Salespeople can attest to the challenges that come with maintaining contact with their customer base during a pandemic. In the case of pharmaceutical representatives, the situation became pretty dire.
While software like Zoom and Excel helped organize physician outreach, reps were still making decisions based on annual or semi-annual data analysis. Combine that with the fact that lockdown orders prevented salespeople from visiting physicians directly, and the leadership team at Toronto startup ODAIA estimates that pharma sales reps lost about 80 per cent of their in-person access to their customer base over the past year.
Orchid Jahanshahi, ODAIA vice-president of commercial life sciences says sales reps in the pharma field have been resistant to change in how they pitch physicians.
“It’s kind of like a B2B play because they’re trying to convince physicians to convince patients. A representative would literally go door to door, clinic to clinic or hospital to hospital in-person to have these discussions and provide information on the product.”
In some cases, she adds, these trips would include samples.
“If they’re calling family physicians, they would usually see upwards of seven or eight physicians per day,” Jahanshahi explained.
It’s unlikely that sales reps in pharma will continue to make those daily visits even with a vaccine rollout underway. That’s where ODAIA’s platforms Maptual comes in. It’s pitched as a platform that can help save time and organize oceans of data to make pharma marketing less of a headache. According to the startup’s CEO Philip Poulidis, ODAIA is already generating revenue and rapidly growing as a company.
“With Maptual, our AI SaaS product for the pharmaceutical industry, we apply our specific domain knowledge: We know how to work with and interpret data sets within the pharmaceutical industry,” Poulidis noted. “And these data sets include everything from prescription transactions to patient support programs. They could also be lab results or CRM data from within the pharmaceutical companies on their commercial and omnichannel activities, perhaps coming from their marketing automation platforms.
ODAIA also collects data sets from third parties as well as population demographic trends that get funnelled into its platform. Any personally identifiable data is stripped away during the process.
Poulidis says ODAIA has engaged with three of the top 10 large global pharmaceutical companies as well as a handful of Canadian customers. ODAIA’s data mining platform is turning heads in other industries as well, which is why the startup has a separate platform targeting Shopify merchants.
Correction: A previous version of this article noted the ODAIA has been engaged with 10 large pharmaceutical companies, however, ODAIA has clarified that they have been engaged with three of the top 10 large global pharmaceutical. Channel Daily News apologizes for the error.