If we give back a look to the past 10 years, the number of Pharmaceutical Sales Representative as grown significantly (double) but the productivity declined. Something is not adding up and needs to be reviewed getting to the bottom of the issue. The traditional approach to the Market starts form the assumption: to more calls, more Share of Voice, to more sales. In this way a lot of Pharmaceutical Companies build up more lines of Sales Representative promoting the same product to same physicians. The growing commercial impact of the Pharmaceutical Companies has generated a growing “intolerance” of the physicians in regard of the Sales Representative, with the consequence of a radical change in the availability and relationship to Sales Representative. Sometimes today a visit to physician consists of sample or brand remainder delivery! Why? Surely, it is because they don’t see any value in the interaction with Sales Rep. It appears that the “arms race” to increased commercial impact was offset by lower quality. Again, in many Countries, today, the physician has not the power to make prescribing decisions without the input from other stakeholders.
It’s evident that we need the rethink the actual “product-centric” approach to the Market, focused only on efficiency of the Sales Force, to a “customer-centric” one, focused even on effectiveness of the Sales Force. The Sales Rep has to rebuilt up the relationship with customers, these have to recognize Sales Rep like professional able to offer added value to customers.
How?The actual sales model doesn’t answer question like:
Has the physician understood the benefits offered to him or his patients by prescribing the promoted product?
Does the product offered satisfy a need or a goal of the physician?
Is the product being offered relevant to physician’s practice? Sometimes Rep calls on physicians they do not even prescribe more in the category the rep is calling, only because the targeting tools are suggesting them like high potential customers.
Are the Sales Reps sending the message with the appropriate influencing behaviour? There is an increasing trend of sample delivery without seeing the physician involved. Good relationship between Sales Rep and physicians are vital and must be gained by adequate feedbacks during the call.
Sales effectiveness is focused on productivity, looking at the impact of behaviours of prescribing, impact of each interaction, content requirements of each interaction for improved financial return from the Sales activity.
In this way a commitment to put the customer at the centre of every decision is a must today. The willingness to learn and to adapt the professionalism to the need of the Market is an imperative today because the Companies unable or unwilling to change may find themselves left behind.
By a friend: Michael Cristino - International Sales Force Advisor from a Multinational Pharmaceutical Company