April 17, 2020/Aktana/Blog

In this blog series, Aktana is sharing some of the lessons learned and best practices developed through our experience serving clients in China. If you missed it, be sure to read Part 1.

Lesson #3: Empower your commercial teams.

As you support your commercial teams, recognize that this is a new world for them, too. No one is certain how this pandemic will play out, but there are ways you can help your sales and marketing teams feel more empowered and be more effective with customers.
Give clear guidance about acceptable ways to engage with customers and ensure they have the infrastructure to deliver. For example, home-based team members may not have sufficiently fast Internet to support video conferencing. If you can, help expand their bandwidth accordingly. Just as important, don’t assume that everyone on your team is well versed in every communication channel. They may not be familiar with using online conferencing tools like Zoom. Reps may not even be comfortable picking up the phone and engaging with prescribers in that way. If you are instructing your commercial teams to use a new channel, offer training to ensure they have the knowledge and comfort to be successful. As one example, a client in China worked quickly to find new ways to adapt existing content to new channels. Recognizing that the sales force had little experience in tele-detailing, they created a script for reps to follow to ensure they would cover the right topics in the right order. Aktana helped ensure these new tools were used for the right audience, with the right cadence, in the preferred channel for each HCP.

Lesson #4: Get creative with content.

You probably have no shortage of brand content, but now is not the time to inundate your customers with long-form papers. Follow the example of another Aktana client in China, whose marketing team created a daily “blog” on WeChat, which functions like a highly interactive text-messaging platform. Working with compliance and legal teams, they transformed lengthy brand content into bite-sized chunks designed to be highly relevant to the current situation. The home office distributed the messages to reps, who could then decide how best to share it with their prescribers (via SMS, email, video call or phone call). This best practice can be adapted in several ways:

  • Break long brand content into smaller chunks for use with customers.
  • Share helpful information that isn’t specific to the brand (for example, alerts about pollen levels in the local area).
  • Share internal messages with sales reps to keep them informed and motivated in this dynamic situation.

As you find ways to make your content fit new channels, Aktana can help your organization continually assess the landscape to reduce the likelihood that your messages will be interpreted as “noise.” Our learning model will help you assess HCP preferences to be mindful about frequency. Don’t assume you have to share information daily or even at the same cadence as your normal face-to-face contact.

For more on this topic, check out Part 3.