Pharmaceutical Sales: Remote Detailing and eDetailing


Before the global pandemic, the average pharmaceutical sales rep did most of their selling in person. However, as sales have shifted to remote approaches, remote detailing and edetailing have become extremely popular.

What is Remote Detailing?

Remote detailing is the process of selling pharmaceuticals to medical professionals remotely.

The approach increased in importance with the rise of the Covid pandemic but has been an essential part of pharmaceutical sales for a long time.

What is eDetailing?

Edetailing, like remote detailing, involves making sales remotely but generally refers to selling educational materials instead of pharmaceutical drugs.

Before we continue, let’s review some typical roles in medical sales.

What is an MSL?

An MSL is a medical science liaison. Their job is to develop and maintain relationships with key opinion leaders (KOLs) in various therapeutic areas.

MSLs can be very influential because they often have access to physicians who decide which medications should be prescribed.

What is a CPL?

A CPL is a clinical practice leader. They work closely with primary care physicians and other healthcare providers to ensure that patients receive appropriate treatment.

CPLs also help physicians understand how new treatments compare to existing ones.

What is a CSL?

A CSL, or clinical science liaison, is responsible for understanding their customers’ scientific and medical needs.

Both roles are essential in remote detailing and edetailing, supporting reps as they move through the sales journey.

What are KOLs?

KOLs are key opinion leaders (KOLs) – medical professionals respected for their knowledge and expertise in a particular therapeutic area.

Why are KOLs important for your pharmaceutical sales and marketing efforts?

KOLs can significantly influence the decision-making process of other medical professionals. By developing relationships with KOLs, pharmaceutical companies can better understand the needs of their target market and create more targeted sales and marketing initiatives.

How to get into pharmaceutical sales

Pharmaceutical representatives work in a complex field and generally have a higher level of requirements than for other sales roles.

Some companies may prefer pharmaceutical sales prospects to have a master’s degree or higher. A degree in pharmacology can be precious.

In addition, some will require, or at least expect it as you move forward in your career:

  • Previous experience in the pharmaceutical industry (e.g., health care professionals, medical professionals, and similar roles).
  • Ongoing education at industry events and training sessions at an accredited institution.
  • Existing knowledge of, or the ability to rapidly learn medical terminology.

The rapidly advancing pharmaceutical industry will require these scientific skills, outstanding communication skills, and a hunger for ongoing learning.

How do Pharma Reps Spend Their Days?

Pharmaceutical sales representatives spend their days chasing down health care providers, visiting medical practices, physicians’ offices, and labs.

These sales reps understand they are in a competitive industry and must invest time building a deeper understanding of their company’s product lines, other drugs they are competing with, and potential interactions between various drugs.

Pharma reps also manage and distribute free samples, patient starter kits, and other marketing materials as they make their daily physician visits.

Pros and Cons of Remote Pharmaceutical Sales

Whether we are discussing remote detailing or edetailing, there are many pros and cons. Let’s start with the benefits.

  • Remote detailing is far more effective. Instead of traveling from lab to lab or between doctor’s offices, the pharmaceutical sales rep can go from one remote meeting to another without delay.
  • eDetailing is cheaper with no travel costs involved.
  • Remote detailing is more flexible for buyers. Medical professionals are often tricky to catch between patients, lab work, surgeries, etc.
  • Reps can deliver richer experiences via remote technology (most of the time). Visiting labs in the basement of a building often mean low-to-no internet access, having pharma sellers use paper printouts and brochures vs. more advanced technology solutions.

The cons of this approach include:

  • For some buyers, technology-based, remote sales are new and uncomfortable.
  • Relationships are more challenging to build remotely, and pharma sales depend on solid relationships between sellers and buyers.

Best practices for Remote Pharmaceutical Sales

To be successful with remote detailing and edetailing, remember that:

  • Practice makes perfect. Practice remote selling with peers and coaches. Body language and facial expressions can be interpreted differently when delivered through a Zoom meeting. Practice.
  • You must pull in support staff easily (e.g., MSLs, CSLs), ensure that you have access to teammates, and quickly pull them into your remote meetings.
  • Don’t go cheap on the technology. Computer and networking horsepower are your friends.
  • Regarding the last point, don’t deliver a remote detailing session from your local coffee shop. Be in the office on reliable, high-quality networks.
  • Use remote meeting platforms(see Saleshood and Pitcher below) that allow you to share your screen quickly, show PowerPoint presentations, and provide a great user experience for buyers.
  • Be sure to have remote printouts and leave-behinds for buyers – in case of technical difficulties.
  • Ensure that you can easily show the latest clinical data ready to present.
  • Have a plan for what happens if you get disconnected during a call.

Recommended Tools

Companies with more than 300 employees should evaluate these tools; they are top-of-the-line for edetailing.


Pitcher Logo
Saleshood Logo


Companies with fewer than 300 employees should consider a mix of the following products.

For Knowledge, Process, and Training Teams
Trainual Logo

Trainual is a cost-effective solution for businesses seeking to create a repeatable and scalable model for all employees–critical for compliance-driven industries.


Pharmaceutical Sales vs. Medical Device Sales (video)



Final thoughts

Pharmaceutical sales reps have a challenging job. Not only do they need to be great salespeople, but they also need to be subject matter experts for complex pharmaceutical products.

Remote sales add another level of challenges, and we hope this article provides advice that helps you be more successful.

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