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How Medical Sales Reps Can Influence Prescriber Behavior

When new drugs are developed, tested, and placed on the open market, it becomes the job of a medical sales representative to get knowledge of those medications into the hands of physicians. This is most often done by providing simple information about the medication to prescribers.

There are additional methods as well, all of which are necessary in order to get the physician to begin prescribing the medications to qualifying patients. When the physicians begin doing so, this is the perfect situation that all medical sales reps want because it means that their influence paid off.

The Key to Influencing Prescriber Behavior

In order for you to get your job done as a medical sales rep, you need to figure out just how you can influence the physicians and other prescribers that you meet with on a regular basis. Each is different, so you’ll need to have a variety of approaches available to choose from. Customizing your approach is the key to success. After all, your main goal is for all the doctors in your sales network to begin prescribing the medications that you sell.

How can you determine which approach is best? Not only do you need to understand the physicians that you work with, but you also need to get to know them. Make small talk and be friendly. Aggressive sales tactics do not usually work, but smiling and asking questions often do. Networking is another key move. Once you know the physicians better, you can move on to the next steps, which involve doing what you can to spread the word about the company that you represent.

Understanding Physicians

While medical sales reps don’t have to befriend the physicians that are in their areas, they do need to get to know them. In order to meet and exceed their sales quotas, it’s important to know how to approach those doctors. You need to tailor your approaches for each of them in order to be successful. For example, some doctors respond well to small talk, while others prefer samples. Still, others might want simple information about the medications, rather than items that will clutter up their counters. In addition, some prescribers might prefer a mix of these approaches.

How can you fully understand physicians and determine the best ways to coerce them into prescribing the medications that you represent? Start by getting to know them. Ask them questions and find out who their patients are. Talk to their support staff, from the nurses to the schedulers. Before you know it, you’ll have an approach in mind.

Providing Gifts

Gifts are one of the most common methods used by medical sales reps. The AMA Journal of Ethics states that gifts from medical sales reps are permissible, as long as they align with the appropriate guidelines and come with no strings attached.

Whether they are free pens and notepads that feature the company or medication’s name and logo or purchased items that are provided to the whole office, such as pizza lunches, these gifts are definitely appreciated and will get your foot in the door. The number of gifts that you provide, as well as the specific types of gifts themselves, will depend on what’s available to you and whether or not you think that the prescriber will positively respond to them.

Giving Out Drug Samples

Depending on the medication and the rules put into place by the pharmaceutical company, you might be able to provide samples to the physicians on your sales list. These samples provide several different functions. For one, the prescriber can give them to patients that qualify for the new medication. It all depends on the conditions treated by the medication and whether or not the prescribers in question think that it might benefit those patients.

On another hand, these drug samples count as a benefit, or a gift, provided by the medical sales rep. Some physicians depend on these samples not only to help get their patients started on the medication but also so they can provide them to patients whose insurance may not cover it. This creates another layer of patient care, making the prescriber look caring and trustworthy to the patients who see them regularly.

Answering Questions and Giving Out Information

Although most medical sales reps lack the knowledge and credentials to actually prescribe the drugs that they’re selling, they do need to know enough about the medication in order to answer commonly asked questions. There’s a fine line that you need to walk between giving out too much information that you don’t fully understand, which could prevent the doctors from taking the next steps, and reading the data and descriptions provided to you so you can respond to basic inquiries.

Providing medical advice when you aren’t a doctor and merely have some medical knowledge is not the way to go. Remember that the physicians themselves are the experts here. However, you shouldn’t be entirely clueless and not recall which conditions the medication is supposed to treat. Having this level of knowledge is easy and just requires you to read over the information from your employer and ask questions of those in charge so that you’re prepared for when you’re out in the field. The more that you know, the better.

Meeting Your Goals as a Medical Sales Rep

In order to meet any long-term goals that you have for your medical sales career, you need to understand just how much influence you have. As you get to know your clients and work on your sales tactics, whether that involves providing gifts, sharing information, or giving out free samples, you’ll get closer to meeting those goals as your sales begin to soar.

Since medical sales reps earn money in two different ways, from a standard salary and their commissions, it’s important to exceed those goals and do everything possible to maintain a good relationship with the prescribers in your region.