Everything I need to know about pharma sales I learned in kindergarten

November 1, 2000
Betty D. Vu

Pharmaceutical Representative

I have been in pharmaceutical sales for less than a year, and the following are the things that I've learned.

I have been in pharmaceutical sales for less than a year, and the following are the things that I've learned. I did not learn them from books, videos, photocopied handouts or colorful PowerPoint presentations. Surprisingly, everything I needed to know about pharmaceutical sales I learned in kindergarten.

Respect others. As reps, we must appreciate the few precious moments a doctor gives us. Do not stomp your foot, pout or bellyache, or the doctor is likely to show you out. Give the doctor his or her space and show that you appreciate any attention he or she gives you. This will lend you favor the next time you visit that office, and the doctor will remember that you were the rep with manners.

Play fair. As tempting as it is to remove your competitors' literature from the waiting room or shove their samples into the back of the drug closet, remember that they have the same rights as you do. Violating these rights may result in the doctor's refusal to see sales reps or take samples. This will penalize everyone.

Take turns. Remember to practice good etiquette. There are enough selling challenges in a day without tripping over yourself to beat another representative to the doctor's door. The physician's office is not a battleground. Be polite and graceful when asserting your turn, as this will cause less disruption in the doctor's office and get you further in the door.

Raise your hand. Say hello to everyone and make eye contact. Your sincerity will attract attention and admiration from those you meet in the field. As a friendly gesture, greetings and salutations can make your day much more pleasant and upbeat. This positive attitude will be carried over in your demeanor and in your selling message.

Share. Nothing can be gained from pocketing your sales ideas and successes. By conveying information to your peers, a wealth of knowledge can be shared, learned and appreciated. You can open the eyes of another or have yours opened. Everyone needs help selling; lend it or take it.

Know your ABCs. "A" is for attention. Pay attention to details about a doctor and his or her staff's likes, dislikes, interests and hobbies; this will help you build a bridge to a long, successful relationship. "B" is for belief. If you do not believe in the value that your drug holds for patients, you will have a difficult time convincing your doctors to prescribe. Your passion and conviction will be your biggest ally. "C" is for courtesy. Always be courteous to everyone you meet in a physician's office – you never know what doors they can open for you.

Color inside the lines. As demanding and competitive as our jobs are, there is no reason to violate any codes, break any rules or engage in anything shady when it comes to your sales practices. You were chosen for the job because of your professionalism. By setting high morals and ethical standards for yourself, you will gain respect from your peers and your competitors.

Connect the dots. Make connections between the drugs you represent and the benefits that result from use. Although statistics in clinical trials are important, make them real for the doctor by connecting the drug to its impact on human lives.

Remember to NAP: Network "A" Physicians. Share with your doctors the names of those physicians who are supporters of your drug, and encourage them to seek peer reviews. Remember that other doctors' testimonies will help lend credibility to your drug as a first line choice. Some of your reluctant doctors may be more apt to prescribe your drug if they know that other local doctors are using your products and discovering success in the treatments.

And finally…Recite the Pledge. I pledge my allegiance to my drug, for what it stands, one patent, under the FDA, indoctrinate, with features and benefits for all. PR

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