A Marriage of Sales and Marketing
"Doctors are not classical customers," said Jean-Paul Montel, Director of Worldwide Health Services for sales training and development consultancy Mercuri International. Physicians are resistant to change, and understanding their level of resistance is the key to developing customer relations. This was the key message of a presentation at the September 21, PMCQ meeting by Montel and Mercuri International North America President Jean-Pierre Lemaitre. They discussed how Sales and Marketing could work together to "make a difference by giving added value to the doctors." They emphasized the need for innovative solutions to bring products to market by better training of the sales force and strategic targeting of physicians.
Physicians have used the [competitor's] product for ten or 15 years Montel told his audience. "They know exactly what to do to treat people. When they switch from one product to another, they change their whole protocol. That's why, for a certain therapeutic class, they are not very open to change products."
Physician resistance occurs at many levels. Some physicians don't treat the patient group for which the drug is indicated. Some physicians feel uncomfortable working with a particular drug company, some with treating specific medical conditions. Some don't feel the class of medication to which a drug belongs is the best solution. If your drug is indicated for that condition, no amount of pointing out its competitive advantages is going to sell that particular physician.
The sales rep needs to ask the right questions to classify physicians according to their level of resistance. By providing Sales and Marketing with this information, the concentration of sales for specific products as well as the investment of time and money can be allocated effectively and sales reps can be trained in effective selling that is tailored to individual physicians according to their needs.
By Jadzia Jagiellowicz
Principal of The Medanalyses Group, providing medical writing services to the pharma industry
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