Pharmacies are Our Friends - Pharmaceutical Executive

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Pharmacies are Our Friends
An underutilized sales resource, pharmacies and their staffs can help lead to improved scrip fulfillment and increased business


Pharmaceutical Executive


Register Utilization

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.

Consistency

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.

Advocacy

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


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