Pharmaceutical Selling

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Pharmaceutical Selling: From Induction to Evolution, A Complete Guide

Pharmaceutical Selling: From Induction to Evolution, A Complete Guide

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  • Consider your objective for the call. Is it clear cut? Is it consistent with the priorities of the division? Is it S.M.A.R.T? Finally, what can you offer that is of interest to the customer to support both your objectives and his/her needs.
  • What are you trying to accomplish in the sales call?
  • Ask: “How many of you know what a strategic Map is? Of those of you who raised your hand, can you identify off the top of your head the priorities your MM or BUM has listed on your specific divisional country strategic map? If we pursue the tactics our Marketing Manager has given us the direction to pursue, are we prepared to support them? Do we have the proper currencies to support such an endeavor? We will discuss in a moment the important role of “value-adds.”
  • Why is a S.M.A.R.T objective?
  • Ask: “Who can tell me what a value-add is?” As a business consultant, Boston Scientific offers many programs and areas of support which are in line with the customer ’s interest – you just need to identify the match.
  • Some of the support we can offer comes in the form of the sales tool. When we spend time in the field, we should evaluate whether our Territory Managers are utilizing the most current and effective tools available. Also, be honest with yourself; how many Territory Managers are bringing a complete bag into every call? If they are not using one when they are with you, then how under prepared are they when working alone?
  • Welcome to the selling process segment of the Boston Scientific International Sales Model, “ASK.” The medical drug industry as we see it today is both highly competitive and constantly changing. In order to keep up with the frequent demands of the sales representative ’s daily activities, our field-based team must be fully prepared to confidently and consistently address the uppermost needs of the customer. Without identifying a true “need,” the long-term commitment from the customer will never take root.
  • A successful rep is able to establish the clinical need by first uncovering a weakness, or shortcoming, in the clinician ’s current modality. At this point, although a need is established, customer commitment is not obtained until the clinician believes that Boston Scientific offers a viable solution to this newly discovered necessity. Later in the program we will spend time on how to successfully establish and address this clinical or technical need.
  • In the ASK model, there are 6 steps to a successful sales call.
  • Strong opening.
  • Probing questions – quite frankly something we don ’t do enough of.
  • reinforcing.
  • Offering a solution.
  • Offering a solution.
  • And finally, gaining a commitment from the customer. During this segment we will discuss the ways to confirm whether or not the commitment is one we can depend on or if it is simply a statement from the customer implying: “I’ll try it for a while.”
  • It is important to recognize that no step can be skipped to obtain a true commitment. At the end of this program if you and your team were to look back at your discussion and discuss which step you felt is most critical, there would most likely be mixed opinions, which clearly indicates that no step is un important.
  • Ask: “What defines a strong opening? Consider what you have seen or used that works and what has not in your reply.” The Territory Manager must recognize that without a strong opening, the conversation can come to an abrupt halt. If the customer does not see the benefit in continuing the conversation, you will never hold their attention long enough to gain a sustainable commitment in the long run.
  • Ask the group: “What is reinforcing?” Let them take their time in replying. You will get anything between a quiet room and mixed opinions. This is typically the step of the selling process TMs struggle with the most. The most successful reps are able to implicate in a professional way. Remember, you are not looking to correct their current choice of treatment as much as uncover a possible “better way” of approaching a disease. All physicians are interested in improving outcomes, but you need to be careful in your approach when you implicate.
  • Now that you have reviewed examples, to emphasize the importance of this step of the selling process, take some time discussing how critical it is to effectively implicate. reinforcing is how we establish the need . Everything before simply sets it up, while everything after is nothing more than “fixing” the identified problem.
  • “ Now that we have successfully implicated, it is time to offer a solution. What does the solution statement accomplish?” The most important point of this slide is the last one. The solution statement gives us the right to show a product (or introduce a program). Too many times the TM holds the product in their hands during the previous 3 steps (opening, probing and reinforcing). When they do this, the customer is looking at the drug, without giving any attention to the conversation. In a situation like this, the customer will typically make their decision before we even have the opportunity to probe.
  • Regarding the need, we need to discuss the difference between an “implied need” and an “explicit need.” There is a big difference between the two, and although an implied need may lead to a purchase order, only the explicit need leads to repeat orders – the true indication that the customer has converted.
  • Immediately after an unsuccessful sales call, a smart sales rep learns from a bad experience by considering the following: “ How do I feel about the call?” “ How effective was my plan?” “ Did I accomplish or advance my call objective?” “ What went well that I should keep – or reinforce?” “ What didn’t go well that I should change?” “ What is the next step with this customer?” These questions will help us learn from our mistakes and better prepare us for the next face-to-face visit with a given customer.
  • Ask; “What are we hearing out there as far as customer objections go?” Answers will come readily from the participants with those listed on this slide being some of them.
  • Walk the participants through the 4-step process.
  • After submitting this secondary solution – that which addresses the objection to our first solution – we now need to confirm that the customer is no longer hesitant to commit. Suggesting the next step of action will certainly accomplish this.
  • Since we are dealing with a customer who has objected at least once, this slide is one you need to spend some time on. Customers who did not agree to your first suggested solution may not still be ready to commit. If the sales force believes that they have addressed all objections and the customer is ready to commit, they can “test the water” with a trial close.
  • With an agreement to the trial close, the sales rep has successfully achieved the customer ’s full commitment and a hard close is now in order.
  • An example of a hard close. It may seem like we are asking for a lot in this particular example, but if the rep has truly addressed all objections, it is both necessary (and appropriate) to ask for a full commitment.
  • Welcome to the final stage of the ASK Sales Model – Retaining the Business. The competitive landscape in today ’s medical industry is extremely challenging, and with that, business can be lost as fast as it is gained. For any Sales Representative just joining the company (and obviously new to their territory), the first priority is to protect the business we currently have while the second priority is to gain new business. This workshop offers suggestions on how to best accomplish both.
  • Walk the group of attendees through this series of questions. Do they see a difference between the methods used to gain new business and those used to protect current business? There should be a lot of similarities between each. Ask the room: “What do we mean by ‘mind share’?” Mind share is the definition of how quickly, how often, and how passionately Boston Scientific comes to mind when the customer is asked the following question: “Who is the leading supplier of minimal invasive drugs in your field?” Be sure to emphasize that when managing a territory, the cost of gaining a new customer is significantly higher than the cost of maintaining current business.
  • Ask: “What are some of things we do today to help protect our current base business while ensuring that new business “sticks?” Some refer to the regular practice of these habits as “installing” a product. Installing a product is nothing more than conducting the everyday tasks that support continued and successful use of a drug within the account.
  • Conducting in-services. In-servicing the customer is critical when installing a new drug. Anyone involved in a procedure when a new technology is introduced needs to fully understand what their responsibility is. To ensure a successful transition to a new technology, it is sometimes best to make ourselves available for the first few cases. Now, regarding existing business, ask the group: “What is at risk if we don’t re-visit older technologies when scheduling in-services?” Hospital staff can become unfamiliar with a drug if it is not used on a regular basis. On-going educational programs will help prevent this.
  • Proper inventory is critical. Express to the sales force that after all the work they have done, the last thing they need to see is limited drug usage because of a lack of appropriate inventory on hand. Each end user has his/her specific sizes they prefer. These product codes must be identified to ensure availability at the time of the procedure. Also, it is important to identify who keeps inventory and places order requests with materials management. These individuals need to be well informed. As far as competitive inventory is concerned, knowing how much is on hand and who uses it will help determine account penetration and whether this inventory poses a threat to usage of specific BSC drugs.
  • Discuss with the team the importance of pricing by reviewing each point above. If the customer sees your drug as a premium (clinically or technically) then charging a higher price should be justifiable – but you may still need to confirm their acceptance. Briefly discuss contracts and bundling as they pertain to the local marketplace. Both can be used to leverage and protect business if done properly.
  • This slide uncovers a major mistake even the veteran rep can make – staying content with a customer using an old generation technology due to the mindset of: “As long as they’re happy, I’m happy. Besides, I still do have the business.” This mistake opens the door for the competition to steal your business with today’s technology. Stress how keeping all customers abreast of current developments in technology will best prevent the competition from sneaking in where we least expect it.
  • Regular conversation on the effectiveness of BSC drugs the clinician is currently using will reconfirm why the customer ever committed to BSC in the fist place. This “soft sell” approach may take only a few seconds to do, but will strongly re-establish our position in the marketplace as the industry leader.
  • Finally, reaching outside the comfort zone of your everyday lab to seek out additional end users is a great way to increase overall drug usage in a given account. Ask yourself: “Who else would benefit from this technology based on the patients they treat?” Use the success of your current users within the same account as third-party references.


  • 1. Course Facilitator: Dr. Awais e Siraj MBBS (KE, 1994) MBA (SGBS, Glasgow 1997)  Product Manager 1997-2001  Medical and Regulatory Affairs Manager 1999-2003  Business Unit Manager 2003 to 2006  Sales Manager, Boston Scientific Regional Office, Beirut, Lebanon  Assistant Professor, Department of Management Sciences, COMSATS, Islamabad.  Publication:  The Art and Craft of Pharmaceutical Selling: GA Communications, Lahore, 2003.
  • 2. Why are we all here? To sharpen our ‘selling skills’ To have a better understanding of our customer To prepare ourselves better for our communication Foster an insatiable will to win  Victory belongs to those who want it most Be constantly impatient with the status quo Remain highly ethical at all times Demand to hear the truth from our customers andour business partners. Focus on continuous improvement
  • 3. Medical KNOW- Market LEDGE ProductTheoretical SELLINGAnlytical SKILLSPragmatic Pillars of Pharmaceutical SellingAttitude APTI- TUDE Passion
  • 4. Patient, Efficacy Job, Salary, Safety Targets Cost effectiveness Incentives Cure, Cost Information Prescription Queries Fee sMedical Representative ine Doctor Patient di c ey Me Sa Mon les Manufacturer, Importer m ans Ch Sa hi p or Distributor em lar i st y, s Be Medicine ne fit s Money The Pharmaceutical Sales Cycle
  • 5. The Art of Pharmaceutical Selling Basics  Pharma companies and their salespeople  Positive frame of mind  Goal setting – the key to success  Mission statement
  • 6. Baby Steps!!!!
  • 7. The Art of Pharmaceutical Selling Gear up for sales call  Pre – Call Planning Who are your customers?  Know your customers Examining your wardrobe Timing Rehearsal
  • 8. Rehearsal
  • 9. Pareto’s Law
  • 10. The Art of Pharmaceutical Selling Taking care of your means of transport Traveling Distribution and distributors Chemist first! Arrange your belongings While in the waiting room, observe Liaison with gatekeepers Shaping initial discussion
  • 11. PROSPECTING Identify markets, segments, competition andrequirements needs to be met To find potential customers; to Qualify, Classify andCategorize Basis for the strategy for the Sales call Proper allocation of time and frequency of salescalls. A continuous process ; all changes must be knownat all relevant levels
  • 12. Pre-call Planning Align your objectives  Do you have a clear call objective?  Is the objective identified on your strategic direction?  Is the objective S. M. A. R. T?  What can you offer that may be of interest to the customer?
  • 13. Pre-call Planning  Do you have a clear call objective?  Secure a purchase order for 100 packs of a specific injection by the end of the day  Gain commitment from a targeted physician to a 6-week evaluation of a specific new product
  • 14. Pre-call Planning Is the objective identified in your strategic direction/Performance Goals?  Confirm that it is a priority for your territory and division  What tactics are linked to this particular strategy?  Does your plan support the chosen tactics?
  • 15. Pre-call Planning Is your objective S.M.A.R.T?  S pecific  M easurable  A chievable  R elevant  T ime-bound
  • 16. Pre-call Planning Do you have what they want? What influences them:  Your Offerings:  Third-party references  Clinical support  Revenue to the hospital  Financial savings plans  Delivery Support  Free delivery  Product Availability  Next day service  Recognition  International data  Full line supplier  Broad product portfolio  Innovation and technology  Proprietary technology  Price  Price discounts  Technical Support  Product in-services  Relationships  Professional support  Congress involvement.  Symposia coordination.
  • 17. Pre-call Planning  Sales Tools  Do you have all the tools and resources you need to conduct a complete call?  Are you carrying a complete sales bag into every call?
  • 18. The Art of Pharmaceutical Selling Lights, camera, action  The sales call  On the stage  First impression is the lasting impression  Remember the name of your doctor  Know your lines
  • 19. The Art of Pharmaceutical Selling Lights, camera, action  Make it natural  The speed of your speech  The game of feature and benefit  Own “their” concerns  Patient’s pocket is the decision- maker
  • 20. The Art of Pharmaceutical Selling Bridging Mode of communication Credibility Make them feel special Value proposition
  • 21. The Art of Pharmaceutical Selling Active listening Selling with evidence Adopt a proactive attitude Discuss with confidence Research and generics
  • 22. The Art of Pharmaceutical Selling Impress them with numbers Repeat the name of product time and again Ready made answers Short and long calls and a few in between Negotiations Apprehensions
  • 23. The Art of Pharmaceutical Selling Convenience Different strokes for different folks Choose your words carefully Tell them about the old days Managing time Talking to a group of customers When the day is just not right!
  • 24. The Art of Pharmaceutical Selling Selling skills  Opening  Probing  Reinforcing  Gaining commitment  Objections  Misunderstanding  When the customer is right  Uninterested customer or satisfied with another product  Disbelief  Closing Complainers are most loyal customers Is that all about “selling skills”
  • 25. Super Selling through “Skills”
  • 26. Selling Skills Establishing the Clinical Need  “No Need = No Sale ”
  • 27. Selling Skills Basic steps to an effective sales call:
  • 28. Selling Skills Basic steps to an effective sales call:  Opening Exercise:  Write an opening statement of your call and share it with your colleagues
  • 29. Selling Skills Basic steps to an effective sales call:  Opening  Probing
  • 30. Selling Skills Basic steps to an effective sales call:  Opening  Probing  Reinforcing
  • 31. Selling Skills Basic steps to an effective sales call:  Opening  Probing  Reinforcing  Offering a Solution
  • 32. Selling Skills Basic steps to an effective sales call:  Opening  Probing  Reinforcing  Offering a Solution  Handling Objections
  • 33. Selling Skills Basic steps to an effective sales call:  Opening  Probing  Reinforcing  Offering a solution  Handling Objections  Gaining commitment
  • 34. Building a Call Gain Commitment Handling Objections Offering a Solution Reinforcing Probing Opening
  • 35. Openings What defines of a strong opening?  Of interest to the customer  Successfully gains favorable attention  Identify why you are there  Consistent with your call objectives  Tailored to the customer’s profile  Encourage the customer to further discuss.
  • 36. Reinforcing What is “reinforcing?”  Statements which…  Paraphrase the physician concerns  Confirm “the need”  Establish a sense of urgency in the eye of the customer.
  • 37. Reinforcing Why do we “Reinforce?”  Add value to the approach in the eyes of the physician  To establish a strong need for the product or program you wish to introduce.
  • 38. Offering a Solution What does the solution statement accomplish?  It fulfills the customer’s new found “need”  It builds value to the product or program you are about to deliver  It serves as a problem solving statement to the conversation  It gives you the right to get a prescription or introduce a program.
  • 39. Gain Commitment Implied needs versus specific needs  Implied Needs:  When the customer states dissatisfaction  When the customer agrees that his/her current modality or drug has a shortcoming but they can “live with it”  Explicit Needs:  When the customer specifically states that he/she wants or needs to make a change  When the customer suggests the next action steps.
  • 40. Gain Commitment Before planning the follow-up call, consider:  How do I feel about the call?  How effective was my plan?  Did I accomplish/advance my call objective?  What went well that I should keep?  What didn’t go well that I should change?  What do I see as the next step with this customer?
  • 41. Selling Skills – Handling Objections Brainstorming on common objections...  Product performance / desired outcome  Price  Product familiarity  Product reliability (actual and perceived)  Clinical need / relevance to practice.
  • 42. Objections Why customers raise objections? Why shouldnt they raise objections?
  • 43. Why are we scared of objections? We are scared that the customers ask for more favors than the business they generate for us. We are also scared of responsibility. Scared of critique and criticism
  • 44. Part I Objection Types Misunderstanding When the customer is right!(Real Objection) Uninterested customer or satisfied with another drug (Lack of Interest) Skepticism/Disbelief
  • 45. Misunderstanding An erroneous impression about the characteristics of a product or company Usually develops when the customer fails to get a first hand knowledge of your products or the company It can also be due to lack of proper communication in the previous calls whereby the information was communicated in a crude manner
  • 46. Misunderstanding It is also possible that your company representatives have never visited the doctor before and hence his information about the product or the company is derived from not very reliable sources
  • 47. Real Objections When the customer is right!  Know the difference between a misunderstanding and a real objection There is hardly any ideal drug available in the market. So any customer can come up with an objection, which is true in letter and spirit
  • 48. Lack of Interest Uninterested customer or satisfied with another drug (Lack of Interest)  An uninterested customer is usually the one who is prescribing an old and established product from a competitor and is quite satisfied with it.  This kind of customer is usually the one who hates change and is not willing to take risks, whether it concerns his own practice, his personal life or a new medicine
  • 49. Skepticism Skepticism/Disbelief  Disbelief or skepticism comes usually from a very choosy customer.  Unfortunately a live demonstration cannot be made in case of pharmaceutical products. (Unless it’s an instrument or a procedure)  Hence you will have to rely on the clinical trial data and published scientific evidence in leading medical journals
  • 50. Objections Complainers are your mostloyal customers - Don’t avoid them
  • 51. Strategies to Handle Objections
  • 52. Objections The rule for handling objection is simple:  “Do whatever it takes to make things right when things go wrong – No matter what” T. Scott Gross (1998)
  • 53. Handling Misunderstanding Misunderstanding can be detected through customer signals Customer signals can only be picked through active listening Hold for a second Probe very gently for further clarification. Do not embarrass the doctor by saying, “What are you talking about? Your argument is totally baseless.”
  • 54. Handling Misunderstanding You need to do it very delicately and in a very sophisticated manner like:  “I think I could not make you understand………….”  “You will be delighted to know that this is not actually the situation but………..” Provide the correct information Repeat the same for a permanent impression on the doctor’s mind.
  • 55. Handling Real Objections If it is an unquestionable weakness of your product, you cannot deny it. Simply probe to clarify and differentiate between a misunderstanding and a real objection Acknowledge the concern of your customer The customer will develop a lot of empathy towards you. Reduce the impact by describing a benefit that really supercedes the deficiency
  • 56. Handling Real Objections You can also make a comparison with other products in the market if this is a common problem Clinical and published data can be used as support to prove that the specified problem is rare and/or transient Your marketing department should also provide you a strategy to deal with such specific situations.
  • 57. Handling Real Objections One of the training corporations based in USA suggests to follow the “five A’s” principle in such situations:  Acknowledge  Apologize  Accept  Adjust  Assure Don’t forget to reemphasize the point and secure commitment.
  • 58. Handling Lack of Interest An uninterested customer is usually not very talkative. A series of closed probes (well thought out obviously) can expose his need Open probes are not usually successful because an uncommunicative customer would not like to reveal the shortcomings of his favorite product. it is not advisable to push him to the wall  A prerequisite of this, however is a thorough and
  • 59. Handling Lack of Interest Do not attack head on Always use a diplomatic approach Once done, you can emphasize your point and then ask for a commitment
  • 60. Handling Skepticism Addressing only the point of concern Defying it through means of scientific evidence Reemphasize and explain the benefit In the end, try to secure commitment
  • 61. Final Word! One word says it all!  Listen  Listen  Listen  Listen
  • 62. The Hidden Agenda?????
  • 63. Selling Skills – Handling ObjectionsAcknowledge Demonstrate that you understand Probe Uncover what is most important Answer Respond with a solution Confirm Verify that the solution is adequate
  • 64. Selling Skills – Handling Objections Verify the solution is adequate  Test for confirmation by suggesting the next step of action.  “Doctor, if I can demonstrate to you that the < drug > addresses your concern, will you be willing to evaluate its performance in an actual procedure?”
  • 65. Selling Skills – Closing the Salethe sale ONLY after you have completely You close resolved the customer’s objection If you believe you have completely resolved the objection, you should attempt a “trial close”…. “So doctor, now that I’ve shown you all the data, would you agree that < drug > offers < needed benefit > which directly addresses your concerns?”
  • 66. Selling Skills – Closing the Sale  If the customer agrees to the “trial close”, you have the right to attempt a “hard close” by asking for the business.
  • 67. Selling Skills – Closing the Sale The “hard close”  “Doctor, since you agree that < product > offers those benefits which are most important to you and your patients, would you be willing to use it as your primary modality in every case?”
  • 68. The Art of Pharmaceutical Selling The “marketing mix”  Literatures/folders  Prescription pads  Clinical studies  Gimmicks and giveaways  Sponsorships  Clinical seminars and congresses
  • 69. The Art of Pharmaceutical Selling The “marketing mix”  Group discussions and round table meetings  Opinion leader lectures and speaker programs  Selecting a speaker  Arranging a speaker program  Lunch/dinner or tea  Use of phone, e-mail and mailings  Internet/ e – marketing  Days to remember!
  • 70. The Art of Pharmaceutical Selling After the sales call  Retain Business  Establish relationships  Relationships with medical students & fresh graduates  Post call analysis  Follow ups  Repeat calls
  • 71. Retaining the Business
  • 72. Retaining the Business How do you protect your current business? How do you ensure that new business “sticks?” Is the approach different for each scenario? How can you increase the customer’s “mind share” of your company?
  • 73. Retaining the Business Possible ways to accomplish both:  Communicate to all  Conduct in-services (RTM’s, Group Promos etc.)  Leveraging Marketing Support  Review your price structure and give feedback  Continually upgrade to new technologies  Continually reinforce current technologies  Develop additional end users.
  • 74. Retaining the Business  Conduct frequent meetings  Give your physicians enough opportunity to gain confidence on the drug before the first prescription  Have you set proper expectations regarding the performance?  Collect quick feedback on initial cases.  What about existing business? How often do we in-service these products?
  • 75. Retaining the Business Ensure proper placement  Are your products  Conveniently available  At the nearby pharmacies  In the hospital stores
  • 76. Retaining the Business Review your price points  Is your pricing in line with the market?  If your company is at a premium price, does the customer justify this difference?  Can you bundle other items into the agreement?  What about rebates?
  • 77. Retaining the Business Continually upgrade services  Strengthen your position with the best practices available  Don’t be content with your initial offerings  Next generation drugs increase your value and can eliminate possible competitors.
  • 78. Retaining the Business Continually Reinforce Current Technologies  Maintain regular dialogue on the performance of your drugs currently being used  Re-confirming customer satisfaction with existing technologies reestablishes your position as the market leader.
  • 79. Retaining the Business Develop additional Customers  Don’t stop with just one doctor  Who else potentially see the cases in the same facility?  What about other departments in the hospital?
  • 80. The Art of Pharmaceutical Selling After the sales call  Retain Business  Establish relationships  Relationships with medical students & fresh graduates  Post call analysis  Follow ups  Repeat calls
  • 81. The Art of Pharmaceutical Selling Something more  Exploring the hidden agendas  Cultures & traditions of different cities & localities  Cost of one call  Use your own head in addition to product manager’s  Fight on pricing? Should you?  Don’t pretend to know everything  Do “they” know everything?
  • 82. The Art of Pharmaceutical Selling Never argue Don’t be too predictable-be different Taking risks Working at odd hours Controlling your temper Institutional/hospital selling Joint sales calls So! Was it a good day or a bad day?
  • 83. The Art of Pharmaceutical Selling It isn’t fun if it’s easy  “No medical reps please”  Competitor loyal  Apathetic doctors  “I am the authority”  Analytical and critical doctors  Loyal and non loyal customers
  • 84. The Art of Pharmaceutical Selling Evaluate thy “self” Make yourself dearer for the employer Climbing up the ladder by volunteering “Furlough” “kaizen” training and learning Choose your future today
  • 85. The Art of Pharmaceutical Selling Motivation You are master of your success Are you Mr. Perfect? Managing your stress Ride the change lion Self respect
  • 86. The Art of Pharmaceutical Selling PHARMA SALES  IS IT AS SIMPLE AS 2 + 2 = 4  SMILE, LAUGH AND TAKE IT EASY!  RELAX AND HAVE FUN
  • 87. Relax!