Professional Persuasion:101

Pharmaceutical Executive

Pharmaceutical Executive, Pharmaceutical Executive-05-01-2005, Volume 0, Issue 0

The sales aid or detail piece tells the features and benefits about the product. The important marketing points are in bold print.

The Detail Piece

The sales aid or detail piece tells the features and benefits about the product. (See "The Detail Piece") The important marketing points are in bold print. These are the key words you need to use when you role-play presenting the detail piece in the interview. The summary of the marketing message is at the bottom of a one-page sales aid or at the back of a multiple-page sales aid. Use the summary to guide you through as you role-play doing a sales call in the interview.

Catherine Kaputa

Look at the detail piece for XYZ Eye Drops. You can immediately see the key points in the marketing message: "once a day," "safe," and "effective." This message is reflected throughout the detail piece. Notice words such as "quick response" and "pediatric use" (anything for pediatric use is very safe).

It's very effective to relate all the product features to patient benefits. For example, look at the dosing for XYZ Eye Drops in the sample detail piece. Once-a-day dosing is a feature of XYZ Eye Drops. You just need one drop a day compared to four or five drops a day for competitive eye drops. The benefit for the patient is convenience. XYZ Eye Drops are also approved for pediatric use. The benefit for the patient is safety. The following exercise takes you though a role-play presenting a detail piece so that you'll be comfortable doing it:

Lynn Zimmerman

Exercise: Role-Play Using the Detail Piece

Rep: Doctor, when your patients need a quick response to dry, itchy eyes, think XYZ Eye Drops first. XYZ Eye Drops are dosed once a day, which means it is very convenient for all patients, and it is approved for pediatric use, which means it is safe enough for patients as young as one-year-old. Studies have shown XYZ Eye Drops provide the greatest improvement in dry eyes within the first 48 hours of treatment. Doctor, have you had the opportunity to prescribe XYZ Eye Drops?

Learn the Secrets The Field-Tested, Combat-Ready Guide to Becoming a Pharmaceutical Sales Representative, by Catherine Kaputa and Lynn Zimmerman (iUniverse, 2005) is a book intended to help aspiring sales reps to prepare for job interviews, but the content of some chapters can also serve as training for new hires or refresher courses in essential skills for reps already in the field. In this (edited) excerpt, the authors offer role-playing exercises to remind reps of the finer points of using pharma s key sales instruments to promote a fictitious product, XYZ Eye Drops, to physicians: the detail piece, the clinical paper, and the package insert.

Doctor: No, I've been using Competitor B.

Rep: What do you like about Competitor B?

Doctor: Nothing in particular, it's probably more habit than anything special about the product.

THE DETAIL PIECE It takes reps only a few seconds to identify the key sales and marketing messages that they are expected to deliver.

Rep: Habits are a challenge to break. But your patients may find XYZ Eye Drops are easier to use. Dosing is once a day compared to four times a day for Competitor B. Have any of your patients told you they forget to use their eye drops?

Doctor: Yes, patients have complained about forgetting. Compliance is an issue with eye drops.

Rep: XYZ Eye Drops offer a much more convenient dosing schedule for patients and in a three-week, well-controlled trial, 98 percent of patients experienced relief of dry-eye symptoms within 48 hours.

Doctor: Mmm.

Rep: So, Doctor, what do you think about this information?

Doctor: Interesting.

Rep: XYZ Eye Drops offer your patients a fast onset of action, once daily dosing, and is safe enough for pediatric use. Doctor, do you think your patients would prefer a more convenient dosing schedule with a fast onset of action for their dry, itchy eyes?

Doctor: Probably, but what about managed care? Is it covered?

THE Clinical Paper After a quick read of the abstract, reps should be able to summarize the key findingsof a medical journal article.

Rep: I'm glad you asked that. XYZ Eye Drops are covered on all of your patient plans. And the American Academy of Ophthalmology guidelines state that once-daily dosing of eye drops is standard of care. So, Doctor, when you prescribe XYZ Eye Drops, you give your patients a fast onset of action, once- daily dosing, and an eye drop safe enough for pediatric use. Will you prescribe XYZ Eye Drops at your next opportunity?

Doctor: I can't think of any reason why I wouldn't.

Rep: Excellent. How many samples do you think you'll need for the next two weeks?

Try role-playing different scenarios like the one outlined above. Remember, a one-page detail piece is relatively easy to do. You can find a summary of the main marketing message at the top and near the bottom of the detail piece. If you are given a multi-page detail piece, you'll notice that each page focuses on a different feature and benefit. Look at the last page. There you will find the summary of the main points. Use this to guide you through the entire sales piece.

The Clinical Paper

Don't panic. If you've never seen a clinical paper before, and almost no one has before they work in the industry, the first place to look is the abstract, which is located on the front page of the clinical paper and is a summary of the key information and findings that are presented in it. At the top of the page is the title of the paper, the authors, the publishers, and other information. Then, the abstract has a summary of the key findings in the clinical paper.

Here are the ma in points to cover in your sales pitch using the abstract.

  • Title of paper

  • Author(s)

  • Publication (What journal is it published in?)

  • Date

  • Study design

  • Number of patients in study

  • Results

  • Key points (What are the selling points that strengthen the product benefits?)

The exercise below will take you through a practice role-play using a clinical paper covering the key findings in the clinical paper on XYZ Eye Drops.

Exercise: Role-Play Using the Clinical Paper Abstract

Rep: Doctor, in the past you've shared your concerns about overprescribing eyes drops for patients to the point of dependency.

THE Package Insert (PI) The "bible" of every product, information included in the PI is the only information a sales rep can provide to doctors. Anything else is off-label.

Doctor: That's correct. I prefer they don't use eye drops at all.

Rep: I understand. That's why I brought this study to share with you today. Do you have about three minutes for me to walk through the important points?

Doctor: Okay, but make it quick.

Rep: The title of the study is "Dry, Itchy Eye: Dependency on Eye Drops," by John Smith, MD and John Doe, MD. It appeared in the December 2004 issue of the ABC Journal of Medicine. It was 21-day, randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled, multi-center study. There were 345 patients, ages 1 to 52, with moderate to severe dry, itchy eyes. Patients were randomized to receive one drop per day of XYZ Eye Drops or placebo for 21 days. The endpoint measure was patient eye comfort. All patients reported improvement at 48 hours. Thirteen (13) patients continued to need XYZ Eye Drops on an as-needed basis. The remaining patients needed XYZ Eye Drops sporadically, based on the season and allergy flare-ups. Only two (2) patients reported a need for continual use.

Doctor: That's interesting.

Exercise: Role-Play Using the Clinical Paper Abstract (continued)

Rep: Doctor, does this information alleviate your concerns at all?

Doctor: Possibly.

Rep: Is there any other information you need to see to make you more comfortable prescribing eye drops?

Doctor: No, I guess not.

Rep: When your patients need relief from dry, itchy eyes, you can feel comfortable prescribing XYZ Eye Drops because it has a fast onset of action, is safe and effective, and has the most convenient dosing available. The guidelines of care for dry, itchy eyes state, "once-daily eye drops are the standard of care." Doctor, based on the information you've seen in this study, will you prescribe XYZ Eye Drops to your patients with dry, itchy eyes?"

Doctor: Yes. I will.

Rep: That's great. How many samples can I leave you today?

All of the information in the role-play above is clearly spelled out in the clinical paper on XYZ Eye Drops. (See "Clinical Paper")

Present these points and you've hit a home run. You can use a worksheet to break down a clinical paper into a compelling sales message. You can bullet point all the pertinent information from the clinical paper and finish your sales pitch with the marketing message of the product. Clinical papers are very powerful tools in detailing and provide the scientific results to support and reinforce the messages on the detail piece.

The Package Insert (PI)

The PI is the "bible" for a drug. It must be included in every box of samples left with a prescriber. The PI covers:

  • The Chemical Structure of the Drug

  • Clinical Pharmacology

  • Pharmacokinetics

  • Indications and Usage

  • Contraindications

  • Warnings

  • Precautions

  • Information for Patients

  • Lab Tests

  • Carcinogenesis, Mutagenesis, and Impairment of Fertility

  • Pregnancy Rating

  • Nursing Mother Precautions

  • Pediatric Use

  • Adverse Reactions

  • Overdosage

  • Dosage and Administration

  • How It's Supplied

The PI lists all the information that was required and approved by the FDA. In short, the PI is the labeling or prescribing information for a drug. The information approved on the PI is the only information a sales representative can provide to prescribers. It is an excellent resource and is often used in detailing by sales representatives when a prescriber asks questions like, "What does the PI say about visual disturbance with your drug?" "Have you ever heard of anyone getting a rash when using your drug?" You would look in the precautions and adverse events section for this information.

Sometimes a doctor will want to know more about a drug, or has a specific question not addressed in the PI. One thing you can do is send a request to the Drug Information Services department of your company for a literature search to answer these questions for the doctor.

The PI is also used in detailing by sales reps when comparing their drug to a competitor's drug. For example, you might compare the incidence of headache or gastric distress for your drug with a competitor's product. Often the PI has charts showing some of the more common side effects and the incidence of these side effects. Sometimes prescribers will ask how a side effect of your drug compares with your competitor. You can find out by comparing the PI for both drugs.

Catherine Kaputa is a career coach, personal branding strategist, and the founder of SelfBrand in New York. She can be reached at Catherine@selfbrand.com. Lynn Zimmerman is the founder and president of Pharma Mindshare, a sales training and consulting company specializing in the pharma industry, in Montgomery Village, Maryland. She can be reached at lynn@pharmamindshare.com.