Recently I gave a talk on Sales Storytelling at a leading Pharmaceutical Company. In preparation for this talk I researched on Pharma sales industry, spoke to a few pharma sales reps and doctors ( key client for pharma sales reps).
In this preparation, there are insights I discovered which I think can be of great use to the pharma sales industry and the stories they tell.
My previous blogs on sales have always positioned good sales people as trusted advisors to clients.
So, that is exactly where I started my preparation by looking at the pharma sales process and working out where exactly in this processs does the sales rep have the opportunity to be a trusted advisor? I struggled to find the answer and that led to a few questions I asked my self
Below is the conversation I had with Dr Tara
Me : “ Have you ever had an incident where a pharma sales rep became a trusted advisor to you? “
Dr Tara : “ A pharma sales rep can’t really be a trusted advisor because they have a vested interest in selling the drug to you”
Me :” I do not agree, because a pharma sales rep is like any other sales person who is there to sell you something. Let me give you an example. I have another client who sells predictive analytics solutions.
My client meets Mr Mahboob ( his client ) who runs a pipe manufacturing plant . The problem is that the plant’s efficiency is declining and customer complaints are increasing. My client asks some Diagnostic questions to Mr Mahboob and suggests that the machines need timely maintenance to avoid any breakdowns which really is the cause of declining efficiency and cutomer complaints. The key is to get the maintenance done at the right time and that can be worked out with our predictive analytics solutions.
So, you see my client is also selling their product and that is what their interest is.”
Dr Tara: Does your client who does predictive analytics also provides machine maintenance?
Dr Tara: There you go…. that is not vested interest then.
A penny dropped for ..
I came to a conclusion- when you sell a product there is limited scope to be a trusted advisor. When would a product sales person ever say – don’t buy my product. Hence, Pharma Sales Storytelling is vastly different and different types of stories need to be told in that sales process.
Me : Fine, I agree that there is limited scope to be a trusted advisor if you are a product sales person. Then what would make you buy from one rep over the other?
Dr Tara : Firstly, I would want to be certain that the drug is good and for that I would look to medical journals. Once I am convinced that the drug is good, it really comes down to,” which rep I have a relationship with which rep is able to explain the benefits and features better then the other”.
By the end of this conversation I was clear that
PRODUCT SALES STORYTELLING IS VASTLY DIFFERENT TO SOLUTION SALES STORYTELLING
and here are 2 things that pharma sales person needs to focus on when selling
1) Building relationships is very important in pharma sales whilst in solution sales, building Credibility via providing unique insights is of more importance. Get to see, in pharma sales conversations we really have limited opportunities to provide unique insights.
2) Benefits and features is an another area. All pharma reps speak of the metabolic composition of the drug, dosage, side effects and what not but those who storytell the benefits and features are the ones that become great sales reps.
I will be writing about methods of Building Relationships and Presenting Feature and Benefits with storytelling in my next blog.
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