So Frank Dolan (you might know him as @pharma411 and despite the fact that we’ve never met I will refer to in an informal manner) posted a study he did of how HCPs view reps.

First off, points to anyone who does a study. They are tough to do and tougher to do well. This one is very nice and gets to the points very quickly and I agree with the conclusions. The gist is that HCPs are happy to spend more time with the 30% of reps who they perceive as “high value.”

What does high value mean? It means they are reps who understand the product, understand the disease state, and understand the “practice of medicine.”  They ask the HCP questions to further their knowledge of the HCP and their practice and don’t give off the sense that they are going through the motions to meet their sales-call quota.

Fun fact: While most HCPs plan to have a tablet in their practice in the next year, most HCPs felt like a tablet added no value to the interaction with the rep. Now, since I work at a company who like to make apps for pharma companies to help them get more out of their sales forces, so this sounds like bad news. But it isn’t. In fact, it’s pretty good news because it conforms to an idea we’ve had for a while now (and many other agree): it’s not the tech that makes a good sales call, it’s a good rep who makes a good sales call. But a technology can make a decent rep better.

But that’s just a side note. Let’s talk about the real point here: HCPs don’t value tech and sexy/shiny/new as much as they value value. Yeah, despite being an awkward sentence to write, it’s true. So let’s talk about what value is.

Since we’re marketers, we’ve all taken calculus and we remember… wait, the reason you got into marketing is so you could avoid math? Okay, we’ll keep this simple. Value is a simple equation: Useful content divided by time. If I gave you great content but I took a week to do it, it’s not high value. If I gave you worthless content but gave it to you quickly, it’s not high value.

We all know HCPs want and need great content, so I assume you’re all working on great content as much as we are (if not, step up your game). The next step is to figure out how to compress understanding into less and less time and space. I don’t actually want the rep to take up 10 minutes of the HCP’s time, but if the rep has ten minutes of content, there you go. But if we can use technology (tablets and such), content strategies and comprehension strategies to take ten minutes of content and shrink it to five without losing any comprehension, guess who has increased value?

So in answer to the first question: What do HCPs want? They want time. It’s the only thing they can’t make more of and survey after survey stresses the underlying problem of not having enough time to learn and read everything they want.

So maybe we all need to stop figuring how to get rep software onto the iPad and figure out how to use the iPad to speed communication and comprehension.

So bring the fight. Comments on Twitter get replies and that increases both our Klout scores and make us look like we’re doing real work.