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Clinical Conversations Matter!

If you’re a patient suffering from Type II Diabetes, which statement would you trust more to increase your quality of life?

  1. “My drug is the best because it stimulates the body to produce insulin.”
  2. “In a clinical study titled, ‘Effects of a dietary supplement A on abnormal glucose levels in Type II Diabetes patients…,’ published in New England Journal of Medicine, Dr. Houser found that dietary supplement A effectively regulates blood sugar levels with fewer side effects than therapies X, Y, and Z in patients suffering from Type II Diabetes.”

For most patients, health care providers (HCPs) and clinical sales professionals, the latter elicits objectivity, adds genuine value, and instills confidence, which leads to fostering credibility. And yet, only a fraction of the life sciences sales professionals have evolved from the ostentatious, “American pharmaceutical [and medical device] salesperson” to the trusted clinical advisor.

In a world where healthcare is becoming increasingly personalized, the need for objectivity in treatment outcomes is critical. Clinical conversations founded on the principles of Evidence-Based Medicine (EBM) minimize the risk of prescribing treatments based on biased research and/or clever sales tactics. They also truly focus on the best possible care solutions for the patient. The 2014-2015 Sermo Survey results indicate that HPCs want to engage in clinical conversations with sales professionals who provide meaningful and unbiased information “using a high science sales approach that seamlessly incorporates clinical study results into a dialog to address specific issues concerning each physician’s practice.” A clinical sales professional who is committed to objectively presenting relevant clinical data in support of a care solution will be recognized by his peers and valued by HCPs.

The question that life sciences sales professionals should address, is how can they provide value in a technology-driven environment where approximately 94% of HCPs use smartphones and 77% use iPads for personal and/or professional needs? The majority of those same physicians (55%) desire for their sales reps to engage with them virtually. HCPs are zealous for clinical conversations grounded in EBM and focused on clinical research. Evidence shows that clinical sales representatives who leverage technology to engage are such clinical conversations will add value and excel in what some critics have touted “a dying profession.”

Synonyms for “credibility” include trustworthiness, reliability, dependability, reputation, and integrity. To embody these characteristics, clinical sales professionals must be objective in presenting clinical evidence and consistently add value when engaging in clinical conversations. According to Hoovers, to achieve the status of a trusted advisor, sellers, in general, must understand their audience, be relevant to the buyer, and approach the sale organically. For clinical sales professionals, this means researching your target HCPs and their patient demographics, sharing clinical data that is germane to their practice, and understanding how your product fits within their current treatment paradigm.

Recent market trends suggest that clinical sales representatives can still add value, but the days of the sales rep who walks into a clinical setting, drop off a business card and a few drug samples, and receives a call back from an enthusiastic physician are long gone. In today’s changing healthcare environment, the “hybrid” clinical sales representative who leverages technology to connect and share unbiased, relevant information will add value and ultimately become the sought-after, trusted advisor.

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