Revolutionizing the Pharma Sales Pitch

Tuesday, January 17, 2012 | Category :

By Alan Gentry

Gone are the days when pharma sales reps approach Health Care Providers (HCPs) with rehearsed and persistent sales pitches in order to drive prescription sales. Economic factors, an overabundance of reps calling on HCPs, and regulatory changes have forced the pharma industry to take a close look at the way they currently sell. Leading industry players are finding ways to soften their approach and are adopting business-to-business sales techniques that significantly alter the way Pharma reps interact with HCPs.

To understand why Pharma companies are transforming the way they sell, it’s helpful to walk through the four-step journey that brought them there.

  1. New Options: HCPs have always shown interest in new options to treat their patients. When a new drug comes onto the market, HCPs want to learn more about the treatment options it provides. Salespeople have focused on “detailing” their products, leaving starter kits and developing relationships with their physicians. Today, fewer new options are becoming available.
  2. More Education: Once HCPs become familiar with new options, they realize that they need more education about these products, the patients best-treated with the products, and, possibly, the related disease state. With fewer options available, sales reps that remain locked into this education phase are challenged to bring additional value to their customers and companies and transition their conversations into the next phase.
  3. Better Patient Outcomes: In the third phase, HCPs understand their options and are thoroughly educated, but they want help applying treatment options and solutions to drive better outcomes for their patients. To be successful, reps must fully understand the HCP’s desired patient outcomes. This requires two unique new selling skills: a high level of customer understanding, and an ability to ask questions that clarify the outcomes the HCP seeks. The knowledge gained allows the reps to position their products and solutions in new ways that help the HCP achieve desired patient outcomes.
  4. Better HCP Outcomes: The fourth phase builds off the third phase. The rep must fully understand the HCP’s practice, business goals and priorities. With this deeper knowledge of what the HCP cares about, reps are able to work with marketing and sales operations to uncover the solutions of tomorrow. Successes in the third and fourth phases will lead to more enhanced relationships. Reps will now be viewed as valuable resources for their HCPs, helping achieve desired patient and practice outcomes even as they drive their own sales results.

There’s a significant shift in the pharma sales model and in order to stay on top, sales reps must focus on the needs of the HCP and act as a valued partner. A recent article in the Wall Street Journal, Drug Reps Soften Their Sales Pitches , notes that physicians have even less time for sales reps as they face more pressure to fit patients into their schedule and offset cost control efforts imposed by health plans. Change is imminent and sales reps must find new ways to add value and build credibility to stay in front of HCPs.

So, what’s next? How can your company change the HCPs’ view of a salesperson from “someone who pitches” to “someone who helps them get results”? Learn how BTS’s experiential learning and business simulation programs successfully accelerate sales transformations for today’s leading companies.

About the Author: Alan Gentry is a Director at BTS.

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