The use of tablets in the clinical sales enivironment

A few months ago I wrote a blog article about iPads being used for business instead of play. We, at Capstrat, conducted some research with healthcare sales reps last year, who are on the front lines selling to clinicians, administrators and physicians. We wanted to gain insight on effective selling strategies and tactics.

What seemed to be a recurring theme was that reps wanted iPads. They fully believed tablets could help them sell more effectively in front of physicians. Just this week, I ran across an article by CMR Institute that discusses the “iPad revolution” taking place in pharma land. To better understand tablet use among today’s sales representatives, CMR Institute polled nearly 16,000 of its current and former students about their interactions with clinicians, focusing on the use of tablets. Here are some of the key takeaways:
•    Nearly 47% reported using an iPad, while 37% said they don’t use any type of tablet during sales calls
•    47% of those surveyed report that the use of tablets has made interactions with clinicians more meaningful
•    58% of respondents said that the use of tablets has not improved sales numbers
•    36% of respondents use tablets to present product information; furthermore 29% said that presenting promotional materials on tablets is more effective

In my opinion, iPads and other electronic tablets do have a solid future in healthcare sales. Tablets are a great way to start and backup conversations with physicians. Tablets shouldn’t replace traditional sales aids and other sales tactics and shouldn’t be relied on to tell the full story. In fact, I see iPads being most helpful in showing clinical data, when you want to isolate one point of the study, or use them to show product demonstrations and mechanism of action animations. While no single sales tool is going to be the sole driver of increased sales, it is important for pharmaceutical marketing teams to consider the value of tablets and use them as complementary sales tools in the field.