If a pharmacy has never used one of my savings cards/vouchers, I will often ask them to pull up an imaginary patient at the
register and do a mock fill to see how the card would be correctly applied. I apply this same principal to free product vouchers.
Cashiers can also give you valuable information about the cash price of your products as well as the products of your competitors.
The majority of pharmaceutical reps spend very little time, if any, calling on pharmacies; thus the reason these interactions
are often awkward. Putting pharmacies right into a sales route will quickly give you a competitive edge in each pharmacy,
because they will be familiar and comfortable with you since you are the rep they see the most. Consistent messaging will
also ensure that they make a connection between you and your products when they are filling them. This can mean the difference
between a discount card or free voucher being applied or not.
Asking for the Business
Pharmacists and even pharmacy technicians can exercise a great deal of discretion when it comes to filling a prescription.
In addition to having the authority to offer a generic version to the patient, they may also have to call a doctor's office
and inform them that the prescribed product is not available (or too expensive) for the patient. There may be two or more
options in the same class that are available to the patient, so ask for the business there. Once the appropriate relationships
are in place, I always ask my pharmacy employees something such as, "If a patient cannot get product X, and my product is
available to them, when you call the doctor's office will you inform them that my product is available to the patient?" The
pharmacy or doctor's office may also be unwilling to complete a prior authorization for a competitor's product, so if your
product does not require one, ask them to inform the doctor's office of this, too.
Knowing What's Important
Just like any of your other customers, it's important to know what matters to your pharmacies. For example, if their primary
concern is keeping patients satisfied, then position your value cards/vouchers in a way that will ensure patients leave happy
with the best medicines at the lowest possible price. If they are concerned with efficiency and going home on time, then re-enforce
the great accessibility of your products without prior authorization.
Feedback and Success Stories
One of the best measures of the success of a comprehensive pharmacy sales program is direct feedback from the pharmacy employees
themselves. A pharmacy tech can be a patient's hero by saving a patient several hundred dollars on a prescription. They will
undoubtedly share these stories with you if you simply ask. Feedback may come from other sources as well. I have had physicians
tell me that a pharmacist was boasting to them about the ease of one of my savings programs. Additionally, I've had other
pharmaceutical reps tell me that they overheard a conversation in a pharmacy where one employee was educating another about
the savings card for one of my products.
Choose at least one person in each pharmacy that can be an advocate for you and your products. Typically, this will be the
person with whom you have the best rapport. It's unlikely that every employee will understand—or even care about—your products
and the various programs associated with them. Having at least one person who fully understands and can champion your products
and programs in your absence will make a huge difference. This person will likely educate the rest of the employees if you
ask them to.
Pharmacies remain an underutilized resource for most pharmaceutical sales forces. Many veteran reps still find that interactions
with pharmacists, pharmacy technicians, and cashiers seem unproductive and even awkward. Yet, in a market that is being bombarded
by cheap generic options, pharmacies can exercise a great deal of authority in determining exactly what medication a patient
receives and even how much they pay for it. Consider how your current sales approach could benefit from implementing a comprehensive
pharmacy selling strategy that gives your team a competitive edge.
Justin McCarthy is a pharmaceutical sales specialist at AstraZeneca. He can be reached at email@example.com