With the increasing digitalization of the pharmaceutical industry, it’s no surprise that virtual interactions have come as a welcome novelty for the industry. For a long time, physical interactions were an integral part of communication in the field. However, the pandemic kicked in, bringing with it changes to pharma’s established paradigm.
Virtual interactions are, oftentimes, a preferred reality. Nonetheless, these present certain obstacles to establishing human connections with stakeholders. Whether it is eye contact or engagement, you need to prepare for a tough audience.
So, we are sharing with you 3 ways to break the barriers of virtual interactions.
What are virtual interactions and what do they include?
One of the buzzwords of the last few years has been “virtual” – virtual classes, virtual conferences, virtual reality…Above all, the pharmaceutical industry has been all about virtual interactions.
Interactions between people via a digital online platform are referred to as virtual interactions. Either written or spoken, these happen at different levels of acquaintance, taking place on:
- Virtual meetings; and
- Virtual conferences…
These interactions are vital to maintaining stakeholder engagement. Perse, to ensure it is an active participant in its buyer journey. Allowing for customization and ongoing support. Additionally, virtual interactions offer the advantage of flexibility.
Through them, you can:
- Break language and cultural barriers, by bringing different people together;
- Break time-zone barriers and work around them to make it convenient for the interested party;
- Get insightful data on your stakeholders and their preferences and interests.
Why should you bet on virtual interactions?
Virtual interactions have been highly valued, especially after the pandemic. COVID imposed social distancing on populations and pharmaceutical professionals alike. In fact, 75% of participants in a Global Data poll showed a belief in virtual interactions, that is to remain in the post-COVID world.
Sales reps are now having to adapt to new forms of communication. This is putting most professionals face-to-face with the biggest challenges of virtual interactions. Lack of humanity and engagement.
What can you do to overcome challenges in virtual settings?
1 – Meet in small groups
Virtual interactions display many advantages. Nonetheless, engagement is one of the most common obstacles challenging its effectiveness. As it maximizes cost-effectiveness and reaches its goals, it lags, on the other hand, in creating a dynamic relationship with the stakeholder.
So, what can one do?
Virtual interactions are distinguished by large-scale conferences and presentations with the exception of virtual meetings with sales reps. The latter are formally held between 2 people or smaller groups.
This environment is one that does not provide stakeholders with the “needed space” that fosters free interaction and communication. Following this line of thought, shortening your virtual meeting groups is the way to go.
“the ability to meet in smaller groups [is] very effective… If all parties are engaged, it will mimic an in-person meeting.” – Dr. Paul Feuerstadt, Assistant Clinical Professor of Medicine at Yale-New Haven Hospital (Reuters)
When you make your meeting group smaller you allow room for:
- Sharing of experiences and perspectives;
- Greater participation from attendees.
In this way, you increase engagement and become more “human” in the eyes of the attendees. As you create eye contact and establish direct dialogue, you break the wall. Thus, connecting with your attendees more easily.
2 – Use breakout rooms
Group size is important. You want stakeholders to not only establish meaningful interactions with you but also between themselves. When the creation of smaller groups is not possible, there are other solutions you can consider. For example, you can make use of breakout rooms.
Voices can get lost in large groups and breakout rooms can help you mitigate that. By making them part of a section of your virtual meeting, you pave the way for networking possibilities. As a consequence, you are able to witness a substantial increase in engagement.
The possibilities of breakout rooms will depend on the platforms you choose to use. For example, Zoom, Google Meet, and Microsoft Teams are digital platforms that already include this feature. You, as the host, have the control over the created groups and the time you want them to be in the breakout rooms.
Overall, through breakout rooms, you make attendees more accountable for sharing their ideas. While you give them the opportunity to bring forward themes not addressed in the wider presentation.
3 – Make your stakeholder an active participant
If you make your virtual meetings smaller, you allow the stakeholder to be an active participant. Yet, there are other ways in which you can do this – increase engagement and maximize dynamics.
So, how can you make your stakeholder an active participant? You first need to think of its interests and the ways in which it consumes information. Think of the preferred channels for obtaining health-related information.
More HCPs are now digital natives. Professionals who have incorporated, in their work, online tools to help them respond to the growing demands in the industry. In fact, most physicians are now believed to be 3-screen users. In 2015, 92% of Americans reported using a desktop or laptop computer, 66% a smartphone, and 42% a tablet (Healthcasts).
Adding to this, present-day society has a very short attention span (only 8 seconds). And so, video has become one of the most preferred tools used both by marketers and users. These value the format’s quickness and information-packed value. For that reason, viewers retain 95% of the content conveyed via video.
In fact, there are different ways in which you can make your stakeholders more active in your virtual interactions.
What can you use to engage participants in virtual interactions?
- Explainer videos. Including them in your presentations will increase engagement and attention to the content you intend to convey. It will further aid you in sharing insightful complex data on your product in an easy manner.
- Interactive graphs. Adding them to your virtual interactions will allow you to give the attendees an opportunity to have a visual understanding of your work and the performance of your product. It leads not only to greater engagement but also to a generation of new leads and prospective customers.
- AR and VR. Indeed, augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) are growing trends in the field. They have heightened the potential of virtual interactions. By imprinting virtual information in reality, it allows you and your attendees, at the same time, to experience the information or mechanism you want to illustrate.
- Q&A sessions. With big amounts of information come doubts and poignant questions. The answer to these can influence your stakeholders’ positioning towards your brand. Q&A sessions are quite effective in small groups. After all, people feel more comfortable sharing their ideas and are compelled to interact.
Want to make your virtual interactions more dynamic?
PubVisuals will turn your virtual interactions into memorable experiences. Complex information and data are translated into a 90-second, easy-to-understand video that will increase stakeholders’ engagement. Book your free demo to learn more about it.