Where’s my jetpack? Why digital sales technology has been slow to take off

Blog_icon_wheres-my-jetpackGiven that we read continually about e-detailing and digital marketing, you might expect that it was fully embedded in life science marketing by now – but at the Anthill webinar on 26 November a very different picture emerged.


Only 11% of interactions with healthcare professionals in the UK are supported with some sort of e-detailer on a hand-held device, 51 % of interactions are supported by paper detailers and 10,6 % by laptop based materials and 27,4 % happen without any detailing support, reported guest speaker Gracia Rodriguez Valbuena, Product Marketing Manager at Cegedim.

The slow introduction of technology was confirmed by the webinar participants in a micro survey, with only 18% stating that their company had gone fully digital and the majority reporting a mixed picture: many brands on paper and some brands digital.

So what is slowing our progress?

Organizational factors

Webinar participants saw organizational un-readiness as a major obstacle to the widespread adoption of digital technologies.

Mads Bjarni-Kornbech, Head of Marketing at Agnitio, suggested that this is due to the fact that ‘going digital’ is a journey where things don’t happen overnight. Progress requires organizational changes and it takes time to embed a digital mindset and make it part of the daily routines for marketers and the sales force.

Christian Stehle, Senior Consultant Sales & Services at Pitcher, also noted that there is crucial knowledge about change management missing in the organizations. This slows down the adoption rates of any changes occurring, and negatively influences uptake of CLM technologies as well.

Content problems

The webinar speakers in particular also saw content as a key factor in the slow implementation of digital sales technology. Christian Stehle from Pitcher, believed that creating the right kind of content remained an issue – and often CLM and e-detailing implementations did not take full advantage of the technology and appeared uninvolving and ‘brochure-like’ to healthcare professionals.

Gracia Rodriguez Valbuena from Cegedim pointed out that, based on a study in Spain, healthcare professionals have apetite for digital tools, and it is mainly good content addressing their everyday issues that catches their attention.

The importance of CLM delivering a better service to healthcare professionals was confirmed by Mads Bjarni-Kornbech of Agnitio. Companies that have learned how to use the insights gathered from e-detailing to adapt their content, he argued, can make the communication more relevant to each healthcare professional.

Sales rep engagement

Having more interactive and rich content available would not only please healthcare professionals but also the reps. While more than a fifth of the attendees at the webinar said that rep pushback is a big barrier to e-detailing adoption, Gracia Rodriguez Valbuena of Cegedim suggested that more interactive content is exactly what reps need to react flexibly to healthcare professionals’ questions – with visual and factual support always to hand.

Accelerate the adoption

The good news is that, while adoption of new technologies might be sluggish, the road ahead is clear for acceleration. With right content, we can take full advantage of the opportunities that the technology offers for high-value service and knowledge delivery.

That requires moving on from ‘a brochure under glass’ to delivering interactive and individualized experiences – and then embracing a more iterative schedule of e-detailing content production to respond to what the data is telling us.

Good content will drive acceptance of the technology by both the healthcare professionals and the reps – and that will propel us into true 21st century communication.


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