As pharmaceutical sales representatives know only too well, a decision-making process is not based alone on rational factors. Contrary to some opinion, doctors and healthcare professionals do not operate in an emotional vacuum, even though they often have to keep their emotional sides in check to maintain professional competency and sanity. They lead their lives in the real world and are subject to the formation of opinions, the attraction of positive and negative emotions in any number of ways. This subtle interaction of external factors can often help persuade a process of decision-making and this is becoming readily apparent in the field of pharma training.
As the marketplace becomes more diverse, more competitive and is subject to more restriction, pharmaceutical companies must ensure that their employees are trained to deal with the new reality. Some studies have shown that emotional factors can account for almost as many motivational triggers as their rational counterparts. Whether the professional is aware of the situation or not is conjecture, but it certainly makes the role of the pharmaceutical sales representative a lot more difficult. The professional may be inspired by a particular brand reputation, by a particularly positive or negative reaction from a client or two and could form opinions based on the overall success of a brand marketing campaign. Often, a brand that is not able to portray its "nobility" in holistic terms, may fall well short of satisfying a healthcare professional’s avowed intention, to provide for their patient’s ultimate care.
Key account management training should encourage individuals within the organisation to observe and decipher the process of decision-making as keenly as possible. It is often impossible to fully determine and to understand what emotional factors may drive the choice, as a professional may not reveal these elements, consciously or subconsciously. Nevertheless, a keen observation may reveal subtle clues, be they visual, spoken or sometimes written and this data should be gathered and assessed to enable a pattern to be revealed.
Certain insight research groups are beginning to compile trend information and analysing the emotional needs of physicians and practitioners, providing such information to the pharmaceutical industry. Consultants should pay particular attention to the findings of these surveys, which could help to pinpoint areas where the particular organisation can improve. Key account management training should then be modified to ensure that the approach is consistent with the needs of the client, from both a rational and from an emotional perspective.
In the ultimate position, the pharmaceutical sales company will be more aware of individual buying decisions than the individual responsible for making the decision. It's important to understand that emotional triggers can not only affect individual prescription decisions, but also affect engagement from an overall perspective. If the pharmaceutical company can make alterations to its modus operandi, then it may in turn bypass the objections of the client.
As the market becomes more and more competitive and even more heavily regulated, it is likely that emotional buying decisions will become even more relevant.