How to get pharmaceutical sales representative wrong in 4 moves

Practical guide to getting pharmaceutical sales representative wrong.


#1 The product at the centre

The product is the doctor's tool for therapy, and it is what we measure at the end of the month with the turnover, so it is only natural that it is at the centre of our thoughts and that the attention of marketing and information is really focused on it. The fact, however, that the restaurant can measure results in dishes served and receipts at the end of the day does not justify the restaurateur taking his eyes off the customer who then orders the dishes and pays.

The focus on the product is as old as Ford Model T marketing, of the series: 'the customer can ask for any colour as long as it is black'. It is marketing based on satisfying a basic need well suited to an almost infinite market. In our case, however, even with the most innovative drug, we have to deal with the patient's true need for health and well-being and the need to satisfy the doctor's need for a therapeutic solution.

#2 Efficacy and tolerability

Efficacy and tolerability are the old pillars of misinformation. They always return in visual-aids (the graphic tool that pharmaceutical representatives use to present the product) and in the presentations of sales representatives to doctors, decade after decade. "My product is more effective and more tolerable than products in the same therapeutic area". OK, that may be true, and it is what the doctor expects to hear, but it is not what gives it a reserved place in the doctor's mind.

Knowing that one drug is more effective and more tolerable than another, at least in speech, brings out the memory of the competing product, enhances the latter's value as a market benchmark and, consequently, places us as a competitor to a strong product. We are not presenting a new competitor on the market, but a better solution. And to do this, we cannot rely on our 'whiter lava', which after all is what the patient deserves.

#3 Organ pipes

Oh, organ pipes, how clear they are!

In visual-aids these are almost always present to describe the product's performance over time against the competitor or placebo, and are powerful indicators of the drug's performance. They are clear, they are unassailable, they give confidence, they reassure the marketer and the salesperson, and they put everyone in agreement. They have only one problem: they draw the doctor's attention back to the product's characteristics. So they make sales based on the differences with other drugs, and this does not help to make quality information.

The absolute concentration on the product's characteristics, which organ pipes on the contrary suggest, makes one lose sight of the reason why the drug exists, and therefore must be prescribed: concentrating on it and its performance only expresses self-love and not the market.

#4 The doctor at the centre

It may sound strange, but putting the doctor at the centre is also a mistake. The doctor is the spokesperson for the patient's needs, interprets them, decodes them and turns them into therapy. But the therapy decided by the doctor is for the patient's wellbeing and health, as a whole, and the prescriptive motivations are not always objective and rational. To provide information by putting the doctor at the centre is to make an error of focus, leaving the patient in the background. Any attention we pay to the doctor, to his or her professional activity, with organisational or operational study support, is highly appreciated, but it is not connected to our brand and to the patient. We may be remembered as informants, as people, but not as bearers of quality pharmaceutical communication. The usefulness of pharmaceutical sales representatives lies in giving value to the communication between industry and doctor, always keeping the patient in mind.

Salvatore Ruggiero

Salvatore Ruggiero

Salvatore Ruggiero nasce a Napoli nel 1964, si definisce un imprenditore seriale. Oggi a capo del gruppo Merqurio, di cui è stato anche fondatore. Sposato con Giuseppina, ha due figli e nel tempo libero, tra un'escursione e un'altra, tra un film ed un altro, è alla ricerca della ricetta dei biscotti perfetti.

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