Drug Rep Time

How to succeed in Pharmaceutical Sales.

Help me understand.

A few days ago I was at a POA meeting of one of the pharma companies. They invited me to get my feedback on their new promotional piece for one of the world’s largest brands. There were approximately fifteen sales reps, their DM, an ARM and two marketers from the brand team. The reps were presenting parts of the new sales aid, monitoring the impact, asking questions and getting my feedback and comments. We had a very intense, dynamic and informative interaction during which we went over at least two dozens points of how to deliver sales messages with the maximal impact on physicians. After a two hour long session the reps and their DM told me: ” You have no idea how huge this was for us”. Some of them took 3-4 pages of notes and comments; so it seemed like a great session. However, interestingly, the two marketers sitting there took no notes. Imagine-none. What was “huge” for the reps was not important for the marketing. I thought: “Wow, you must be self sufficient or plain naive. How can you possibly not being cureous about things that seemed so vital to your sales force?”. That brings two questions: Are your marketing departments even aware of what you folks struggle with?  And do they care? Please share your thoughts. Maybe that was just an isolated observation and your company’s marketing department is different. 


June 10, 2008 - Posted by | Marketing and Sales strategies | , , ,


  1. Since Marketing designed the MVA I really can’t imagine what type of notes they would need to be taking. No doubt there have been hours of time spent having docs look at and provide feedback on the MVA prior to releasing it to the field. The most important thing to me is how the reps feel about using it.

    Comment by JD | June 11, 2008 | Reply

  2. Your right, I don’t believe they take into consideration what is effective in the field. We need more truthful input from Dr.s.

    Comment by N | June 11, 2008 | Reply

  3. Ah, so now you see the IDIOCY we deal with on a day in, day out basis. These marketing guys who were reps 3+ years ago have ZERO idea what is going on in the field. They’ve JUST begun to take our feedback and apply it sparingly. So now when you look at our detail pieces/computer screens with a slightly quizzical look on your face; you know how it all came to be

    Comment by Anonymous | June 11, 2008 | Reply

  4. These corporate ying-yangs have no clue what docs really need or want to hear. They devise these stupid MVA’s that are 14 pgs long, and no doctor is going to bother to read them over a lunch or on their own. Then they make you go around with your bosses to busy doctors offices and bore the hell out of the docs and staff so you can be evaluated on a unrealistic day in the field. They would be better off giving you a dozen flash cards with one or two line pivitol pearls of information only, to be given to the doctor as needed. But that wouldn’t warrant their fat fees or existence so the dance goes on.

    Comment by BC-1 | June 12, 2008 | Reply

  5. There is a huge disconnect between the sales force and the marketing department in my company. At the conclusion of every POA, it always seems that every rep. is in agreement that the new sales pieces are nothing but garbage. To the marketers credit, they work hard and spend countless hours conducting focus groups with physicians and putting together each sales piece. However, I feel that the biggest thing these marketing people forget is the Golden Rule of Marketing 101: THE CUSTOMER IS KING! Sure, they hold focus groups with physicians and transfer their feedback from pad to print. Unfortunately, the feedback they gather from the physicians in these focus groups is utimately flawed. My reasoning for this is that the majority of the time these physicians are compensated by the companies for their feedback. The problem with this is that these physicians feel obligated to provide the company with the feedback that would be most enjoyable to them and not their honest feedback. They tell the company what the company wants to hear and aren’t honest for fear of not being compensated in the future. In my opinion, the only time you get the customers honest feedback is when they are an outside consultant, not on the payroll of any company.

    In a perfect world, we would have a third-party separate from the company/marketing department that would be made up of physicians (preferrably those who are savvy in marketing). This third-party organization would act as a “middle-man” between the marketing department and the sales force. They would gather information on newly developed sales pieces from the marketing department and then present it to the sales force at POAs. At the POAs, this 3rd party would gather feedback from the reps. and present it back to marketing. Ultimately, this 3rd party would serve as the bridge between the reps. and marketers. I truly believe that this would lead companies to develop sales pieces that are impactful, engaging, and accomplish the end goal of the customer prescribing the product.

    This is just my personal opinion, and I appreciate any feedback you can provide me with. Thanks and take care!


    Comment by T | June 12, 2008 | Reply

  6. I came home from work the other day to 25 boxes of crap from marketing. I can order what I want(pens, pads, dosing cards, etc)which was in 5 of the boxes. The other 20 boxes were autoshipped from marketing. Lots of cheesy, cheap items that I would be embarassed to hand out as well as studies and slim jims with uncompelling information that I am suppose to hand out to my targets. Often reps say that it cost them more to throw the items away so they send it to us to throw in the garbage. The bottom line is that more money is wasted on useless items and materials that most reps would not use hence the constant autoshipments accross the country to all reps. And the other problem is that it is not “real world.” Most of the people in marketing are out of touch or have no experience in the field. It is a shame. When they ask for feedback very rarely do they take the advice from us who are interacting daily with our customers. The circle of stupidity continues. Things for me have been this way for nearly 7 years with no change in sight.

    Comment by NJRep | June 18, 2008 | Reply

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