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    What Makes a Good Pharmaceutical Sales Rep?

    Do you know what makes a great pharmaceutical sales rep? Is it knowledge? Skill? Education? Or Experience? If you are interested to know the answer, give this article a quick read because, within its short span, I’m going to outline a guideline, not a definite answer, to the question.

    In fact, there is no exact answer for this, only relevant answer since every company situation is as varies as the numbers of plants in the Amazon jungle.

    In general, there are 3 areas an excellent pharmaceutical sales representative has. They are attitude, knowledge, and skill. What you need to remember is that pharmaceutical sales rep skills can be learned, like closing sales skill for pharma selling.

    In this article, we're going to look at the 3 areas mentioned above, one by one. Let’s start with, probably, the most important of them all:

    • Attitude

    This is the most crucial criterion, and that’s why I intentionally put it on top.

    A saying I’m fond of repeating, which I got from an expert is, “Your attitude determines your altitude!” Now, if you’re wondering what that means, it essentially says that how far and high you can go in life, or career is highly influenced by your attitude.

    And attitude is basically is your belief about something that is translated into action.

    For example, if you believe that all fast food from Mc Donald is healthy; your attitude towards it whenever you are hungry is pretty predictable, right? The same goes to your career. Perhaps you believe all customers are always right; how would you react when they throw a rejection to you?

    Why bother when they are on the ‘right’ side?

    But one thing you must understand about attitude, which you can use it to your advantage is that you can CONTROL it. This is important because your opinion is influenced directly by how you interpret it.

    It’s not what happens to you that is important, but what you do with what happened.

    Next, we’re going to take a look at…

    • Knowledge

    This is self-explanatory.

    Knowledge is what you know and what you have learned all these years. It can be formal or informal. Here’s a good adage when it comes to knowledge: “A good decision comes from good judgment. Good judgment comes from experience, and experience is often the result of bad judgment!”
    Think about it.

    But you must know that knowledge is not created equal. What makes the experience useful is relevancy.

    For example, if you want to sell better, the knowledge on how to sell, how to close, or probably, how to prospect is highly relevant. Can you sell well if you only know about statistic? Maybe, but compare that to all the knowledge we mentioned previously; which makes the odds better for you?

    And the last attribute to consider for a good sales rep selling the pharmaceutical product is…

    • Skills

    Knowledge is power, so did people say, but I had to disagree because real power is in APPLIED learning. Education alone has potential but no power.

    It is evident that to use knowledge is to have skills, and skills come from practice. The more you practice, the more skills you have.

    For example, you know that prospecting is one of the most essential skills is selling. When you approach the right prospect, the chance for you to get a sale is higher compared to mere lead, or ‘suspect.’ But that alone is not enough. You have not translated that to real power.

    When you have been prospecting for customers in your area for more than a month, and you can tell which customers fit the ideal customers’ profile, you have power. And it comes from a month of practice. Multiply that by three or four or five; can you see the potential?

    Like I alluded earlier, these are not concise attribute for a first pharmaceutical sales rep. It probably requires more than these, but as a general guideline, my decade of experience tells me that these should do it.

    I remember when I interview candidates, during my Sales Management time; I find it amusing having to sort these criteria during a typical session. Yes, I had a guideline I can follow, and in that guideline, the clue to all these attributes is in their answer, which practically is just stories of their past.

    There are instances where a candidate meets all the criteria but end up leaving the company because of work problems, and there are others who look like they are not going to stick long, but they pull it off.

    And guess what’s makes all the difference?


    So if I were to answer what’s the most critical attributes to look for when recruiting excellent pharmaceutical sales representatives, I'd go with an attitude all the time, and I know, I cannot go wrong by doing what is right.

    Ultimately when selling, it’s not the customers’ attitude that’s going to influence a sale; it’s the sales persons’ attitude, which they have TOTAL control of.

    Does Reward Make Good Sales Reps?

    Reward, be it financial type like sales incentive, cash bonus, or another kind like incentive trip, car bonus, and the like is essential. In fact, many people want to build a sales career based on this factor alone.

    It reminds me of, what used to be, my daughter's favorite fast food outlet, founded by Colonel Sanders:


    What about it?

    Every time I take a bite on the crispy, crunchy fried chicken, my mind wonders to the place where the chicken came from ...

    ... The chicken farm.

    Do you know what happens to the chickens at the farm?

    They get feed - food palette, chowder, drink, and some say medicine, to speed up their growth.

    You already know what happens in the end.

    They got slaughtered!

    The reward they get is aimed for one thing only - to be turned into the raw material for crunchy, crispy fried chicken.

    Yum, yum ... It's finger licking good!

    Don't forget Hansel, brother to Gretel.

    In the classic folk tales, he was fed by the witch to add more meat covering his bone before he got tossed into the large pot, filled with boiling secret gravy.

    That almost happened, of course!

    Thanks to their wits, Hansel's life was spared, and perhaps, that's how the tale reach us today.

    Sales reps who set their eyes only for the reward, to me, is pretty much like the chickens at the farm and Hansel while being caged. Both just waiting for the moment to be put on the chopping board.

    I'm not saying, "Don't think about the reward."

    A reward is important:

    There's no mistake about that.

    But would reward alone turn you into high-performance sales reps?

    It's like asking:

    "Does the food palette and chowder and medicine make the chickens taste better?"

    Obviously not, right?

    Some "seasoned" sales reps are content with enough to get by. They're not ambitious about earning significant incentives or going for exotic incentive trips.

    They just want to be close to their loved ones with enough dough to take care of food and shelter ...

    ... No more, no less.

    They're not about financial reward anymore.

    If they have to whoop their a$$ to earn extra monetary reward and compromise their time with family or community, they won't hesitate to pass.

    Maybe I've reached that stage.

    I don't know.

    All these internal competition and giving shopping voucher, coffee voucher, electrical appliances, lunch treats with top management - all these are not compelling to my appetite right now.

    I know I'm a superb rep (wink!), but if I ever compete for these "insignificant," it's for the fun of racing.

    Nothing else.

    My time is too precious, to be spent on trivial I can quickly get on the street ;-)

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