Peter Hyde, Managing Director at Alveo Solutions, looks at the common myths and deciphers the reality of remote sales solutions.
The industry is increasingly adopting remote sales solutions as cost effective methods of interacting with healthcare professionals, either as standalone projects or part of a wider marketing mix. Many companies are keen to engage remotely and embrace the modern digital way of doing business. Alveo Solutions is often consulted in designing multichannel solutions, a capability that is frequently outsourced. We’ve learned from our extensive experience that there are some common misconceptions regarding the approach of remote selling, so we would like to dispel some of the myths.
“The willingness of a customer to engage through a channel is very much dependent on the complexity of the proposition”
Remote sales solutions work for all
We sometimes encounter customers who don’t believe that remote solutions deliver because they’ve had a negative experience in terms of outcomes; this can be down to the value proposition attractiveness itself, but more often than not, it’s because of the unsuitability of the value proposition for remote engagement. We believe in a channel neutral approach to solution design, i.e. let’s not try to fit a remote solution to everything; we need to build solutions that utilise the right channels at the right time. We call this the opti-channel approach; we urge customers to consider the suitability of the proposition using our opti-channel matrix. Whether you’re designing a standalone solution, or an element of a multichannel mix, it’s important to identify the optimum channel through which to engage.
Channel preference data
The remote accessibility of certain customer groups varies enormously; GPs for example are notoriously difficult to access on the phone, whereas access to other primary care stakeholders is comparatively easier. That said, the idea of channel preference as a standalone concept is essentially flawed; this is because channel preference is proposition dependent. The willingness of a customer to engage through a channel is very much dependent on the complexity of the proposition and in some cases, the attractiveness of the proposition. This is the same as our private lives; in the last week I’ve purchased some items online, some on the phone, and went into a store to buy a new bed – so what does that make my channel preference?
Remote salespeople are lower calibre salespeople
Remote sales can be a cost-effective solution for various reasons, but this doesn’t mean the calibre of those delivering these solutions is any lower than a face-to-face salesperson. Some effective face-to-face salespeople are not that effective on the phone and some are actually ‘call reluctant’. We proactively search out high performers in their current roles and put them through a tough selection process to assess their suitability for both remote interactions and face-to-face engagement, depending on the team we are building. Too often, poor performing ‘nomadic representatives’ see remote job roles as a stepping stone to future roles. This is not a great fit, and it’s our responsibility to ensure those people don’t end up delivering remote solutions for the wrong reason!
“This is a primary care solution delivering a compelling value proposition to practice managers and nurses with a mature brand”
Getting it right
This is a primary care solution (Figure 1.) delivering a compelling value proposition to practice managers and nurses with a mature brand. These customers, I would suggest, have no automatic pre-disposed channel preference, but are willing to engage remotely because of the proposition suitability. We worked collaboratively with the client to perfect the value proposition and have engineered the solution through the optimum channel using a small team of high calibre, remote salespeople.
This ongoing project delivered an uplift in excess of £1 million in the first two years;
a very different outcome to that delivered by a traditional 40 head syndicated team over the previous 12 months.
This a great example of what happens when you get it right – the right team delivering a perfected value proposition through the right channel.
Peter Hyde is Managing Director, Alveo Solutions. Go to www.alveosolutions.com