How to be a successful medical sales representative

This comprehensive sales guide for medical sales reps provides in-depth information on the art of sales and selling in the Pharma Industry. In this article you’ll learn all the skills of effective communication with health care practitioners.You’ll also learn how to master the art of profiling your customers and selling according to their personality and their stage in the buyer journey.Learn how to create the perfect A -B shift that converts potential customers to loyalists and brand advocates.

As a medical sales representative, you are tasked with the duty of selling pharmaceuticals or diagnostic devices. You serve as the link between your customer- The Health care Professionals(HCPs) and the end user- the patient.

HCPs here means doctors, pharmacists, nurses, and all other health care professionals who provide diagnostic and therapeutic services to patients.

Your objective for each call to your clients should, therefore, be to provide value for the patient, your product, and the practitioner.

What’s in it for all- patient, product, and practitioner

Patient: Since the patient laws in most countries do not allow you to interact with the end-user directly, you have to create the means to get the HCPs to picture clearly what’s in it for the patient. Why should the patients use your brand over dozens or hundreds of other drugs or devices out there that perform the same function? In other words, what new value do you bring to the table?

Practitioner: How would using this device or medication benefit the practitioner?Would using it increase his success rate with managing patients for the disease? Would this make it easier for them to perform their tasks, reduce their workload, give them better quality time with their families? Your message also has to provide value to the practitioner as well.

Product: Apart from providing value to HCP and patient, you need to clearly define what’s in it for your product and ultimately your company. How will selling to this practitioner help you achieve your overall budget?

Another important factor you need to also bear in mind is your attitude, as communicating with the right attitude is vital to the success of your sales call.

As a Medical Rep, you are unique because, not only does your job involve promoting your brands, it also involves providing up-to-date information on current trends for your customers.

Go in to each call with a three-fold Mission.

Your objective for each call should be to provide value for the patient, your product, and the practitioner.Apart from providing value to HCP and patient, you need to clearly outline what’s in it for your product and ultimately your company. How will selling to this practitioner help you achieve your overall budget?


As a medical sales rep, How well do you know your customer?

As a Medical rep, I’m certain you’ve been apprised of the importance of thorough research on your client before going into a sales call. Ofttimes, med reps are quick to label certain customers difficult and may end up giving up on viable leads. The problem is they failed to utilize all the resources at their disposal to get to know this customer well. Another challenge is that they do not individualize HCPs and promote a ‘one-size fits all’ formula for marketing their brands.

  1. What is this customer’s preferred style of communication?There are several articles about communication methods for different customer situations. The one, which proved the most beneficial to me as a sales rep is the Hermann whole brain model system. Based on the Hermann Brain Dominance Model, there are four distinct thinking preferences, which determine individual learning and communication styles. These styles are represented by four brain quadrants and each quadrant is assigned a color code. Notwithstanding that most people are a mix of two or more thinking personality styles, there is usually one that dominates the mix. To uncover an HCP’s dominant thinking preference, listen to the kind of questions they ask:
  • Blue dominant HCP: They typically ask fact-finding questions like what evidence do you have for this? Present these customers with irrefutable proof to back up any claims you make. Be logical in your presentation and avoid making assumptive statements.
  • Yellow dominant HCP: This group needs to see the broader picture: where are you going with this? what results did you achieve? The worst thing you could do is to bog them down with details. Dominant yellow personalities demand to know why. Why should I use your brand? How is your brand better than what I prescribe to my patients, currently? Show them the benefits of using your brand, both short-term and long-term.
  • Green dominants are logical, detail-oriented and organized in their thinking and communication. They ask questions to elicit details- How did you arrive at this conclusion? How many patients were part of this study? Take them step-by-step through all the stages of your presentation and be ready to elaborate.
  • Red Category: This HCP is the most likely to offer you a cup of coffee when you call on them. They are always talking about the patient. HCPs in this group ask questions like what will this do for my patient? How affordable is your brand for my patient? Show them the cost-effectiveness of your brand and also, the emotional and physical needs that it will fulfill.2. What’s the customer’s change behavior?A lot of times, so-called difficult customers are just slow to adapt to innovation and often wait for the majority before they make a change-decision. To know if your customer is an early adopter or late adopter, check the kind of medications they prescribe. A doctor who is years behind in their prescription pattern is not likely to jump on-board with the latest innovation. Does this mean you should give up? Absolutely not! There are several tips that could prove useful in helping you win with these laggard-types.
  • Understand and empathize with their behavior. Use words like ‘I understand why you may be hesitant to make a decision”.
  • Minimize the risk of change. You could ask them for the minimum commitment like prescribing your medication for one patient and then follow up to know how well that one patient fared.
  • Leverage the power of sphere-of -influence: Get a brand-advocate within their sphere of influence to share his experience. You could also set this up as a formal/informal presentation where this brand advocate gets to speak to other HCPs. Be careful though to ensure they speak as objectively as possible, as a presentation that is strongly biased in favor of your brand may have the opposite effect to what you want.
  • It’s best to be prepared for several calls with this customer and each call with something new before you can gain a commitment.

  • Use your human resources- your manager, someone higher up in the organization, or even another colleague who has been able to make headway with this Hcp.

Is this the Right customer for your brand?

That’s the first question you need to ask before you start targeting the client for potential sales. A lot of medical sales reps do not properly segment their customers and end up wasting company resources as a result of this. Ask the right questions to determine the potential( number of patients seen) and the propensity ( affording category). Proper segmentation will help you define the 20% of your HCPs that can give you 80% of your sales. Focus on these ones first.

  • Your high potential-high propensity and your medium potential-high propensity Hcps should constitute the majority of your 20%. Once you’ve been able to identify these HCPs, focus the bulk of your resources on them. Divide your budget among them to achieve as much as 80% of your sales target. They will keep your sales running smoothly while you focus on the others.
  • Your high potential-low propensity HCPS are your next targets. A lot of times these doctors form the bulk of customers you see. Most organizations would argue that this group should be number one on the list because of the sheer number of patients they see. Even though this could be true to a certain extent, however, potential alone should not be the determinant of the volume of resources(time and material) allocated to HCPS. Target this group to maximize your resources based on the propensity for your brand and not their potential. For instance, if a doctor sees 5000 patients daily and only 50 can afford your medication, would it make sense business-wise to target the doctor with 5000 resources?
  • Your low potential-low propensity customers. Without being said, you have no business seeing this kind of customers.
  • Your Key opinion leaders and Key decision makers often fall into the category of low-potential customers. However, this is one category of non-users that you must cultivate a relationship with, as their influence may come in handy. The Administrative head of a hospital or pharmacy falls into this group.

3 thoughts on “How to be a successful medical sales representative

  1. A very inspiring article, describing the best qualities for a medical rep. Specially when describing the aims to achieve when working as a business rep. Please keep sharing such nice articles.


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