Big pharmaceutical companies have found replacements for the army of sales representatives they've laid off in recent years: digital sales tools that seek to sell doctors on drugs without the intrusion of an office visit
"You can't eat the orange and throw the peel away - a man is not a piece of fruit," says Willy Loman in Act 2 of Death of a Salesman. Today, many pharma sales reps may be feeling like tossed peeled fruit.
eDetailing in one form or another seems to be making a comeback since the recession hit the drug industry in 2007 and 2008 (see chart on right). I'm not really sure which is the "chicken" and which is the "egg"; ie, whether an uptick in adoption of eDetailing technology lead to the recent layoff of pharma reps or if reps were laid off because of the economy and subsequently replaced by machines.
Despite the title of this post, reports of the death of pharma "salesmen" may be somewhat exaggerated and not all sales reps can be replaced by machines.