How to Ensure Pharma Sales Reps Actually Use Mobile Devices—and Get the Most Out of Them

Mahmood Majeed, Principal

There’s a lot at stake. And pharmaceutical companies have already invested or are investing a lot of money in acquiring the mobile technology, developing the processes, and enabling the sales force to use mobile technology on a day-to-day basis.

It serves as a unity of purpose: A mobile technology can be a cell phone. It can be a GPS. It can be a tablet. It can be a computer. And it could be an enabler for them to execute their business processes, so, a lot of things within this one device.

Now, if you think about how you want to ensure that these are being used by the reps, it’s absolutely essential for you to think how reps would think. And companies that are really thinking from this perspective are gaining significant advantages.

Traditionally, IT companies have this "Field of Dreams" approach, where [they think], "Let’s build it and users will come and use it." IT departments can no longer just develop applications and throw it out on the other side of the wall thinking that the users will just use it. They will have to really engage the users from the get-go.

And not just the user, but they have to engage the customers. In some situations, we have seen companies not only are actually looking at what reps are using it for but also how they interact with customers and what customer’s perspectives are—and that helps them develop applications that are really addressing the users and the customer needs.

Now, you can't force a solution that could work for both a technology-savvy rep and a technology-averse rep. Companies need to develop simple yet generic applications that can be adapted company-wide, and can create a broader success, instead of making it too specific and too custom for individual purposes.

In our experience, we are seeing that companies that have actually implemented mobile technology with [the] end-user’s perspective in mind have had great successes. For example, they can have increased sales, because their sales reps are more productive, and they’re spending more time selling than actually doing administrative tasks.

The reps have more access to information, so they’re more effective in front of customers. They’re more responsive; they’re more consultative reps, instead of just going into the office and then dropping samples or checking the box. And it gives them the opportunity to collaborate with their peers to ensure that when they learn these new things they are able to collaborate in a timely manner that gives them an edge towards [outselling] their competition.