Liberating time in the Economy of Attention

Pharmaceutical CommercePharmaceutical Commerce - January/February 2013

Pharmaceutical marketing is now operating in a new landscape--the Economy of Attention

In the past, pharmaceutical reps and prescribers had time on their side, but now it’s at a premium. So much so, that a meeting between them may only last a matter of a few minutes, or even less. The question is, under such time constraints, can the prescriber truly listen to what the rep is saying and vice versa, and how productive is their interaction?

The instinctive human reaction to not being listened to is to shout louder or faster, or both. Historically, for a pharmaceutical sales team, that has meant hosing down the customer with increasing amounts of feature-focused, complex information. Unfortunately, complexity increases the number of items that need paying attention to, and it’s a lack of time, along with too little mental energy, which makes these items so difficult to process.

Attention, therefore, becomes a real bottleneck, a scarce and valuable resource that needs to be liberated. By liberating time for engagement, you free up attention bandwidth, increasing the quality, depth and value of interactions. Reps and prescribers can engage and have richer conversations that capture richer information, while building trust and loyalty.

In the past, traditional Customer Relationship Marketing (CRM) was the only option. Its primary currency was information and predicated on push thinking. It was a case of “here’s some information that we want you to know,” and its defining characteristics were metrics based around volume and response rate through targeting. It was a one-sided conversation. In fact, it wasn’t even a conversation—you were talked to.

So what is the catalyst for this liberation, the path to greater engagement and more meaningful conversations? It’s a combination of technology, particularly mobile, and Closed Loop Marketing (CLM) or pull marketing, which is starting to address the issue. We can and should live in a mobile world, where the primary currency is knowledge, and marketing is predicated on pull thinking. You are saying to your customer “what do you need to know and how do you want to receive it?” And with laptops, smartphones and interactive tablets, they can not only receive it how they want, but when they want and where they want.

With CLM, information becomes bespoke. It’s not a case of “one size fits all,” it’s personalized. You start with asking about the customer’s problem, challenge or interests, not telling them what information you have. So it’s not about what the rep does—but how the customer responds. From this, the customer essentially generates their own profile for the rep, who can then adapt their thinking, deliver the information the customer really finds useful, and continuously learn about the healthcare professional’s needs. The rep becomes more than just a salesperson. They are also a front-line marketer, gathering qualitative and quantitative data.

A good CLM platform will then turn the data into valuable information for the healthcare professional, accessible whenever and however they want across the digital space. For example, a bespoke microsite can be produced for the doctor, and automatically and regularly updated with articles and information on what is important to them—whether it be safety, efficacy or regulatory issues—and accessible through their desktop, laptop, tablet or mobile phone.

Mobile-enabled CLM allows you to be more dynamic, and in the medium term, it will pay back. On a practical level, a master presentation can be produced, which is easily edited for different markets, while a second closed loop of e-Learning can be tied in—so not only is a rep’s performance analyzed, but training solutions can be recommended and downloaded.

Agnitio’s experience is that if call duration time with a healthcare professional jumps by more than 50%, there is a 40% lift in unaided message recall, an increased right to revisit physicians, and significant improvements in product perception.

We must liberate time for engagement, to share richer conversations with our customers, build trust, create loyalty, and increase the value we offer.


Ole Schneider is executive vice president of Agnitio A/S ( Headquartered in Copenhagen, Agnitio has recently opened a new US office in Stamford, CT. Agnitio’s CLM system is implemented in more than 45 countries and 25 languages.

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