Med-Reps Vs. Pharmacy Sales Reps: Who will take charge of pharmaceutical sales in Greece in the following years?
The pharmaceutical sales model in Greece goes through a major transition. Pharmaceutical companies need to adapt to a new business environment described by a significantly lower spending power both by the Greek National Health System and by the individual patient-consumer. Additionally the change of the prescription model and the growing importance of pharmacists have reshaped the balance of power among the key stakeholders of public health. Therefore it’s essential for all pharmaceuticals operating in Greece to deploy their resources effectively and choose their target market wisely.
“Effective deployment of resources” and “wise selection of the target market” are two eloquent terms to say that pharmaceuticals must reshape their sales model and focus not only on doctors but on pharmacists as well. Does this mean that doctors are no longer worth the calls? Certainly not! Doctors’ recommendations are still the most important driver of pharmaceutical sales. However pharmacists’ recommendations have also begun to play an increasingly significant role.
Currently many pharmaceutical companies choose to market their products to pharmacies through wholesalers acting as mediators. As a result they are significantly disengaged from this particular cluster and rely solely on doctors. At the very opposite are companies with a sizeable pharmacy sales force, covering a large number of pharmacies reaching even a 40% coverage (the total number of operating pharmacies in Greece amount approximately to 10.000 while the total number of licenses are roughly 11.000). These are the companies who have managed to win the pharmacists’ trust, secure their support and consequently increase their sales. The link between the company and the pharmacist in this case, isn’t the wholesaler but the sales rep who is now considerably more appreciated than he used to be.
Direct sales to pharmacies gradually become a “sine qua non” for many pharmaceuticals. Still occupying a pharmacy sales team doesn’t necessarily mean that pharmacists will endorse the company and its products. Old-school salesmen are certainly not the missing link between pharma companies and their clients. Pharmacists’ needs increasingly change. So do the required skills of a pharmacy sales force. A sales rep all he had to do (until recently) was to present his company’s commercial policy and convince the pharmacists to purchase his products. Not anymore. Among the duties of a skilled rep is to assist the pharmacist sell to his clients. The first step towards this is to provide as much information and answer questions related to the products a sales-rep promotes. In other words a pharmacy sales rep must become more of a med-rep and evolve from an ordinary “order-taker” to a pharmacists’ trusted partner.
Then again med reps should also take lessons from pharmacy sales reps and evolve from ordinary “detailers” to more active “sales-closers”, although in a more subtle way. For sure medical representatives are not in a position to know immediately whether a doctor will keep on his promises to recommend a particular product. To know this takes time and the use of several sales-tracking platforms. In contrast a pharmacy sales rep knows immediately whether he closed the deal or not. So he is trained to use different sales techniques than a med-rep. Some of these techniques can be easily replicated by the “detailers” and implemented to the doctors. By this way med-reps will not be the passive product specialists they used to be, but become the champions of a particular therapy, a particular product and a particular company always functioning towards a more active engagement of the doctor.
In a few words, pharmacy sales reps should adopt some of the sales techniques used by the med-reps and vice versa med-reps should make use of particular sales techniques practiced by the sales-reps.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Evangelos Mantzafos is a sales solutions expert, specializing in pharmaceutical sales. He is currently the Business Development Manager of MaBiCo (Sales Solutions for Pharmaceuticals) and works with some major pharmaceutical companies.