The Many Challenges of the Pharmaceutical Sales Representative

If you are a sales rep in the pharma market, 6 minutes may be as long as you get with your customer, often while standing on your feet. In a secret-shopper study done by BioPharma Alliance among 200 specialists, undercover former drug reps observed 350 pharmaceutical rep visits. From their observations, nine out of ten calls lasted 6 minutes and almost half were conducted while standing. According to the study, 83% of primary care physicians look for their rep to be an expert when the drug is new compared to 76% when the drug is already established. However, when doctors were asked about their frustrations in dealing with sales reps, topping the list was, “no new information.” Similarly, “pushy” and “aggressive” sales reps are also top annoyances.

According to Mike Luby, of consultancy BioPharma Advisors, “The biggest problem pharma has is admitting they have nothing new and adjusting their approach.” Luby goes onto say, “Consider the doctor who sees the rep waiting for them at the sample closet. They don’t know if it is new information, good science, a valued medical update waiting for them, or someone waiting to tackle them and pretend that they have something new on an old brand that hasn’t had any new information in years. So it burns doctors out. It also drags all reps down, because as a doctor, you don’t know until you are in the conversation, when you’ve invested time you will never get back.”

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