VP of Sales: Are Your Sales Reps Skills Up to Date?

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Eyeforpharma recently released findings from their industry 2014 Healthcheck.  This global survey of 971 pharma executives echoed many trends we are seeing today – from industry consolidation to a shift towards a solution provider, patient-centric business model.  When it comes to the role of the sales rep, the majority of survey respondents felt that the required skill set has changed; while selling remains a critical success factor, the role has evolved such that new skills are necessary to be impactful in this role.

In today’s world, the pharma sales rep will need to use more than consultative selling skills to meet sales goals.  How does this impact your sales team?

1. Understand the Payer Landscape

First, as both the rep and physician navigate a system where payers increasingly control drug choice, it will be up to the rep to understand the payer landscape: where is my drug on formulary?  How does it compare to the competitor’s? What amount of scripts flow through each payer for this physician?  Do I have any incentives I can use (i.e. copay cards) to help with pull-through?  Is a prior-authorization involved?  In other words, helping the patient get the drug approved and reimbursed, at the lowest possible cost, is now part of the job.

2. Utilize Today’s Technology Innovatively

Second, the rep must utilize technology more frequently.   In fact, 58% of the survey’s respondents felt that technology, such as tablets, is an enabler to sales efforts.  The sales rep should be comfortable meeting the doctor through non-traditional means, like Skype.  With doctors’ time becoming even more limited, e-detailing could be another avenue to access an healthcare provider (HCP).  Rather than sitting in a waiting room, the rep can detail the doctor when it is most convenient for him, which may be remotely.

3. Discuss the Science Behind the Drug

With medicines becoming increasingly complicated, the sales rep must be able to discuss the science behind the drug in depth.  As pharma companies move toward developing more specialty  drugs, targeted at specific niches of populations with unique needs, the sales rep  must be comfortable explaining the complexities of the drug, such as risks, benefits, MOA and impact to disease state and lifestyle.

Just as the entire industry is shifting from a transactional business model towards a value-based, outcomes paradigm, so too must the role of the sales rep. In fact, GSK recently moved away from the traditional incentive compensation program based on scripts to a program designed around the quality of information they provide to the doctor.  GSK wants their reps to add value by educating doctors on the proper ways to administer their drugs.

Across the industry, the emphasis is shifting towards patient-centric, customer service, which, in theory, should benefit the pharma company as a whole as well as those sales reps that can make this shift in their selling skills.

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