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How to Sell Pharmaceuticals to Doctors: 4 Tips to Teach Your Team

When you invest in thorough training and upskilling for your team, every sales rep under your supervision should know how to sell pharmaceuticals to doctors excellently. But excellence is never achieved without effort. In this case, that effort needs to come from your pharma sales reps and you. 

In a recent Deloitte survey, leaders from pharmaceutical companies shared their perspective on which top challenges will significantly impact their company in the next year. The number one slot went to changing consumer behaviors. 80% of respondents chose changes in consumer attitudes and buying behaviors as having the greatest impact on their company. 

Understandably, doctors’ approaches are shifting. Their patients’ needs are continuing to change in response to the pandemic, and it is easier than ever to get overstressed in the health industry. 

So if clients distrust your reps because they don’t seem to know enough about the pharmaceuticals industry or if they’re too distracted by stressors to focus on the sales pitch, they’re not going to waste their time with your company. 

Teach your pharma reps these four strategies to get doctors to trust them and your company: 

Keep ahead of industry trends

You should already be encouraging your team to keep an eye on industry trends. After all, it’s not a good look if a doctor knows something about the sales rep’s own industry that they’ve never heard about. But that’s the bare minimum. 

To teach your reps how to sell pharmaceuticals to doctors in a way that’ll make them and your company stand out, you need to go beyond merely staying up-to-date. You and your team need to push to be experts in leading innovation. 

If clients hear industry news from your sales reps first, they will recognize that your company is ahead of the competition. Ultimately, your representatives will be who they trust to bring them the best and most current solutions for their patients. 

You can’t force-feed these updates to your reps because there’s no way to guarantee they’ll retain all the information you send out, it wastes your time to put that lengthy email together, and it doesn’t train your team to keep ahead of industry trends on their own. Instead, compile a list of resources like news outlets and research companies for the team to refer to regularly. Remind them to pay particular attention to predictions, expectations, and breakthroughs in pharmaceuticals. 

To get started, suggest pharma news outlets like CafePharma, Fierce Pharma, and Biopharma Dive. Also, remind the team to check in on regularly released research from resources like PwC and SalesForce

Master new technology

New technology is churning out at record speed, and that’s becoming problematic for your pharmaceutical reps. The Deloitte survey revealed that biopharma leaders rank advances in technology as the third most impactful issue they anticipate their company will face in the next year. 

Why is it such an issue? For one, it affects the mentality of the consumers. Reps already face the challenge of catering to how each client best learns and organizes information. On top of that, the clients are overwhelmed by all the information from new systems and technology. For some, this fatigue may mean they’re less willing to learn about and try something new. 

Additionally, your reps may be frustrated by the newly implemented tech at your company. 

For example, you may find that apps like Paperflite and Showcase Workshop are valuable assets for your team. Paperflite is great for moving traditional documents to a digital and easily accessible platform, and Showcase Workshop improves the quality of remote presentations. With platforms like these, clients will love how your company’s processes are so easy and streamlined on their end.

But without proper guidance using them, the apps won’t help the team learn how to sell pharmaceuticals to doctors better. 

You should still make efforts to keep your team abreast of new tech in the industry, update your company’s old systems, and find the best information about sales technology. Just remember to find or create tutorials with resources like Lessonly the moment you introduce new tech. That way, sales reps have enough training to master the latest apps and platforms. 

Know competition inside and out

Yours is not the only pharmaceutical sales company doctors hear from. The various companies and products may eventually blur together in their minds. After all, in pharma, sometimes it is apples to apples. 

That’s why your sales reps need to know exactly how your product could be confused with another. Once your team identifies those details, they will have a better understanding of what to emphasize about what makes your company and product stand out. 

Your client needs to know how your company can provide a product, service, and relationship superior to the competition. And the only way for them to know that with confidence is if your sales reps know it and convince them. 

You can help your team gain this understanding by creating visuals like Venn diagrams that serve as an easy reference guide for competitive comparisons. Also, have your marketing team keep an eye on growing companies and new and updated products from known competitors. Be responsive when employees forward any findings to you, and don’t hesitate to share it with others if it seems relevant. 

Moreover, during group upskilling training on how to sell pharmaceuticals to doctors, drive home what the clients need to know: What is the product? How will it benefit their patients? Will it match their patients’ budgets? What makes it different? And why is it worth getting excited about? 

Practice active listening

More than ever before, doctors and their patients have faced numerous challenges with scheduling appointments, the lockdown of offices and hospitals, and adjusting to virtual health care. 

On top of all that, they’ve also struggled with shortages in supplies and drugs. For instance, the FDA indicates that midazolam injections and fentanyl citrate injections are still unavailable due to their role in treating COVID-19. However, these non-COVID conditions also require these drugs. Midazolam maintains a patient’s comfort while on a ventilator, and fentanyl citrate treats severe pain. 

Most doctors your reps encounter are likely distressed that they can’t guarantee patients will get everything they need for optimal treatment. And because of this heavy burden, they probably don’t want to sit and listen to a pharma rep try to sell a product. 

Rather than rushing in ready to make their pitch, have sales reps practice active listening. This approach will prove to doctors that your company values them as people, not just clients. And it will demonstrate that your representatives are trustworthy and have strong interpersonal skills to maintain a positive relationship with clients. 

There are many ways you can elevate your team’s active listening skills. Building a culture that condemns interrupting, encourages clarifying questions, and giving the speaker appropriate feedback with body language or short affirmations will keep your reps practicing the skill regularly. 

If you’d like to develop a more intentional exercise for your team to try, ask reps to journal summaries of each information-exchanging conversation they have at work for a week. Summarizing on their own helps individuals recognize what details they weren’t paying attention to or which ideas require more clarification for them.


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