Pharma Selling: What Doctors expect from Medical Sales Reps?

Sales representatives in the healthcare industry are expected to manage their “territories” as if they were running their own business. That’s the very reason top performing medical sales Reps have entrepreneurial mindset. To be successful in your sales territory its important to know which customers drive you more business, what their “buying” style is; so that you can match your selling style to it, have a investment budget, and also manage your daily and weekly call schedule either by yourself or working with your team to implement the overall territory business plans.

One major goal of a medical sales representative is to be seen as a valued consultant by Doctors.  These conversations allow reps to become a valuable resource for their customers.  Being a resource, or a trusted advisor, allows them to gain new levels of access and sales growth for their products. Reps still need to describe new options and provide more education during a majority of their calls, but understanding their customers’ desired outcomes allows them to  differentiate  themselves by  bringing significantly added value to the table.
Doctors typically have very full day schedules, with no direct access (mostly accessible through an office manager or receptionist) and they may frequently need to reschedule appointments due to medical emergencies. That makes face to face meetings rare and precious when you get a chance to have one.

Medical Sales Reps

What are the various sources of information for Doctors & Pharmacists

  • medical representatives
  • continuing medical education courses
  • conferences and conventions: some are sponsored by pharmaceutical companies .
  • colleagues
  • videos and electronics
  • discussion groups
  • newsletters and e-mails… toll-free numbers to get a gift.
  • Medical journals designed to create awareness of a product.

A new product is new only once! The first 6 months of a product’s life are very determining to its success.

Targets of pharmaceuticals promotion

  • pharmacists
  • doctors
  • nurses
  • dentists
  • insurance companies
  • hospital managers
  • company managers

Some manufacturers see doctors as “learned intermediaries” and pharmacists as “Gate- keepers”.

Medical Reps Must have a database of: 

  • Customer profile
  • Product profile: all studies done, all information collected.
  • Doctor’s card: personal information, writing habits, class.

Before any visit: things Medical representative should know about:

  • Drug information.
  • Updated info.
  • Competing products.
  • Personality of the customers.
  • The key to convince the doctor with our product.
  • Selling skills.
  • To make sure that you know your company well and also that the company is well known to the doctor.
  • Must have detailed information about how your drug can be helpful and how it differs from other drugs.”
  • Should know details about the disease
  •  It is helpful to take advantage of certain events such as knowing the doctor birthday and to time your visit at that day bringing a small gift with you.”
  • Be professional. Doctors must maintain solid reputations, and this extends to their affiliation with companies they do business with.

What New Medical representatives should do?

  • Work on the appearance of a medical representative. “the bag, clothing, nails, hair style…etc…”
  • Ability to convince/persistent/credibility.
  • The frequency of visits, ”to set a program for visits”.
  • Planning: Yearly, every 6 months, every 2 weeks or daily.
  • “A plan is set by medical rep., then approved by regional managers, then by the promotion department.

What doctors expect to get from medical representatives?

  • An effective drug.
  • Information concerning the drug.
  • An idea concerning drug price.
  • Available dosage forms.
  • Free samples.
  • Brochures
  • Conferences
  • Services
  • Frequent visits.

What does a medical representative expect from a doctor?

  • To prescribe his products
  • To greet him upon his visit.
  • To understand the properties of his product over competitors’ ones.
  • Feedback

It is important to know that doctors can remember only few numbers of products for example some doctors may only know 15 products.

Why doctors may not prescribe your specific product??

  • No frequent visits.
  • If he is not convinced with your product.
  • Previous trial failure of the drug.
  • Simply because he does not like you.
  • Negative opinion or bad relations with your company
  • There is no product in your company that matches his needs.
  • His loyalty to other company
  • Not enough information concerning the drug.
  • He is used to other specific drugs.

Key Elements For Successful Communication

Question Allow and encourage questions to make clear what your message is understood well
Feedback Ask for confirmation but also check and reconfirm
Visual aids Visualize instead of only using words visualization can be manifold,also use gestures ,analogies ,symbols
Clear assumptions Verify what your way of communicating is understood well(also see next two points)
Don’t assume what others know Don’t assume what your knowledge is familiar to the”receiver”. This refers to technical terms ,background principles language _your “encoding” in general.
Set frame then details Give an overview ,familiarize with the topic in general,the proceed to detail communication
Keep it simple Don’t try to impress by complication; reduce to the maximum.
Give/get sufficient info Find the right balance (check out by feedback) don’t overdo nor “under do”.


It is always important for a medical and sales representative to try to translate any features of his product into benefits that will appeal or be attractive to his customer whether he is a pharmacist or a patient.


  •  mouthwash -> concentrated
  •  you tell the patient -> it lasts for a long time and is economical
  • A toothpaste is prescribed by doctors -> more sales for the pharmacist.

 6 Steps Toward Pharma Selling Success

1. Lay out the groundwork

  • Knowledge
  • Attitude
  • Techniques

2. Approach and relate

  • Sell the relationship
  • Help customers buy the right thing

3. Make the Presentation

  • Know the features
  • Sell the benefits  – by answering “What is in it for me?”
  • Sell the advantages- by answering “Why should I buy from this person?” and “Do you knock the competition?”

4. Overcome the Objections

Read our detailed article on overcoming physician objections

5. Close and Supplement

  • Always be closing by helping customer decide how to buy and not whether if they will buy.
  •          –   Can you see how this would meet your needs (or solve your problem)?
  •          –   Since I haven’t heard any objections, I’m assuming you agree with me? Right?
  •          –   Are you ready for us to talk about the final details?
  •          –   Shall we go ahead and get started with your order?
  • Ask for the sale
  • Suggest more products after initial decision has been made.

6. Follow up and Make them Customers for Life

  • Contact customers after sale
  • Send a “customer satisfaction” survey
  • Prove your dependability
  • Handle complaints promptly
  • Add customer names to mailing list and keep regular contact
  • Ask for referrals

Final thoughts

There is an old acronym in sales circles called WIIFM. It means, “What’s in it for me?”  The “me”
in WIIFM is the customer. When developing your elevator speech, think about the customer – in this
case, the physician – and what’s in it for him or her? What are the issues that are important to
the physician and the physician’s practice? The typical physician’s day is structured around short, controlled segments, so convenient,  quick snap shots of pertinent information work best for the busy physician.

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