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The Sales Rep as advisor: rethinking the Medical Sales strategy

Posted on: 02 Oct

When was the last time you underwent Sales training? 

Over the past few decades, the Pharmaceuticals industry has undergone some dramatic changes. The invention of ever-smarter technologies has opened new avenues for Medical Sales Representatives and paved the way for breakthroughs that would have been considered unthinkable only a few years ago. That’s undoubtedly had an effect on the way in which the industry operates, especially in the UK: the third-largest market for Medical Devices in the world. Today, Pharma is thriving, with the UK playing host to more than 2,000 companies from all around the world, and is valued at £16bn.

However, getting products to market in this ever-changing landscape is not quite as simple as it might first appear. With numerous rules and regulations in place, sales representatives can struggle to keep up with the latest trends in selling and in Medical Sales, especially given that customer expectations are also changing all the time. Indeed, in an industry where most of the information that clients need is available at the touch of a button, a Medical Sales Representative’s real worth is arguably in acting as an advisor to their clients, supporting them where necessary and building strong relationships based on trust, reliability, and acting in the best interests of the patient.

With 94% of Sales Representatives stating that a lack of proper education hurts their sales, it’s clear that more needs to be done if Medical Sales Representatives want to maximise their potential and build closer relationships with everybody from hospital GPs to chemists.

How can you become a better advisor to your clients? 

Time to research

51% of sales leaders want to focus more on developing customer relationships, and providing your clients with the information they need to make informed decisions about the product they want to buy is key to doing so. Sometimes, patients and doctors need to know things that might not be in your sales dossier, and they might have questions about the downsides of your product, in addition to the benefits. Don’t shy away from this: in fact, this is your chance to spin the information in a more positive way, but you need to know your facts first.

Take the time to do your market research whenever you gain a new client. Compile a list of objective, third-party resources to refer back to, and read around the condition that your product will be treating, whether it’s diabetes or glaucoma. You’ll be able to have a more detailed discussion with your client, offer new solutions to problems they might be having in treating that condition, and show that you’re dedicated to developing a strong relationship with them that will last well beyond the initial sale.

Set time aside for upskilling

Medical Sales Representatives are invariably busy, especially when you factor in all the time you need to learn about new clients and products. It’s therefore easy to fall by the wayside when it comes to upskilling, especially in areas that you might not consider to be high priority. 

To remedy this, it’s a good idea to put a day or so aside every month or fortnight where you can concentrate solely on this, and on catching up with trends that you might not otherwise have the time to learn about. You can even use it to attend courses and boost your skill set, whether that’s in learning about the latest advances in Medical Sales or developing your bedside manner. With the biopharmaceutical industry currently suffering a severe skills gap, taking the time to do so can pay off, not only in the service that you give doctors- many of whom are lacking the right training in the latest medical technologies, according to the British Medical Journal- but in the deals that you close. 

Know what’s right for the patient

One of the best ways you can advise patients and clients is by being honest with them. Sometimes the product that you’re selling might not be the right fit for what the GP or chemist wants, and that’s fine. The best thing you can do with them is be honest and explain why. If one of your colleagues has a better product, then pass their details on: after all, that’s still a sale for your company. 

However, your main priority is to make sure that the needs of the patient come first. Even if you don’t make the sale, coming forward and explaining why will help you cement your relationship with the client. It’s all about building trust, and when you do sell them a product they’ll be confident that what they’re buying really will help their patients. 

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Whether you want to take the next step in your career, or break into the industry, we can help. Browse our articles for more insights into the world of Medical Sales, and browse our jobs here.