As any sales rep will tell you, getting face time with an HCP sometimes took months of preparation and calling. Then the Coronavirus hit and business as we knew it screeched to a halt. As life and business slowly restarted, we came to rely on some new best friends — virtual meeting apps like WebEx, Zoom, and GoToMeetings. Little did we know that they would become our lifeline in connecting with clients.
Challenges of Virtual Engagement
Reliance on virtual engagement does not come without challenges. If you were not technically proficient before, you must be an expert now. “Upskilling” will be your new mantra, and that includes learning how to navigate these virtual tools and platforms. The supporting content that you present on screen needs to be graphically interesting, not an endless sea of bullet points. You’ve got the client’s undivided attention, so you will be tempted to do a big information dump. Resist that urge, and instead, parse your information into bite-sized nuggets that the client can easily process.
What about your on-screen presence during a meeting? Do you look professional and exude confidence, or are you a hot mess with kids screaming in the background? A quiet, clutter-free space in your home is essential to communicating with the client.
Also, what does the client’s online presence tell you about how they’re responding to your presentation? Not being face to face reduces your ability to read the client’s body language, so you will have to rely more heavily on interpreting facial expressions and auditory clues. Now, more than ever, your active listening skills are critical.
Future of Physician Access
One thing is clear — the life sciences industry is adapting to the current situation and moving forward. While it may be all virtual engagement for now, at some point, we will be back in the physicians’ offices. In some states, this is already happening, with reps taking the proper PPE precautions.
While we hastily adopted virtual engagement for expedience and convenience, some interesting benefits have come to light. Reps report that call durations have increased from 5 minutes to 22 minutes. In-person meetings that were sometimes hit and run conversations are now longer “quality time” conversations on a virtual platform — as much as an hour! And physicians that couldn’t be reached by phone are accessible and open to meeting virtually.
It’s quite possible that the silver lining to this pandemic was bringing virtual engagement to the forefront; it may be the next step in the evolution of sales calls. If that is the case, then a hybrid combination of the two — face-to-face interaction and virtual engagement — is the future of physician access. To position yourself for success with this hybrid physician access model, check out our new program: “Virtual Selling: Making the Connection.”