Drug Rep Time

How to succeed in Pharmaceutical Sales.

Sound bites.

These days the media (TV, newspapers, radio, Internet) has such a powerful influence on the audience that we all are programmed to receive and to process information in so called sound bites. Nobody has time and patience to spread thin over almost any topic unless it is vital. It’s not a secret for you that rarely any of your sales messages are vital for your doctors. Unless you say something along the lines that XYZ has been shown to cause heart attacks or cancers, or was found to be terratogenic in pregnancy, or caused medical malpractice litigations, all of which will kill your sales anyway, the rest of your messages has a slim chance to penetrate into the gut of your doctors. If you want to be paid attention to your messages have to become similar in the way they are formulated to the way the media formulates theirs. You have to learn how to create catchy phrases or sound bites, tag lines, analogies in order to be heard and to be interesting. Open MSN or Yahoo to see great examples of these sound bites: “10 things never to say at work place..”, “Does its size really matter…”, “Want better sex? Give it up for a month..”, “ADHD:how to know if you’ve got it..”, ” What she really wants from you..”. Most of the time there is nothing fascinating behind these bites once you read the content. But the idea is to make you click and learn more. We’ll talk more about this topic. For now, try to read, watch and listen to the news and observe your own reaction to those sound bites. See what moves you. See what triggers your interest and start thinking in terms of what you can say that would make your doc turn his head to listen.


January 29, 2008 Posted by | Marketing and Sales strategies | , , | 1 Comment

Dig it from them.

I would like to suggest a very powerful exercise that will open your eyes on what you need to do to increase your sales. It’s very simple. Take one week to do it and by the end of the week you will discover things about your product that even your company doesn’t know. Here is what you need to do. Each of your products has a core message or USP (unique selling proposition). Your companies provide you with them. It shouldn’t be longer than one or two sentences. I want you to force yourself and say it every time you interact with your doctors this week. Just open your mouth and say it. Right after that you will need to look him right in the eye and ask: ” Is this how you think about my product?” Notice , you are not asking them what they think about your product. In your everyday routine most of you do just that. Conversely, you are asking them if their opinion about your product matches your USP. If you do it the right way, you will get tons of precious information out of that: opinions, doubts, skepticism, different views. Most importantly you will learn if they are bonded with your core message. Dig it from them. If you think you know what they think you are wrong! Assume nothing-ASK.

Let me know if this exercise worked for you.

January 27, 2008 Posted by | Marketing and Sales strategies, Your brand message | , , , | 2 Comments

Change your patterns.

Most of the reps set certain patterns of behavior in their doctors’ offices, get comfortable with them and are reluctant to change. Some of you would rather circulate through the same offices and avoid tough targets. If your strategies bring you consistent  growth of sales, you are fine. Whether you come in and talk about yourself, your life, dating, cars, movies, real estate, cool stuff, or simply leave samples and ask for signatures, or whether you present yourself as a tired, unsure of the future, struggling with your manager, stuck with a tough to sell product person, so long your doctors listen and consistently deliver, you are good to go. It is much easier to follow the same routine of getting signatures and leaving than to actually do something different every the time. By now we discussed multiple topics and even if you haven’t read all the posts you still should be able to feel that what I am calling for is innovation and creativity. Grow uncomfortable with your routine and yourself and start working on changes. What areas should you change first? Is it how you get your doctors’ attention? Is it how you formulate and deliver your key message? Is it how you brand yourself or your product? Is it how you set up buying criterias? Is it your mastery of reading their minds? Is it improving your sales techniques? Is it your energy level? I don’t know the answer to these questions. All I know is that change is not always easy but ALWAYS POSSIBLE.

January 24, 2008 Posted by | Marketing and Sales strategies | , , | 2 Comments

Recent CafePharma talk. Are we getting ready for Clinton’s universal health care?

Doctor Dave,
Who , in your opinion, is the most Pharma friendly presidential candidate? And who is the least friendly one?
Thank you . Doctor Max
Take this with a huge grain of salt, as I am not an expert. This is my humble opinion. Of the two so-called major parties:Most pharma friendly: Guiliani
Least pharma friendly: EdwardsThat said, I’m skeptical that either are truly contenders for President. In terms of the other candidates from these two parties (Obama, McCain, Clinton, Huckabee, Romney), I’m not convinced that there is really THAT much difference in terms of pharma’s interests.But once again, I am no expert, so I’m looking forward to hearing your opinions and the rationale behind them.

Respectfully, Dave
The short answer: I don’t know.
Conventional thinking is that republicans are Pharma and doctors friendly. But has it helped?
Just a quick look at the outcomes of the last few years of the republican reign indicates some evil trends for both the pharmaceutical industry and the doctors. There is an active war for redistribution of wealth and influence. Parties ( HMOs, PBMs, bureaucracy, lawyers, etc) that produce nothing but panic and fear in public, and invest nowhere but in our demise seem to be putting everyone else on the knees. Public opinion, well manipulated by mass media, is growing against the cause of all problems in life – big Pharma. The only other industry that is made look as bad is Big Oil.
Forget about years of R&D, forget about taking risks of investing billions in hope, forget about cure for cardiovascular diseases, cancers and such. The public chooses to think that it’s all done “for the money”. And hence the foundation of the free market is questioned on the example of Pharma.
Those candidates who blame rich, successfully capitalize on the public opinion. They call for fairness but mean socialism. Even though I am not impressed with the outcomes of the GOP era, I believe that Clinton, Edwards, Obama will be more aggressive in redistribution of wealth and power. Of the republicans Romney and Giuliani are likely to be less hungry to take away from Pharma.
CafePharma forum, posted by Doctor Max.  http://www.cafepharma.com/boards/showthread.php?t=249245

January 23, 2008 Posted by | Debates | , , | Leave a comment

Price matters. Knowing it matters even more.

Time after time I see that you do not know retail prices of your products. These are three typical answers to the price question: 1. I am not sure but, doctor, do you have a lot of cash paying patients? ( yes, I do). 2. Depends on the pharmacy (give me the range). 3. The wholesale price is…. ( who cares?). The presence of the third party payers (health insurances) makes you feel that the doctors do not care to know what their patients pay for treatment. In some cases you are right, they don’t. But interestingly, those docs who don’t care won’t ask you that question. So whenever you hear a doctor asking you, consider that she/he does care. Your vague and frequently wrong answers take away from your trustworthiness. Why don’t you find out 5 top pharmacies that your doctor’s patients fill their scripts at and call to get you products’ prices. You will look very professional. Better else, get the exact prices of all your main competitors. Now you sound like you know what you are talking about. These days when the practice of medicine is quickly headed to the “bottom line first”, in order for you to stay with the trend you have to be “bottom line sales people”. Vagueness doesn’t sell.

January 20, 2008 Posted by | Sales Tips | , , , | Leave a comment

Sell the problem before you sell its solution.

Sales belong to those who mastered the skill of selling problems. When you are setting your buying criteria you have to make sure your doctors buy into the problem. This is when your knowledge of the disease state, its prevalence, its relevance to your client becomes the key to your future success. You are painting a picture. Make it bright gray, make it vital, make it resonate with your doctor’s practice. Use relevant statistics. Pick the numbers that are striking. Doctors like numbers. Add some real life story to the statistics. If you can scare, do it. Make your doctor own the problem. Here is an example: ” XYZ just published some new data, indicating that  QQQ is as common as 55% in the age group between 18 and 45. I know that this age group makes up to 50% of your patients. That means that every fourth patient that you see has QQQ. The problem, doctor, is that the likelihood of severe complications of this condition if not treated is 10%. That means that potentially …% of your patient will suffer from this terrible complication early in life. In fact, I just came from Dr. …. office and he told me a story of a 35 yo woman who now is unable to… and permanently bed ridden because of that. She now is suing him for that.”

You bet I will listen to you after that. You sold me on the problem 100%. I will be begging you for a solution. Of course, not all of you sell products with such drastic stats and most of you, thankfully, do not have that horrible clinical story to share. But all of you, with proper effort and time, can come up with  great stories of problems that your product is the best answer to. Sell the problem. We are all programmed by default  to react stronger to the problem. However, once we “own” it ( due to your effort ) we are hungry for solutions. That’s when you with confidence pull out that smoking gun of your sales message.

January 17, 2008 Posted by | Sales Tips | , , | 1 Comment

Did you set the buying criteria?

No matter what you sell you got to show your client that your product is his logical choice. All too often I see you skipping through to the description of your product without any or with very minimal discussion of the disease state and the current trends in management and treatment. When you talk to your doctors you  talk to people who know more than you do about human diseases. In fact, it might feel rather intimidating when it comes to their superior or your inferior level of knowledge in a given field. So your natural reaction is avoidance. Let me tell you a story that happened to me.

One day, when I was an intern ( only two months into my training ) at Cooper Hospital, I was taking care of a very challenging case. I was doing an admission to the CCU in the middle of the night. My patient was a fifty something years old male who just had a heart attack. I collected the history, examined him and was discussing with him his treatment  plan. He asked me a few questions and I went on in great details to explain what would happen next. He asked me what my opinion was about his chances of making it, about complications and so on. We had a good talk, but something in his manner of asking questions appeared unusual to me. So I asked him what he was doing  for a living. His answer literally shocked me. ” I am a cardiologist and the head of the CCU ( coronary care unit ) in ……. hospital”, he said. I felt like a complete uneducated idiot teaching an experienced and respected pro. I lost my ability to speak for a second, and when I continued I simply told him how I felt. His reply was: ” I know it all, but now I choose to learn from you. You are my doctor”.

So no matter how smart, educated and tough they are, once you have a chance to talk to them they will likely listen, at least initially. Forget about their credentials. You are doing your job. You are EDUCATORS first, and sales people second. As their educators you better know three things, and know them very well. 1. What problem is your product an answer to? 2. Who has that problem? 3. What will happen to the patients if your product is not used? If you have no quality answers to all three of them, your message will not connect and will not be memorable.

We’ll talk more about the specifics in the upcoming posts.

January 13, 2008 Posted by | Marketing and Sales strategies | , , | Leave a comment

Ask me any question.

Prudent question is half-wisdom.

Know what and whom to ask is a great advantage in business. Large portion of your success in pharmaceutical sales is in your ability to understand your doctors. This blog gives you a unique opportunity to learn about ways your doctor’s mind works. Grow your sales and promote yourself in the eyes of your clients through knowing what they need and what they want.

Have a question that you want to ask but do not want to be seen by anyone else? Send your email to the address below to start using this free service. Your confidentiality is guaranteed.


January 11, 2008 Posted by | Your question , my answer | , , | 7 Comments

How good are you?

Earlier this week I had a conversation with one of the best reps in my territory who asked me to comment on your training. I recalled a survey that you were asked to participate in about 2 months ago. 84% of answers were that you got an adequate marketing and sales training from your companies. Back then I thought : “Wow, you must be ignorant or I might be blind”. But the statistics was stronger than my opinion. So, I backed off. Now I am rethinking the way the question was posed. Let me ask you again: What is missing in your training? What would you like to change?

January 9, 2008 Posted by | Marketing and Sales strategies | , | 3 Comments

Know your weapons.

Do you always know what made your sale? Is it important? You bet it is. Let me suggest that we should never assume that we know what other people ( in this case your doctors ) think. Hence the best way to figure out why some of them all of the sudden start writing your product is to ask.

Let’s divide your prescribers into two groups. First group are those who have been “writing”. They should be the source of your product’s testimonials. You should ask them what it is about your product that makes them use it. Ask them now and ask them again and again in the future. Pass that information along to your other clients. This is your asset. Collect it and continue accumulating.

Second group are those who rarely or never used your product before. And then one day you start seeing their scripts. Go back to them and ask them what affected their prescribing patterns.  Ask what changed? There you may find precisely what you need to help you with your next customer. Was it a detail piece? Some new data? Was it you, your persistence, your comment, your speaker, your coffee and so on. Just ask. They will be happy to tell you. Once you learned it , you got a new marketing and sales weapon. Don’t assume that you know what worked even if it seems obvious. Prudent question is half-wisdom.

January 5, 2008 Posted by | Inside your doctor's mind, Marketing and Sales strategies | , , , , , | 3 Comments

Begging for leftovers.

If you are a market leader, skip this post. Go sell more and enjoy your leadership.

Well, today I heard it again: “We are not asking for much. We know you like…XYZ medication (our competition). We just want you to give us a couple of scripts here and there”. This rhetoric is so painfully familiar, that I felt like crying along.

So, let’s look at the message that I am getting: “We do not believe that our brand is the best. We do not believe that we can sell it to you. We are not proud of our product or ourselves. We are begging for leftovers”.

Has anyone ever analyzed outcomes of such approach? Let me tell you what happens after.

A. No scripts. B. You committed your brand to a death sentence. And along with that you committed yourself. 

We all know the numbers game you have to play. But, please, do not put your name under the statement of your brand’s failure. Remember, you and your product are not the same. Even if you think that you are selling a stinky product ( which is NOT the case ), you do not want to be seen useless as a REP. Find and regain your pride! Everything has its place in the market. Locate the niche, locate your primary sales targets and grow them. Do not beg those who are not your primary market for any leftovers.

If I am not saying what you are seeing, I want to hear it. Please post your comments.

January 2, 2008 Posted by | Marketing and Sales strategies | , , | 3 Comments