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Is Pharma Really Sales?

I recently came across a blog post titled, "Is Pharma Really Sales?" where the blogger was suggesting that pharma is not sales and that pharmaceutical sales reps don't really sell.

Below are three quotes from the blog post that caught my eye.
"Sorry, but you don’t really sell. If you did, a doctor would buy a big box of meds from you, cut you a check and you would get a percentage. But that that doesn’t happen now does it?"
"In a way, pharma reps sell like second graders – which is a good thing. Pharma reps really do serve their customers by providing tools and great knowledge. But that’s where the Second Grade Selling ends, because there is no deal closing of any sort. No pharmaceutical rep on the planet has ever walked out of a doctor’s office with a check."
"So what is a pharmaceutical sales rep or someone who wants to be one to do? First, open your eyes to the reality of the job. You will be in a stable industry, but one that won’t teach you closing skills you can easily take into other arenas."
Do you agree with the blogger on these points? - by Community Mailbox
If you consider most pharma reps then I would somewhat agree. Many of them run into a doctors office drop samples and get a signature and leave. They may get a 30 to 45 second to pass along any additional knowledge while the doc is scribbling his name. They get their ten to fifteen calls in and they are good.

However, I once went on a field ride with a pharma rep who sold two products. One was a pain type medicine and one was a wound care application. The rep was very good and on each and every call he probed for specific patient cases that would be good applications and the docs responded very well. In addition, he followed up with docs that had committed to using the product on patients. It was very expensive as drugs go and he was getting superior results that were reflected in the reporting that he gets. I would say this guy was selling beyond the second grade level of selling. - by Sell4alivn
I recently came across a blog post titled, "Is Pharma Really Sales?" where the blogger was suggesting that pharma is not sales and that pharmaceutical sales reps don't really sell.

Below are three quotes from the blog post that caught my eye.
"Sorry, but you don’t really sell. If you did, a doctor would buy a big box of meds from you, cut you a check and you would get a percentage. But that that doesn’t happen now does it?"
"In a way, pharma reps sell like second graders – which is a good thing. Pharma reps really do serve their customers by providing tools and great knowledge. But that’s where the Second Grade Selling ends, because there is no deal closing of any sort. No pharmaceutical rep on the planet has ever walked out of a doctor’s office with a check."
"So what is a pharmaceutical sales rep or someone who wants to be one to do? First, open your eyes to the reality of the job. You will be in a stable industry, but one that won’t teach you closing skills you can easily take into other arenas."
Do you agree with the blogger on these points?
I'll go along with the third point. That would be a bad thing if the primary objective was to prepare yourself for another arena which makes me ask what is the rep doing in this arena in the first place if he/she wants to be somewhere else.

On the second point I don't get that simile of "the second grader." Again, let's talk about primary objectives. Salespeople overcome indifference--that's their role. In the case of a pharmaceutical rep, the indifference often takes the form of the client medical group maintaining the status quo. Creating a strong presence, as the most efficient reps do, is a key to breaking that status quo where it does not favor the rep's company. It's called INFLUENCE.

The first point reveals a very narrow view on the part of the blogger. The physical act of "walking out with a check" does not define selling. Nor does a salesperson's compensation plan. - by Gary A Boye
"Sorry, but you donít really sell. If you did, a doctor would buy a big box of meds from you, cut you a check and you would get a percentage. But that that doesnít happen now does it?"

"In a way, pharma reps sell like second graders Ė which is a good thing. Pharma reps really do serve their customers by providing tools and great knowledge. But thatís where the Second Grade Selling ends, because there is no deal closing of any sort. No pharmaceutical rep on the planet has ever walked out of a doctorís office with a check."

"So what is a pharmaceutical sales rep or someone who wants to be one to do? First, open your eyes to the reality of the job. You will be in a stable industry, but one that wonít teach you closing skills you can easily take into other arenas."
For those who are serious about selling:

Missionary Sales - "These are representatives of the manufacturing companies who contact retailers and decision makers of companies in order to convince them that their product should be utilized. In a sense missionary salespeople "preach the gospel" of their goods, although they donít actually close any sales. For example, a drug pharmaceutical representative contacts doctors to convince them to use the companyís brand when prescribing select drugs." - USC Marshall School of Business

Obtaining Commitment - "A successful sales call will end with some sort of commitment from the customer. In smaller sales the commitment is usually in the form of a purchase, but in larger sales there may be a whole range of other commitments you have to obtain before you reach the order stage. Your call objective may, for example, be to get the customer's agreement to attend a product demonstration, or to test a new material..." - Neil Rackham (SPIN Selling) - by Jeff Blackwell
Saying that pharma is not really sales because you don't get a check from the doctor is like saying that selling construction material is not really sales because you don't get a check from the architect... - by Valentin R
I am of the opinion that the blogger demonstrates a tremendous ignorance about pharmaceutical selling.

This form of selling is no different from typical application selling that includes the skills to present a solution based on the client's needs, evidence the benefits, and close the sale through gaining commitment.

I know of many sales professionals, pharmaceutical or not, who do not earn a percentage of the sales value but work on different remuneration structures. Does that make them any less of a salesperson?

I also know of many pharmaceutical sales people who leave the doctor's office with an order or a check in the case of dispensing doctors. Does this mean that I live on another planet? - by rensia0303
I have several friends who are Pharma Reps, and I must say, they do not have to sell at all. For the most part, Reps are just information transferees to the doctors, just in case the doctor doesn't know all the specifics about a particular drug; such as side effects and etc... - by kenneth1
I have several friends who are Pharma Reps, and I must say, they do not have to sell at all. For the most part, Reps are just information transferees to the doctors, just in case the doctor doesn't know all the specifics about a particular drug; such as side effects and etc...
What would you want your friends to do so that they would meet your definition of selling? - by Gary A Boye
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