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Indian pharma brace to scout for digital marketing personnel to engage with clinicians & consumers

Nandita Vijay, Bengaluru
Friday, April 7, 2017, 08:00 Hrs  [IST]

Indian pharma companies are currently facing a dual challenge of hiring and creating a digital marketing sales team. On the one hand the companies are under huge pressure for promoting their products & services on the other is to access the right tech and marketing savvy teams to approach towards customer engagement.

With changing times, the ideology of customers is no longer to interact and connect with sales representatives. Their reduction in sales call rates is increasingly expensive and has lost its core value of interaction. Also with increasing inquisitiveness of consumers to fetch direct information indicates that they are more interested in obtaining medical information and engaging with clinicians than meeting with promotional representatives.
More promising in the area of specialist medicine, is digital interaction which are proven to be far more effective at a fraction of cost. Even partial adoption of digital can reduce promotional costs by between 20 and 50 per cent. So companies need to divert and spread their channels, said Munira Loliwala, Business Head – EMPI (Engineering, Manufacturing, Process/Pharmaceuticals & Infrastructure), TeamLease.
According to Uma Nandan Misra, dean, Pharmacy Training Institute, Bengaluru, India has moved well in digitisation . Top 250 pharma companies are fairly well entrenched in this space. This industry exports to 220 countries and with change in regulations and demand for transparency, being tech savvy can helps this sector to thrive. Moreover, digitization in global pharma companies is mostly led by those of Indian origin.
Majority of today’s Healthcare Professionals (HCP) are digital natives, which means that there is already sufficient access to tech platforms and online tools. More than 86% of the HCP carry smartphones and almost 50% carry tablets to work. The need for pharma companies is to bridge this gap between them and the HCPs to reach the target audience. Companies would need to re-examine their approach and strategy to engage with such talent, noted Loliwala.
The need of the hour is drug product specific training and this includes digital technology. Currently in pharma companies, it is a mix of veterans in sales along with a young agile tech savvy brigade who are way ahead in digital technology. However, qualifications in pharma and biotechnology are much desired to succeed, noted Misra.
Pharma prescription product selling is not B2B or B2C but targeted at qualified medical experts and educated patients. The sales force are adapting to tech savvy platforms to increase their network. Considering the focus needs to be on talent rather than cost, the road map needs to be aligned towards niche players since they dominate a fragmented market. Therefore companies need to adapt to short term contracts with flexible deal mechanism to work closely with this set of hires who are armed with digital marketing skills, said Loliwala.


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