How to ensure that your customer engagement strategy with doctors is fit for purpose

Reshaping your multi-channel strategy based on HCPs’ aspirations and needs

By Clàudia Sureda, Innovation Manager at A Piece of Pie

A tale of two doctors

Paul and Anne are two Dermatologists taking different approaches when it comes to treatment. Paul, the more conventional doctor, likes the tried-and-true while Anne, the more forward-thinker, prefers to experiment with new and innovative therapies.

A pharma company comes into the picture to meet the needs of both Paul and Anne. For its new product launch to be a success, the company has put special emphasis on developing an engagement model suited to a COVID context, tailored to its existing customer types. Anne is considered a high potential and early adopter specialist, so sales reps and MSLs will reach out to her frequently. By contrast, Paul is considered on the lower end, and will be exclusively contacted through other means such as emails.

However, as months go by, the company does not see the expected results.

Customer potential is important, but not enough

Traditionally, companies customize their approach strategies according to the customers’ potential. They normally pour more resources (i.e., sales representatives) to reach those customers with the greatest potential and leave with less investment and a multi-channel communication strategy (considered as second rate) the ones which less options to succeed.

We believe it is time for companies to take stock and include new variables into the equation. Is it effective to increase visits to time-constrained doctors like Anne? What value do doctors like Paul get in having multi-channel communications without that personal touch they really appreciate?

Without accounting for the needs and aspirations of the different customers, the door is wide open for Pharma to make errors and to have an irrelevant impact in the relationship with these doctors.

Engagement strategies must be tailored to customer needs and motivations

Trust is the base of any transaction. For companies to be able to build that trust, they must first understand the most effective ways to connect with customers, answering questions such as:

  • What do customers expect from us? What do they value from our offering and company? How do they want us to make them feel?
  • What is the best way to approach them? What is their digital behavior and preferences? What barriers prevent them from becoming more digital?

At the end of the day, doctors are people. If a company truly wants to bring value to them, it must deliver something that matters to them and do it in a way that reaches them.

When one truly understands the customer, it becomes clear that those doctors who come under the ‘high’ potential label (like Anne), do not need hand-holding engagement. What really matters to them is receiving the information they want in a quick way, regardless of the channel. They look for the efficient, fast, and pragmatic approach of communication. Anne would thrive considerably more with a multi-channel approach.

On the contrary, doctors like Paul, who come under the ‘low’ potential label, need a consistent and personalized relationship with the company. The rep gives the doctor a sense of assurance in their decision making while helping him out with possible ruts for treating patients.

Furthermore, the evidence show that Paul will tend to become more loyal to a pharmaceutical company if it manages to establish a bond of trust with him, while Anne will be more volatile in her preferences.

These findings will not only lead a company to re-define their engagement strategy, but also to change the way it prioritizes customers.

Key learnings

If you want to devise a robust and successful customer engagement strategy we recommed you to:

  1. Carefully understand your customer needs, motivations, aspirations, and digital behaviors/ preferences, as well as what they expect from you. For this, you need to apply a multi-technical approach (e.g., social listening, anthropological & quantitative) to gain a comprehensive perspective.
  2. Strive to integrate sales reps and multi-channel activities. None of them is intrinsically better than the other one, so you need to find the right balance depending on each customer type.
  3. Empathize, involve, and train your teams to empower them. Remember that teams who will be implementing these models (i.e., sales and marketing) also have their own needs, fears, and motivations. These must be considered and solved to ensure a successful launch.
  4. Design clear guidelines and simple frameworks that can guarantee the acceptance and implementation of your costumer engagement strategy in different countries.

Looking for a change?

At A Piece of Pie, we specialize in the definition and implementation of meaningful customer engagement strategies, based on a deep and robust understanding of your customers. By means of our multiple emotional & anthropological studies across sectors, we understand what really matters to people, what will connect with them and how to achieve the best outcome out of that connection.

If you want to take a real people-centric approach to engage with your customers and to ensure that thinking is put into action successfully, get in contact with us at

Check related articles by A Piece of Pie:

How can pharma sales reps harness the power of the digital and deliver more value to HCP’s?

Making Pharma In-Person Sales More Meaningful

Global consultancy that brings meaningful impact through our unique business anthropology and emotionality approach.