Pharmaceutical sales have changed.
A decade ago, pharma reps could easily book in-person meetings with doctors, build lasting relationships, and crush their sales quotas.
These days? Things are complicated. Physicians are harder to get hold of in 2023. Most of them prefer digital communication channels. We have yet to talk about the increased level of competition that modern reps have to deal with.
None of this means that pharmaceutical sales are dead. But it does mean that pharma reps need to adjust their sales processes to succeed in 2023 and beyond. Keep reading to learn more about the challenges that pharma sales reps face and how to overcome them.
Modern Challenges for Pharmaceutical Sales Reps
As mentioned above, modern pharmaceutical sales reps face unique challenges that their predecessors didn’t have to deal with. Here are the four most prominent ones.
Harder to Access Physicians
The majority of physicians do not want to meet with pharma reps anymore. There are a variety of reasons for this, among them intrusive marketing strategies and a lack of time.
Today’s doctors don’t trust pharmaceutical sales reps as they once did. They don’t have the time to meet with them either, thanks to the surge of patients they receive and the accompanying administrative work they’re required to complete daily.
Changing Channels of Communication
Technology has completely changed the world. Because of this, doctors can now communicate with pharma sales reps in multiple ways—and they’re taking advantage.
Physicians can now learn about new treatments via the internet and communicate with the companies that sell said treatments via phone, email, and even text message. Given how busy most doctors are, these digital communication channels have become preferred options.
The average physician receives 2,800 contacts per year from pharmaceutical companies.
To put that number into perspective, most physicians are contacted 10+ times per working day by pharma sales reps. That’s a lot of people competing for business!
It’s getting harder and harder for pharma reps to stand out from the crowd, build lasting relationships with the doctors they hope to sell to, and consistently move products.
Lack of Personalization in the Sales Process
The final challenge has to do with the way most pharmaceutical sales reps are trained.
They’re given a sales script to memorize. Then they deliver said script, word for word, to the physicians they meet. The problem? After a while, the script becomes outdated. This causes doctors to tune out because they already know about the data the reps share.
Worse, the entire process feels impersonal. Doctors can tell that the reps they speak to are using old material. One of the keys to modern sales, regardless of industry, is personalization.
How to Succeed in Pharma Sales
Now that we know the challenges that pharma reps face, let’s talk solutions. Here are seven tips to help your reps connect with more physicians and boost pharmaceutical sales.
Provide Specialized Sales Training
The best pharma sales reps know their products like the back of their hands. This allows them to answer questions that potential buyers have with clarity and confidence.
But the training you give your reps needs to go beyond this. They should also have a solid understanding of your competitors’ offerings. That way they can highlight the advantages your products provide and differentiate your offerings from competing ones.
Lastly, reps should be trained to prioritize the customer. Rather than rattling off a stale script with outdated data, teach your reps to let the physicians they speak to direct their sales conversations. Then they can provide them with products said physicians actually want.
Use a Multichannel Sales Strategy
Do you remember what we said earlier? Doctors are hard to get a hold of. Many don’t appreciate in-person visits—at least not at the same frequency as in years past.
What’s the solution? A multichannel sales strategy.
Encourage your pharma reps to use digital channels to communicate with buyers. Phone calls, email campaigns, and social media networks are viable ways to engage physicians in 2023. Reps that use them will certainly experience more success than those who don’t.
Personalize the Sales Process
Every doctor is different.
Some want to be contacted via email. Others prefer to have phone conversations with pharmaceutical sales reps. Still, others appreciate the occasional in-person visit.
The products each doctor will be interested in and the best way to sell these products to them will vary, too. That’s why personalized sales processes are essential.
Train your pharma reps to study their customers. What do each of them like? What pain points do they deal with on a regular basis? What aren’t data points familiar to them yet? Then ask reps to use the answers to these questions to inform their sales strategies.
Enable Reps With Up-to-Date Data
Speaking of data points, do your reps have access to current information?
If they don’t, there’s a good chance that the sales meetings they attend will be less than successful. Why? Because the physicians they speak to will already know the data. As such, they’ll likely lose interest during your reps’ meetings and tune out.
To combat this, provide your reps with new data as soon as you have it. Then encourage them to work the data points into their current sales pitches.
Focus on Building Relationships
Pharmaceutical sales are all about building relationships. Once a rep earns a physician’s trust, they can leverage it to make many sales in the future rather than just one sale today.
The question is, how should your pharma sales reps build these all-important relationships?
There are a few different ways. For example, reps can visit doctors multiple times, sharing new information each visit. They can also adopt a multichannel sales strategy (mentioned above) and communicate with doctors via digital channels like email and text messages.
More than anything, though, reps need to prioritize relationship-building over everything else. If they take this long-term approach, they’ll find more success in the years to come.
Monitor and Coach Team Members
If you’re a sales manager, you have an important job.
You need to design an effective pharmaceutical sales strategy. You need to coach your reps to implement said strategy successfully. And then you need to monitor each and every rep under your purview so that you can accurately determine if they’re performing well or not.
One of the best ways to monitor pharma reps is to set minimum daily sales activities. How many leads do you expect them to generate every day? How many visits should they make? How many emails and texts should they send? Pick a realistic number for them to shoot for.
Equip Reps With the Right Technology
Finally, make sure your pharma sales reps have access to the tools they need to do their jobs.
What tools do we recommend? Each of your reps should be equipped with a tablet. That way, when they meet with doctors in-person, they can show them images and videos to help close deals. Trust us, visual aids will supercharge your sales process.
We suggest using SPOTIO, too, a field sales engagement platform that’s been proven to boost revenue by 23%. It does this by giving pharma reps access to many helpful features:
- Lead Generation: With SPOTIO, reps can easily search for leads using 200+ filters. The results? A steady stream of ready-to-buy prospects that they can reach out to.
- Task Automation: SPOTIO can be used to minimize data entry tasks and streamline entire sales processes. The Autoplays feature, for example, allows reps to build sales sequences, complete with call reminders and automated emails, that run on autopilot.
- Sales Tracking: Is your sales strategy working? The SPOTIO Sales Tracking feature will tell you. Assess rep performance and forecast future results with our platform.
Equip Pharma Sales Reps for Success with SPOTIO
Success in pharmaceutical sales requires a different approach than it did 10+ years ago.
These days, reps need to use digital channels to connect with physicians, personalize the sales process to each prospect, and invest in the best tech if they want to beat competitors.
SPOTIO is specifically designed to help you do these things. With our platform, you’ll be able to generate better leads, automate your multichannel communication strategy, and track rep performance—all with a single tool that can be accessed on desktop and mobile devices.
To see SPOTIO in action and learn if it’s right for you, sign up for a free demonstration today!