Why Pharma’s Evolving Channel Mix Requires a New Approach to Measurement

Engaging with healthcare professionals (HCPs) in the time of COVID-19 has presented commercial teams with one curveball after another. Just as in-person calls started climbing back to pre-pandemic levels in 2021, another surge fueled by Omicron (with some experts predicting another to come) is forcing companies to reevaluate their engagement models for the year ahead.

Navigating these uncertain times requires data to gauge the best tactics for engaging HCPs in the most effective, promotionally responsive way. But without a standard method of tracking call data, understanding what “good” engagement looks like is extremely difficult; findings will be guesstimates at best.

Standardizing metrics within your company—and benchmarking field performance against your peer set—is a must-have as we progress through another year of hybrid engagement.

Virtual or face-to-face: Which channel is more effective?

The biggest question on commercial leaders’ minds right now is, how much to invest in digital versus in-person engagements? According to Veeva Pulse industry benchmark data, most top U.S. pharma companies are above the industry average for reps’ virtual meeting adoption, with 85% using virtual meetings compared to the 30% industry average.1 And this distinction makes a difference: Virtual meetings are 3x more promotionally responsive than traditional face-to-face calls.

1Veeva Pulse data, July – Sept 2021.

The need for clean, consistent data

With the widespread adoption of CRM in life sciences, companies have been able to quickly adapt to evolving HCP preferences for engagement, whether that’s digital, in-person, or a mix of both. By bringing rep activity, content, and channels into one place, CRM systems have been key to creating omnichannel experiences that generate deeper customer insights.

Those insights, however, are dependent on having clean, consistent data. When calls are logged differently by different reps (or worse, not logged at all), the team’s ability to identify the most effective actions is impacted dramatically.

In working with companies across the industry, we’ve seen a broad range of definitions being used to identify call channels and users in CRM systems. Standardizing a set list of values creates an opportunity for commercial organizations to be more efficient and HCP-centric by using a common language for engagement.

Not only will it allow you to benchmark performance against your peers, but also answer key questions that inform commercial strategy, such as ‘How fast is face-to-face returning across regions?’ ‘What’s the right channel mix of virtual versus in-person?’ or ‘How can we benchmark more clearly across different field roles?’

With digital and hybrid engagement now the norm, understanding the effectiveness of different channels and approaches will be crucial to identifying the right channel mix moving forward.

Standard metrics for deeper industry insights

The three metrics that can benefit the most from standardization are call channel, the precise type of channel used for the call; user type, which specifies the organization that the user belongs to; and country, which captures where the user is located. When these data types are logged consistently in your CRM system, you’ll be able to capture better industry insights through benchmarks built on standardized data.

At Boehringer Ingelheim, for example, industry benchmark data provided by Veeva Pulse has given the commercial team visibility into engagement trends as the company shifted to a hybrid engagement model. “Standard metrics will bring an additional level of clarity that will strengthen the way we make informed decisions with this data,” says Carol-Ann Krupka, head of Customer-Facing Execution Excellence at Boehringer Ingelheim.

Normalizing data for comparison across regions and organizations will not only deliver faster insights, but also allow for downstream innovation and functionality from your CRM system. Integrated scheduling, timeline insights, and channel preference data can all be enhanced when you have a common set of metrics to work from.

“Standard metrics will bring an additional level of clarity that will strengthen the way we make informed decisions with this data.” Carol-Ann Krupka, Head of Customer-Facing Execution Excellence at Boehringer Ingelheim

Setting a higher bar for future engagements

Understanding HCP engagement from both an aggregate and individual level is a critical next step toward improving customer experiences and field effectiveness. While standardizing metrics will require some change management, rep training and user-friendly documentation—or in certain instances, auto-populated fields—can help ease the transition.

In the end, the benefits will far outweigh any initial inconvenience to field users. Reps will improve productivity and impact, HCPs will get the information they need through their preferred channels, and patients will get the right treatments at the right time.

To learn more about standardizing your call data, visit the Veeva CRM Standard Metrics page for additional resources.

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