VIVA! catches up with DigiPharm Australia 2011 speaker, Rob Dickerson, Sales & Marketing Director, Warner Chilcott / Invida

Simply uploading a printed version of a pharmaceutical sales aid to a tablet device, such as the iPad, will not enhance sales results, says Asia-Pacific Sales & Marketing Director Rob Dickerson.

With 20 years experience in the pharmaceutical industry and a proven formula for achieving, measuring and maintaining call quality, Mr Dickerson insists company representatives wanting to enhance sales force effectiveness should assess all their options before jumping on the e-detailing bandwagon.

“The decision to employ e-detailing needs to be based on thorough research and commitment rather than a false need to follow the digital trends,” Mr Dickerson says.

“Sales force effectiveness still relies heavily on the quality of the interaction between the sales representative and the physician.

“When introducing the iPad, the challenge for sales and marketing leaders is to maintain these quality interactions. A representative’s skills set cannot be outsourced to new technologies,” says Mr Dickerson.

“Industry representatives should also consider how the digital technology may enhance the selling process, and how it will demonstrate effective and consistent ROI.

“Converting a paper-based sales aid is a costly exercise. The sales aid copy and graphics and the sales force marketing strategy need to be revised and tailored specifically for a tablet device. And let’s not forget the physicians. The new sales aid should be tailored according to their needs and technology levels,” Mr Dickerson says.

“In addition, most companies deploy a six-month marketing cycle with a need to refresh the sales aid. This involves further training and a potential significant increase in costs with no real savings in sight.

“It’s also an accepted adage that strategy lives and dies with first-line managers. So to leave them out of this process would definitely lead to negative impacts on the business,” says Mr Dickerson.

“The next step involves establishing a thorough training process to develop the necessary skills for the sales force. Finally, there is the need to total up all expenditure including lost opportunity costs and ongoing software costs to uncover any potential upside.

“With careful consideration, the company representative may decide that e-detailing is the right option for them and their customers,” says Mr Dickerson.

“However, regardless of advancing technologies, one thing remains certain. GPs still highly regard and value quality interactions with their sales force representative. Maintaining high levels of call quality is still the right choice.”

Rob Dickerson’s passion for creating cohesive teams to drive business outcomes is evident in his successful, consistent management style. His National Warner Chilcott team won the prestigious PRIME Sales Team of the Year for outstanding sales performance across two consecutive years in 2010 and 2011.

Rob Dickerson is presenting “eDetailing vs. eMotion” at the Digital Pharma Marketing Australia 2011 conference in Sydney on Tuesday, November 29. Registrations are still open.

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