Spotlight On: The secret weapon of sales reps in China – text messaging

There is a growing body of evidence to support the view that smart phones and 'app' technology are playing a key role in physician's relationships with both pharmaceutical sales representatives and, increasingly, with patients (see Spotlight On: Physician usage of mobile Apps). However, it is one of the more humble features of the mobile phone – the text message – that has become an important tool for pharmaceutical sales representatives; particularly in China.

The findings come from a recent survey conducted by FirstWord, whereby 1200 physicians were polled on their preferred and most recent interactions with pharmaceutical sales representatives. See also Spotlight On: Physician Poll Reveals Important Insights into Local Market Detailing Preferences.

In the week prior to being surveyed by FirstWord, 40 percent of doctors in China had been contacted by a pharma rep via text message. This was by far the highest proportion within any country included in the survey, but this approach from pharma companies was not limited to China; indeed, a notable proportion of physicians in other ASEAN countries, Spain and the US all said that they had interacted with sales representatives via text message over the previous week.

As there is a gradual shift away from the traditional face-to-face interaction between physicians and sales representatives – another key finding from the survey – text messaging would appear to have emerged as one of a handful of complimentary methods of contact that the industry is embracing.

But is it working? Not according to FirstWord's survey – unless you are a physician in China that is, where 13 percent of respondents indicated it has become their preferred form of interaction with sales representatives. Interestingly, no doctors in any other country cited it as their preferred form of contact. A lesson for the industry perhaps?

For more information about FirstWord's Physician and Sales Rep Interaction poll and report click here.

To read more Spotlight On articles, click here.