The Future of Medical Sales

The profession of medical sales has clearly faced a decline during the last years, making many professionals feeling anxious about the prospect of their careers. Pharmaceutical companies of every size, cut on their medical sales teams to achieve economies and reduce their costs. Many medical reps worry that the best days of their profession are behind and worry that in the long run it’s going to extinct like many other professions of the past. It’s normal for every professional to worry about his job but worrying for “extinction” is certainly far-fetched for a profession like medical sales.

The reason that several pharmaceutical companies reduce the size of their sales force isn’t that they consider them obsolete or out of fashion. The main reason that they take such decisions relates mainly with the fact that their sales forces can achieve more with less. In the past a pharmaceutical company needed armies of medical sales reps to globetrot all the assigned territories in order to achieve sales and growth. Now traveling has been reduced significantly and companies have become smarter in working with selected customers only and not with the whole universe of them. What’s the reason to maintain an additional medical sales job position when the targeted clients have been reduced and another member of your sales team can contact them remotely at a fraction of the initial cost?

In other words, the profession of the medical sales rep is not moving towards extinction but rather towards a significant overhaul. The traditional medical sales rep as we know him, with his bag full of printed material, samples and studies, driving in his car for long hours, moving from one doctor to another only to wait until he gets admitted in the doctor’s office is certainly going to extinct. But modern medical sales reps who adopt new technologies and methods of communications with their clients, who know how to become more effective and more efficient are going to be even more needed by their companies.

A pharmaceutical company with so many regulatory restrictions has very few options to attract clients (i.e. patients); and the most common of all is and will remain physicians’ recommendations and prescriptions. Therefore, medical sales reps will keep playing the most crucial role in the sales of every organization, that of the link between the company and the doctors. But in order to be successful, med reps need to evolve. It’s natural that those who won’t progress will be replaced by those who will. So, the number one choice every med rep should make, is to become even more effective by adapting to the new technological environment.

The new technological environment is such that physical visits to doctors will be gradually replaced by virtual ones. Knowing how to connect with a doctor through a communication platform is an easily acquired skill. The most difficult part for the medical sales representative though, is to convince the doctor to show up in the meeting. To achieve this the med rep has to create value for the doctor; and creating value for the doctor means demonstrating how a pharmaceutical product can benefit his patients both through a scientific approach and a state of the art service.

Another significant skill that the new generation of medical sales reps needs to develop, is to evaluate which health care professionals should be targeted and which ones should be abandoned. The best med reps will be those who will manage to direct their companies’ resources towards achieving maximum results. Keeping clients who bring lower returns than what they cost is a recipe for failure and a sure way to get expelled from the profession.

As a conclusion, we can say that the future of medical sales is bright and at the same time different from what we know. As long as health care professionals play the most critical role in patient care and therapy, pharmaceutical companies will need medical sales reps. However, this is not a free pass for all med reps. The profession is not going to extinct, but it will undergo a considerable face-lift, meaning that not all medical sales representatives will be suitable for it.

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