Arming pharmaceutical and medical device sales professionals with intelligent technology is more important than ever. Over the course of many years, the focus of medical sales efforts has shifted from doctors to hospitals and groups of hospitals. The Wall Street Journal explored this trend in September 2014. Author Jonathan Rockoff cited Cegedim Relationship Management as saying “42% of doctors today practice as salaried employees of hospital systems, up from 24% in 2004.” Friendly relationships between sales professionals and physicians are being replaced with data-centric meetings with group purchasing officers. For better or worse, the era of medical swag-gifts (like OxyContin beach hats) is ending.
This new era in medical sales requires a new CRM strategy. Excel spreadsheets and a CRM that is a glorified appointment tracker is not adequate. Today, medical sales professionals need intelligent consumer-grade mobile applications. These applications must first help sales representatives target the right buyer. Understanding the needs of hospitals will help sales representatives spend their time most effectively. Next, representatives need an application that enhances their scientific acumen. Distilling data into understandable language helps representatives prove to the buyer how the product will lead to better outcomes for patients. Finally, effective applications will help representatives listen to administrative concerns, and thoughtfully respond with data. This includes showing administrators the value their hospitals are receiving through their purchases.
For the last few years, “social” and “mobile” have been the buzzwords for new CRM technology. The social concept has brought the power of networks to the sales process, while mobile has brought CRM into the field where it’s most useful. While these have become table stakes for CRM systems, the out-of-the-box applications available often fall short of the needs of medical sales professionals. As an alternative, Appirio has seen health care companies gain competitive advantage with custom mobile CRM applications. But with its introduction at Dreamforce 2014, we are also excited by the functionality of Salesforce’s Analytics Cloud (Wave). Wave is a great way to bring a mobile-ready data analysis experience to medical sales professionals.
In this brief demo, our Analytics team shows how Wave can be used to navigate the American Hospital Directory to plan a sales effort. In this example, our medical sales rep examines the occupancy rates of hospitals, along with the number of patients discharged with pacemakers. He then narrows this list of hospitals by region, letting him understand which hospitals are the biggest consumers of pacemakers in his area. This is a simple example, but it illustrates the power Wave gives to ordinary users in the field. Freed from long cycles requesting data from IT, medical sales professionals can use Wave to help them make data-enhanced decisions. It’s also easy to imagine Wave being loaded with data about the medical product itself. Wave can be used in meetings with group purchasing officers to show financial data from different perspectives, as well as answering questions about the effectiveness of the device or drug.
Sales systems for healthcare companies can no longer rely on relationship management alone. Medical sales professionals need to translate data and visualize it in ways that help prospects understand what they’re buying.