Will technology replace sales reps? A recent Wall Street Journal article (http://on.wsj.com/m8dEMx) seemed to indicate that this is the trend in some Pharma companies. While the size of sales forces continues to shrink, the use of digital selling tools is expanding. The article was touting how technology provides cost savings but did admit that some physicians stated their preference is to get their information in person from a rep who they know and trust.
You could argue that the availability of the internet and online information does enable more avenues to access information rather than a sales person. These alternative ways of gaining knowledge provide justification of why more than ever that the sales rep needs to be effective. Undoubtedly, those physicians who closed their offices to sales reps were being inundated with a plethora of sales people who were demanding time from their customer’s increasingly busy schedule without providing value. Thinking like the customer (which is a mantra here at Delta Point), why would a physician want to give up so much of his/her time during the day to talk to a drug rep—unless that person had something of interest to say and value to provide.
Therefore it is more important than ever that sales people develop their skills. To be truly effective in selling, the sales professional needs to be proficient in the three interrelated and interdependent attributes of KMR: Knowledge, Messaging, and Relationships. Knowledge refers to learning as much as you can about your industry, your customer, and his/her passions, concerns, etc. Messaging enables you to communicate your knowledge adeptly while also being able to learn what it is you need to know to correctly position your product. Developing a relationship with your customer can be what sets you apart from your competition.
Referring back to that Wall Street Journal article, I would hazard a guess that those doctors who don’t see reps would still see sales people if they were proficient in these three areas—for they would provide value and reasons to meet with the physician. As technology continues to increase, it is the humanness and uniqueness and skill of the individual sales person that will continue to make a difference.