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Pharmaceutical Sales Should Invest More in Digital Engagement During COVID-19

The impact of COVID-19, better known as coronavirus, is still unknown but there is clearly a significant humanitarian impact where health professionals, government agencies, and industry are working together to help support our global community.  In addition to the humanitarian crisis, there is also a significant amount of disruption and uncertainty related to the global economy. There has already been significant disruptions to business because of travel restrictions, large-scale quarantines, and strong social-distancing measures taking place across the nation. For corporations that are heavily reliant on an in-person sales model, such as pharmaceutical sales, this may be a time to reprioritize investments. Pharmaceutical sales teams and reps should be investing in advanced analytics, virtual training, and digital engagement during COVID-19.

Pharmaceutical companies that rely primarily on their salesforce teams to make contact with doctors and staff to educate on their products will likely experience a sales cliff as their field sales are experiencing large-scale quarantine efforts. COVID-19 has completely shut down their direct access to healthcare providers and this is a major problem, not only for pharmaceutical sales, but also for doctor and patient access to product information and samples. Although field sales is the primary method for pharmaceutical sales, field sales teams have been shrinking for the past decade. More doctors have been attempting to engage in different marketing and sales methodologies and techniques with companies and raising their digital levels of engagement. Even before COVID-19, doctors were limiting the ability of salespeople to visit and spend time with them. With the decrease in the number of doctors overall and the increase in pharmaceutical companies attempting to reach them, there has become a deluge of marketing and sales information available in the market. Because the direct access between sales team and provider has been disrupted  for an uncertain amount of time, it is unclear whether the traditional way to conduct pharmaceutical sales will continue after this pandemic. It is possible that doctors will become accustomed to not seeing salespeople regularly for quite a long time, which is why mastering digital engagement during COVID-19 is critical for pharmaceutical sales reps.

With the brunt force of COVID-19 coming down on all industries, this is a time for leading pharmaceutical companies to start investing in analytics to better understand their health care provider communities, patients, and how to optimize their virtual engagement. This will allow pharmaceutical companies to sense, respond, and connect with the healthcare providers (HCPs) differently. Companies will need to invest in next-generation data management and consolidation platform, scales analytics capabilities, leverage data-driven insights to digitally engage with doctors and HCPs.

How can companies master digital engagement during COVID-19?

Pharmaceutical companies have the opportunity to develop a platform that delivers understanding, insights, actions, and measurements on healthcare providers for your digital sales and marketing activities.

  • Collect, consolidate, and analyze internal and external data sources
  • Update your sales and marketing processes to leverage more digital information to make engagement decisions
  • Segment health-care providers into different levels of the prescriber journey
  • Develop new digital sales and marketing channels to enhance engagement and education targeted at the right segment
  • Constantly test and measure approaches by HCP segment
  • Create and integrate a feedback-loop that determines the next best actions to take

So, what does this mean?

During this time of uncertainty,  pharmaceutical companies should consider shifting their focus and invest intelligently to become knowledgeable in digital engagement strategies now. When COVID-19  social distancing ends, it’s unlikely that the pharmaceutical sales strategies will ever fully revert to the old model.

Here are some questions that your pharmaceutical company should be considering:

  • What is our digital engagement approach?
  • How do we understand more from our data sources?
  • How do we collect digital information about HCPs and content across all channels and mediums?
  • What new ways from an analytical perspective can we encourage HCPs to “lean in”?
  • How do we share new content out with them?
  • How do we track engagement with that content?
  • How do we test and continue to refine?
  • How do we start leveraging digital platforms?
  • How do we gear our content to doctors?

Analytics platforms can help pharmaceutical companies answer these questions and enable their initiatives on digital engagement during COVID-19 and beyond.


A lot of data that pharmaceutical companies have access to either through public domains, clinical trial data, scripts, engagement, different programs, can be leveraged to help them understand their healthcare providers. The ability to pull a variety of data sources together and analyze quickly will identify areas of opportunity and provide action to act quickly. Companies haven’t had to do this yet, but now is the time. These specific actions will become a necessity for companies as this is now a different paradigm for business.

Developing an analytics platform within your pharmaceutical company that can ingest data and information coming from numerous channels that can identify what motivates your HCPs is necessary for increasing digital capabilities for your business. An analytics platform can provide recommendations for your team to focus on when pitching to HCPs to increase sales opportunities as businesses return to a new normal.

Companies need to understand that this analytically-driven digital engagement approach is important from a content marketing perspective and as a tool to create a holistic understanding for your sales teams of the healthcare provider community.

To learn more about how pharmaceutical companies can engage in digital engagement during COVID-19, contact us.

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Tags: Analytics, COVID-19