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The Elements of Pharmaceutical Selling

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There is little doubt as to the importance of a technically sound, focused, full presentation of a product. A product is sold best when it's benefits and applications can be described in-depth; however, there will be occasions when a customer just does not have that much time. Nonetheless, in order to be successful, every call must result in a presentation and close.

Therefore, if you are prepared, know your stuff, have identified the doctor's needs, and are motivated to give a full presentation because you believe in your products, you will be successful. Yet, there are times when this might not happen your customer may simply be too busy to see you. Those are the times to use an abridged presentation. But be cautious, for these are very limited circumstances-don't fool yourself into believing that you can get away with abridged presentations on a regular basis. Even though the doctor may want you to believe this, and the staff certainly wants you in and out, make no mistake about it: the more detail a representative can get into, the better his or her performance.

Of course, this does not mean that instead of a 10-minute presentation you can give a 20-minute one and double your sales or give a 30-minute presentation and triple your sales. It's questionable whether a targeted customer can afford to sit around for half an hour anyway. But what is important is delivering the message developed by your manager and team at your last strategy session.

I suggest that there are three different types of presentations:
  1. Full presentation, as planned at district strategy meetings, covering all salient points, plenty of benefits described, and (hopefully) discussion and interaction with the physician.

  2. Semi-abridged presentation, as may occur during the launch of a new product. A lot of time is spent presenting the new product and therefore other items may not be afforded full coverage. Yet a major product can, at times, be effectively sold if the presentation developed concentrates on one key point (e.g., the doctor has an older clientele, so addressing only the renal safety issue might be appropriate; or if the practice is largely African-American, addressing only the lack of sodium retention in the latest study). As always, the close completes the representation!

  3. Abridged presentation, for the signature-only situation. Again, careful analysis of the doctor and his or her needs and practice is critical. Here the goal is a feature, a benefit, and the close! This can be done in any situation-hospital corridor, elevator, or sample closet. Again, this is not the desired approach, but it is still miles ahead of a mere smile and query about the weather.
Again, make no mistake about it: Time spent with the doctor translates directly into success. Do not short-change yourself by thinking you are gaining points with the doctor by being quick and concise, particularly if your close competitor is giving full-blown, detailed presentations. You may be consistently encouraged by the office staff, the doctor, and certainly your competitors to be brief. Everybody is happy that you are heading for the door sooner, but doing that will not get you bonuses and promotions! You will never please everyone all the time, and will even probably annoy a few people, but that's life and business. Whatever the situation, do your absolute best to remember the basics of successful presentations, and good things will surely follow!


Closing is, without a doubt, the single most important selling skill. This is the edge of the selling sword, for nothing happens until the sale is closed. It doesn't matter how good the relationship is or how perfect the presentation unless the business is gained. The only way to achieve this is to close effectively.

When to close?
  1. At the end of the presentation, everything has been said, data presented, objections handled and all that is left is the commitment. It is impossible to get this far and not conclude, closing is without a doubt the logical finish.

  2. The customer ends the sales call. Don't leave the call incomplete. Ensure that something is gained: information, agreement to continue, or better yet, some form of commitment. No better way to end a call than with a close-what's the option good bye?

  3. At a strong buying sign. Probably the best time of all! Your customer is pleased and is ready to buy-never miss this opportunity!

  4. After handling an objection. Most representatives state that they are most effective when they get into a conversation. So don't scare the doctor off-that's why they won't talk to us. For example, if he uses product X don't say "well what about the associated rash, "instead try" the advantage of our product is that it won't cause a rash." Don't put your customer on the defensive, product X may be his all time favorite! Be positive and not critical, promote the advantages of your product.

Lastly, analyze the presentation itself. A technically sound and focused presentation addressing the specific needs of a customer will lead to an easy close. If the close is awkward or uncomfortable, then insufficient preparation has been made. Review your strategy, adjust the presentation, and close again!

Types off closes
  1. The moon and stars-asking for everything! Doesn't always happen but when it does the rewards are unforgettable. In this scenario the physician has committed to using your product for every applicable patient that walks in the office. This is truly the pinnacle of selling and the crowning achievement of an outstanding product or rather because of an outstanding sales presentation.

  2. Increase specification and usage. If you can't get it all, take just a little. Broaden the current prescription base by adding an additional indication or patient type. Clearly most of the time this is the close utilized, but over time continue this process and the end result may well be the moon and stars!

  3. In lieu of an older product or competitor. Switch! Same specification but with your product. An excellent way to gain rapid acceptance particularly if there are therapeutic advantages, fewer side effects or lower cost.

  4. Continue what the customer is now doing. Asking to do this is a commitment, of course, but it will not grow business. Utilize this only in the case where a product may fall out of favor or be removed from a formulary list.

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