The current opioid crisis in the U.S. is a delicate subject for the pharmaceutical sales industry. Patients, doctors, and sales reps, alike, didn’t truly anticipate the negative impact of increased opioid prescription sales.
It was this lack of education that led to an addiction epidemic and a lack of trust in pharmaceutical sales reps.
In fact, our recent report found that 94 percent of sales reps agree that a lack of proper education hurts their sales. To turn things around, pharmaceutical sales reps need to rethink their sales strategy.
Rather than trying to sell your product to as many people as possible, it’s more important to focus on selling the right drug to the right customer. In the long-run, prioritizing will lead to increased sales.
Here are three steps to refocusing your sales strategy on education:
1. Have a ‘no sale’ day
As a pharma sales rep, it seems unnatural to spend an entire day not selling. But remember, sales is just one part of your job. You also need to be up-to-date with product information and maintain strong relationships with your customer base.
Many reps try to learn this information by cramming in between sales meetings. However, this isn’t the best way to process and retain information. It’s better to sit in a quiet room to go over customer data and your meeting notes from the week.
Also, make a list of deeper information you could use to better understand the needs of patients and customers. What side effects concern them? Are they worried about negative interactions with other drugs? Is the cost of your product burdening them financially?
Preparing these questions will help you learn what pieces of information to add to your education strategy.
2. Do your research
Sometimes, patients and doctors need information not found in your sales material. They could have hard-hitting questions about the downside of your product. It’s also natural for them to want an honest analysis of competing products.
You could leave them to research these answers, but it will build a stronger relationship if you do it for them. Plus, this will allow you to put the information into a context that still highlights the benefits of your products.
It’s also a good idea for you to keep a list of outside, objective resources to provide patients and doctors.
For example, if you sell a drug that treats Type 2 diabetes, educate yourself on all aspects of the disease. Then, when you come across a great article or research report, you can pass it along. Even if the content has nothing to do with your drug, it provides a more in-depth educational experience that customers will appreciate.
3. Admit when your product isn’t right
No matter how great your product is, it’s not the right choice for every patient. There might be other drugs that better fit their needs and treatment plans. A great pharmaceutical rep needs to recognize this. Otherwise, you’re pushing unnecessary drugs onto patients and, ultimately, degrading trust.
If your company has another option that is right for the patient, great. Pass along the information of the sales rep who covers that account and let them know the rep will be in touch. This is still a sale and a win for your company.
However, the best product might be from another pharma organization. Put the needs of the patient first and tell them about that option. In this instance, it will take their business elsewhere. But it will cement your relationship with the customer. And if in the future you do have a product for them, they’ll be more willing to buy.
Knowledge is power, especially when it comes to pharmaceutical sales. It’s your responsibility to be up-to-date on all the facts so you can pass them along to doctors and patients. This way, you can be seen as a reputable rep — leading to more sales in the long-run.
What are some other ways to overcome the education barrier? Share in the comments.