared to be “optimized for another medium.” In other words – if you’re going to put your print detail on the screen, you might as well just bring the print detail.4
The tools we carry are changing the experiences we can create. Maybe more importantly, they’re changing the experiences physicians expect to have.
So, what can we create that we could have never created before?
Details that are custom, not canned
The iPad can support true scenario selling to allow our reps to customise the detail to the practice.
The rep can use what they know – or ask simple questions to fill in the blanks. That information can generate a more personalised experience.
Figure 1: Physicians can move five slider bars to show what topics they’re most interested in
In this simple example, physicians can move five slider bars to show what topics they’re most interested in.
Their answers dynamically change the content they’ll see on the next swipe. The options can be limitless, or carefully curated to be responsive to specific kinds of med legal review.
Conversations that are about tools, not talk
In digital and mobile mediums, people want to use our brands, not just read and learn about them. In our consumer lives that might mean getting a real-time quote, downloading a recipe or even completing an outfit.
In the practice, it means tools that make running the business easier, make conversations with patients more powerful, or just solve for everyday aggravations.
With a tablet in hand, reps can easily demo the great apps and tools the brand has created. The rep can even show the doc how to immediately install the tool on his own device.
Opportunities to shop, not drop
We think the days of trunk stock are short. Today’s physicians want more flexible leave-behinds – ones that include just the information they want and can be delivered any way they prefer.
The iPad’s touchscreen interface makes it easier to shop and select together. In this example, the rep is sharing a wide range of patient support tools.
Figure 2: The rep is sharing a wide range of patient support tools with the physician
The physician can click into anyone he’s interested in to see more detail and add it to a personalised cart. At the end of the detail, the practice’s name can automatically be added to most of the materials and the physician can choose which to send by email or text message and which to have shipped to the office.
“In digital and mobile mediums, people want to use our brands, not just read and learn about them.”
Interactions that are logical, not linear
Conversations never follow the path we sketch out on a white board. In the field, they’re much more like those ‘choose your own adventure’ books – even when they start in the same place, they have many possible endings.
The touchscreen interface can make navigating those meetings a lot easier.
Hot spots and callouts let reps drill down into the data or ideas the physician is most interested in. Toggles turn on or off levels of detail. One tap can reorder a map or a chart to look at a question from a different angle.
Multiple paths create a sense of discovery (to replace the page flip). And, make it easier to get to the most relevant answers within the two-minute call window.
Stories we build together, not just tell to each other
The iPad can create a virtual lab, an interactive operating room, or any other space we might want to collaborate in.
That dramatically changes the interaction. Now we can build scenarios together that reflect the practice’s real patients and demonstrate the impact of a therapeutic.
In this example, we use pinch and zoom to pull apart and rotate a device, letting the physician see how it’s built and how it’s implanted.
Figure 3: Pinch and zoom can be used to pull apart and rotate a device, letting the physician see how it’s built and how it’s implanted.
Best practice #2: take the time to train
When an interface is as intuitive as the iPad, it’s easy to think: anyone could do it. But, when we’re rolling out to a diverse sales force, nothing could be further from the truth.
We recently came across this great quote from Dave Mihalik, senior director of marketing at EKR Therapeutics, which illustrates how adoption really works: “We thought we were being so creative in the way that we were delivering the training materials. But, the very first follow-up I got was, ‘Hey, can you send me a Word document with five clear steps so that I can open my iPad?'”5
The reason behind the gap is a little something called the adoption curve. The curve (below) illustrates how new technologies move from early adopters to mass adoption.
Figure 4: The curve illustrates how new technologies move from early adopters to mass adoption
“…if you’re going to put your print detail on the screen, you might as well just bring the print detail.”
Today, only 1 in 20 US consumers own a tablet. Most of us who do have been trained by Steve Jobs for years. We learned a little about how the iPad would work from our first iPod, a little more for our first iPhone and a lot more from the changing iOS.
When we arm an entire sales force with iPads, we’re connecting with people who would have naturally been at many different points on the adoption curve if they were to buy an iPad themselves.
Another trick of the curve is that, the further we move across it, the harder adoption can become. Think of every single point on that curve as a ‘plus one’ – a person who’s never picked up the device before, trying it for the first time. If you’re an early adopter, it’s easy to admit you don’t know how it works. If everyone around you is an expert in how to use it, it can be a little harder to take the risk.
One successful strategy to help reps feel confident with the tools is releasing the technology before the content. Give reps one to three months to play with the tablet and make it part of their lives before you mandate it for work.
Training on the content is essential, too. When tablet details take true advantage of the medium, the opportunities to change and guide the conversation can be endless. We’ve seen as much as a 50% gap in adoption between teams that just got an implementation guide and ones that got a guided tour.
Best practice #3: build a measurement plan upfront
There is one critical question brand managers should answer before undertaking any strategy: what do you want to accomplish? The answer will guide both what we create and how we measure.
Return-on-investment models are still emerging for the iPad. Some companies are measuring their cost savings (paperless workforce), others are looking to productivity (particularly access). Whatever the brand’s larger goal, there are three emerging measurement models we’re tracking:
• Longitudinal measurement: cost per engagement pre-/post-launch
• Test-and-roll modelling: launching the iPad with a key segment first and tracking the test group versus a control group against existing metrics and goals
• Satisfaction tracking: field feedback (from physicians or reps) and overall access.
Best practice #4: create a truly integrated sales kit
The iPad offers new kinds of interaction and interactivity so reps can answer physicians’ questions on demand and engage with both marketing and operations in real time. An ideal sales suite makes the tablet the centre of a full set of tools:
Figure 5: An ideal sales suite makes the tablet the center of a full set of tools
1. Manhattan Research, 2011
2. First Word report, The Impact of iPads on Pharma, July 2011
3. Manhattan Research, 2011
4. Intouch Solutions &, Harrison Group, 2011
5. First Word report, The Impact of iPads on Pharma, July 2011
About the authors:
Leigh Householder is VP/Managing Director of iQ, an innovation lab of GSW Worldwide.
Sean Cowan is VP/Creative Director of GSW Worldwide.
This article was inspired by a presentation the authors created for Digital Pharma East: Rethinking Rep Tools: Digitally Arming the Sales Force (again).
What are your top tips for creating a truly integrated sales kit?