Sales rep tips for oncologist calls: Keep it short, use visuals and bring new info, says consultancy

Doctor and patient talking and discussing health treatment while sitting at the desk. Physician pointing into tablet pc.
Oncology doctors rate pharma sales reps visits as more memorable depending on information, visuals and time spent. (andrei_r/GettyImages)

Oncology drug sales reps can sharpen in-office visits with doctors with specific actions. That’s according to a ZoomRx study of in-office oncology promotions across 120 brands during the past five years.

The findings? New information, short visits and visual aids resulted in more impactful visits. For instance, visits where sales reps delivered novel data or information were considered “highly impactful” by 40% of oncologists versus just 24% when no new information was presented, the digital health consultancy found. That’s an opportunity for reps. because only one-fifth of visits contain new information, according to ZoomRx’s surveyed oncologists.

Visuals are also important. Forty-three percent of visits where sales reps used visual aids rated as high impact versus 35% of interactions without visual aids. Notably, digital information—shown on an iPad in this case—versus traditional print materials did not make a difference in doctors’ assessment of high impact meetings.

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Another way sales reps can make an impression is to keep visits short and stay focused on the product. ZoomRx estimates the median length of oncology sales visits are just 10 minutes.

To collect its data, ZoomRx’s team records individual oncology healthcare professional (HCP) interactions with pharma sales reps and tracks general details of how the visit went and what was discussed. ZoomRx then returns to the same HCPs two weeks later and asks what they remember, if anything, from the encounter.

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The method collects both immediate and later perceptions, allowing the consultancy to understand whether the pharma rep’s message is getting through to create a lasting impression.

“That gives us a good sense of how ‘sticky’ the interactions with sales reps are and understand the impact of the messages themselves,” said Aravind Nagarajan, associate principal at ZoomRx.

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ZoomRx’s clients include Merck & Co., Johnson & Johnson’s Janssen unit, Genentech and Amgen.

As in any sales encounter, the closing ask is also key in pharma rep visits, the research found. When doctors were asked to prescribe a drug, 46% of HCPs rated the visit high impact versus 34% when the rep didn’t ask, ZoomRx found.

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