For many reasons, sales in the medical industry is quite different from sales in other fields. For starters, sales representatives have to market their products to doctors at clinics or hospitals. This process of selling products to organizational and industrial product buyers for resale, use in manufacturing, or use in their businesses is called "industrial" selling. In this case, it’s the sales of products to doctors who will in turn prescribe them to their patients.
These medical professionals are also more knowledgeable in their field than most agents. Ronan Martin, a digital marketing strategist, interviewed a pharmaceutical sales manager for his blog. As the interviewee said, raw talents and abilities are more critical than a pleasing personality, as an excellent medical rep should be able to explain product features and benefits. This is what doctors are looking for to determine how beneficial the medications are to their patients.
Additionally, sales in the pharma industry is a repetitive cycle, not a linear one, as said by the interviewee. The medical rep isn’t trying to convince the customer (the doctor) to prescribe their products a certain number of times but to do so continuously. They need to build a long-lasting relationship with them.
Medical or pharmaceutical sales representatives must be equipped with the necessary skills to form and maintain a good relationship with clients. They should also know techniques to succeed in their sales careers.
Here are the best practices for salespeople in the medical/pharma industry.
Develop a Client-focused Approach
When selling products and medications to doctors, keep in mind that while your goal is to close a deal, their top priority is to provide what their patients need. It helps that you show interest in the practice and issues that doctors face to set you apart from your competitors.
Dumping a lot of information in one go isn’t ideal. Get to know what the doctors and their patients need. You need to establish a rapport with your client to make them comfortable discussing their practice with you. This is vital as your goal is not only to sell to them once or twice but to ensure that the doctors will prescribe your products in the long run.
Repsly also advised the sales rep to skip lunch, but not for dieting. You can try catching up with your clients during this time since, to some, lunch will be the only free time they have. Be sure to prepare value-driven topics to catch their interest. This is also an excellent way to maintain your relationship with clients you’ve already spoken to before.
Focus on Building a Good Relationship
Once you’ve built the needed relationship with a client, the next challenge is to maintain a good one. Or better yet, improve it. During the early phases of the relationship, doctors will be highly apprehensive that you will hold true to your promises, treat them with respect, and make them feel valued.
It was stated in an IQVIA article that the Harvard Business Review found that building trust, being consistent, and having good judgment form positive relationships. You must keep communication lines strong and show your clients that they can count on you to respond to them. Practitioners prefer salespeople who are easiest to work with. All other factors in your products, such as the pricing and quality, are out of your control. But if you are available to meet their needs and respond to their inquiries, you’ll surely stand out among the rest.
During busy seasons or if you still don’t have a solid answer to a question when a client reaches out, let them know that you will get back to them as soon as possible. Repsly suggests allocating a specific time of the day solely for client communication, preferably in the morning. It could only be an hour of responding to texts and emails, but it will help you keep your mind off them throughout the day as you focus on your other daily tasks.
Know Your Products Inside and Out
Take ample time to learn everything there is to know about your products. The practitioners you’re going to face are masters of the field. Some products are designed to treat certain complicated medical conditions, making the product complex itself. It’s vital that you can provide them with accurate information and answer all of their inquiries. Be well-versed in each product’s advantages and disadvantages.
There will be times that you’ll have to meet up with potential clients multiple times, especially those who might need more time to be convinced to try something you are selling. Nothing would irritate them more than hearing old and repeated information again. Instead, highlight a unique feature or a new advancements in your products..
It’s a given that salespeople already know how to talk shop, but you should also be fluent in speaking the language of evidence-based medicine. According to Richardson Sales Performance, the most decisive influence on customers’ buying decisions is evidence-based medicine (EBM). You should have all the latest data about your products, such as results of previous experiments and the like. This increases the value and credibility your products hold compared to others.
Make the Patient Your Priority
Although you’re selling directly to practitioners, these medical health workers aren’t your product's end-users.The patients should be your priority and the primary influence of your selling point.
Doctors appreciate sales reps willing to go the extra mile to convey commitment and concern to patients. In selling products, always keep the patient in mind as this will show in how you present to the doctors. Highlight how they help the patient rather than just speeding up things to close the deal.
Some pharmaceutical companies provide patient education material. If your company does this, soak up as much as you can. This will help you connect your product and the patients since they are affected by your products, be it a new medicine or a new medical tool. You can also engage in solution-centric conversations with your clients. Solution-centric conversations entail focusing on discovery, collaboration, and solution development.
Maximize Cutting-edge Technology
In the modern day we live in, technology is used everywhere, even in pharmaceutical companies. Medical sales reps are equipped with tablets, iPads, laptops, and other technological advances that can be used differently. However, these aren’t being utilized to their full potential.
Gone are the days of printing graphics containing data and other product information. You can use your devices to make your presentation interesting, such as showing a 90-second to two-minute video. This will catch the attention of your clients. Video and PowerPoint presentations are known to be quite engaging compared to just simply talking to your clients.
According to Viseven’s research, 35% of salespeople spend time preparing presentation materials, and 33% of these couldn’t find the material they needed. When you spend your time looking and prepping for a presentation, less time and effort is given to the actual presentation of products. An interactive and updated presentation is one of the keys to closing a successful deal with your client.
Follow Through with Commitments
Life in the retail world is fast paced, especially in the medical industry. It’s easy to lose track of your promises or commitments; however, one mishap will affect your prospects’ decisions and impression of you. There are many ways to ensure that you’re on track, but you need to create a system that works best for you.
Write things down if that's how you remember and work best.. You can jot your notes using a traditional planner or notepad while discussing with your client. If you’re techier, you can also maximize your gadgets’ notes and reminders applications for keeping important dates and information. Dozens of mobile apps can be integrated with alarm and calendar apps.
Repsly suggests using Evernote, known for its user-friendly checklists and organization system. Suppose you’re an iPhone or iPad user. In that case, you can also maximize the built-in Reminders app with its integration of AI Siri, which means you can simply dictate reminders while driving or doing something else. Besides these two, other promising systems can assist you in sorting notes and generally keeping track of your schedule.
Never Give Up on Offices That Decline Salespeople
There are clinics, hospitals, and other medical offices that make it a rule not to entertain salespeople. You can skip them for now but still show interest in making them your partner. Secure their contact number and call them once in a while when you’re in the area, even when you’re not actively selling them something.
Don’t remove them entirely from your pipeline, as they can still be potential customers. Keep in mind that offices change their minds once in a while. When you make yourself available to them to contact, they’ll keep you first in their minds, which means it will secure the first-move advantage when they eventually start seeing sales reps.
Prepare for the Negative Comments
Even outside the medical field, salespeople should be ready for negative comments thrown out by clients. It’s normal for them to be skeptical of your products when they haven’t tried them yet. They will also not hesitate to express their negative experiences. You should be open to all of these as part of the sales process.
It may be uncomfortable to face unsatisfied customers, but your reaction and response to them will define how your relationship will go moving forward. It’s important to let them talk without interruptions, even if you have the perfect answer to counter their objections. It will make the clients feel valued and cared for since their concerns are heard.
Before moving forward, be sure that you perfectly understand their concerns to address them properly. If there are parts you’re unsure of, ask questions to clarify. If you can immediately provide the solution, then do so. If it’s beyond your control, tap someone who can cater to it and assure your client that you’re staying on top of the problem. After the incident, don’t forget to reach out to them to ensure that their problem is already resolved.
In addition to preparing for negative feedback, you also need to accept that you can’t close all of your deals. Loss of sales is inevitable, and it’s not a reflection of how skilled you are as a medical sales rep; it’s simply part of the job. Rather than dwelling on the feeling of rejection, learn from it. Callbox suggests identifying where you went wrong, improving what needs to be changed, and working on a fool-proof pitch for the next client.
Medical retail is different from mainstream sales. It’s difficult enough to schedule an appointment with the primary decision-maker, how much more convincing them to say yes? It requires a lot of time and effort to do so. Knowing this, medical sales representatives must follow certain practices to succeed in selling their products.
In dealing with practitioners, ensure that you express genuine concern for their patients who are ultimately the end-users of your products. Use the latest technology to present up-to-date data and valuable evidence that shows how your products can help your clients’ patients. Doing this enables you to stand apart from the pack and build rapport with your client. Building relationships is a must for medical sales, so you should take advantage of any chance you have at improving your relationship with them professionally.
Sales in the medical or pharmaceutical field is a difficult feat. The industry itself is constantly evolving, and you need to adapt to these changes to keep up with the competition. This also includes talking to professionals who are more knowledgeable in the field than you are. It’s vital that as a medical sales rep, you are prepared and well-equipped with skills, personality, and product knowledge altogether.