There’s a lot of interest these days among pharmaceutical marketing and sales executives in sales force effectiveness (SFE). The brisk sales of a compilation of reprints I have put together on this topic (see “Increase Physician Access and Detailing Effectiveness“; a Special Supplement to Pharma Marketing News) is part of the reason why I make this claim, but it is a well-recognized trend supported by a large number of industry conferences devoted to the topic.
It used to be that SFE implied technology — call tracking databases, tablet PCs, etc. — but lately it’s about actually getting in to see the physician and making the most of the 2 minutes allotted. Many physicians feel overwhelmed by reps seeking face time. They are pushing back.
The eDetailing Solution
There have been a number of solutions suggested for this problem. eDetailing is one solution that is gaining momentum, especially among the pharma marketing “e-literati.” Again, I base this on how well another Special Supplement is selling (see “eDetailing“).
On the one hand, I think proponents of eDetailing are drinking their own Kool-aid (see, for example, “eDetailing: Surveys Say…“). On the other hand, I think it is a viable solution (see, for example, “eDetailing ROI Better Than DTC?“).
Needs Some Spice
eDetailing, however, lacks at least one essential element: human interaction. Believe it or not, some doctors like to see at least some of the reps that call on them. Considering that pharma companies may be placing more emphasis on sales rep beauty and personality than on knowledge (see “Sexy Reps Sell Rx“), this is not surprising.
Sex and money have been proven human motivators for centuries (eons even!). And pharmaceutical marketers have used both. For example, pharma companies have been caught many times enticing doctors to prescribe their products in exchange for lucre. This practice ranges from the illegal (as in kickbacks) to the unethical (as in paying docs to see reps or view eDetails). The OIG (Office of the Inspector General at HHS) and the Department of Justice are taking care of the former, while AMA and PhRMA guidelines have taken care of the latter.
How About Adding Some Sex Appeal?
Consequently, there is today an eDetailing incentive vacuum. Doctors cannot be offered cash anymore to sit through eDetails. The only option left, therefore, is sex appeal. I don’t think there are any guidelines that address that. So, why not try it? Yes, add sex to eDetails! Before you pooh-pooh this idea, consider how sex is now being added to ED drug marketing and consumer education (see “Jerry Hall, Women and Pharma Marketing“).
You might say, “There are other ways to jazz up eDetails, aside from sex and money, to motivate docs. Make it fun, for example.” Good point. Most eDetails are pretty boring. Many eDetailing designers jazz up their programs to look like video games and I am sure you will see more of that in the future. But even video games these days are not enticing enough just relying on the fun factor (like killing people or stealing cars). They also include sex — as in sexy celebrity avatars within the games themselves (and my son thinks I don’t see this?).
Now that Bayer has Jerry Hall on the pay role and is unfurling her at medical meetings to entice docs to visit the Levitra booth, why not use her sexy image and voice in eDetails? Or you could use cheerleader-type sales rep images as “guides.” Doctors could choose their own guide according to their preferences regarding sex (male of female), celebrity, race, etc. This would add a bit more human-like interaction — like a warm and fuzzy HAL a la the movie 2001. Hey, it could work!
But I can think of one problem: Michael Moore! Imagine if he got hold of images and video from such an eDetailing program! OMG!
It’s just so darn unfair that technology cannot use all the tools — like Jerry Hall and sexy cheerleaders — that are used for live details, special events and even on TV!