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Why Are The Seasoned Pharma Sales Reps Struggling? 7 Reasons To Answer

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A quick look at the 2019 Pharmaceutical Sales Reps Salary Report:

  • The Pharmaceutical sales reps hit record-breaking salary increases with nearly $10,000 in average total compensation.
  • The three-fourth of the sales reps are satisfied with their earnings.
  • The experienced players in the field are earning $60,000 more than novice reps.
The salary figures are impressive! Isn’t it?

It’s enough to attract talent and make them work as pharma sales reps. But, the alluring 5-figure salary won’t keep the sales reps job fascinating for the long run due to the emerging challenges. The technology advancement that has brought positive changes in the field, it has also made the job of sales reps tougher.

Before the digitization of the pharma marketing strategies, the DTC (direct-to-consumer) advertising was quite effective in making the patients understand the benefits and risks of the medication. Even, the research had proven that DTC ads are not just increasing the awareness of drugs, but enhancing the doctor-patient relationship. It has taken off the heavy work from the shoulders of sales reps.

The era of warm-welcoming of the sales reps in physicians’ office is over and the marketing playbook is rewritten with the growing technology adoption by the patients and doctors. Thereafter, the life of sales reps became acutely distressed with the demanding job.

Intrigued to know the factors that are exhausting the sales reps and taking a great deal of perseverance to get the job done. Here is the answer:

1. Physicians reluctance to meet sales reps

The sales reps pour in the efforts and time to drive through all the “No’s” on the road to “Yes.” But, when the rejection is encountered at the time of accessing to the doctor, it puts off the sales reps at the first point of the sales journey. The pharma intelligence reports state that there is a gradual decline in physician access is observed in the last six years in the USA. Even, some of the physicians have put restrictions on rep visits in place due to the increasing number of patients to consult and administrative work to handle.  

However, it’s not like that the physician doesn’t want to receive information regarding drugs from the pharma companies, but they like to engage with reps through alternative digital channels such as mobile. It would be wondering to see that the face time that reps have in communicating with the physician is not more than two minutes, which is less to connect, communicate, and convince the physician.

It’s a sign the current marketing model needs innovative changes to improve the physicians’ accessibility.

2. Face-to-face meetings become uninteresting

The in-person meeting with the physician is the only difficult step wherein the scare of rejection discourage the reps. The reps should not take failure as a disgrace, instead of as an opportunity to learn from the mistakes.   

Nowadays, the reps blaming partly to the younger physicians who prefer to get news through digital channels. For instance, the physicians are browsing the websites to search for drug information, find clinical trial information, patient assistance material, and pretty more. It’s the case of sales reps visit to the physician before or after the call. It suggests the pharma companies build the website with the right dose of information in context.

When the face-to-face meeting arranged, the physicians expect an integrated approach for the communication where the reps should use digital as a complementary tool such as using mobile sales force automation software to show research or answer the questions. On the flip side, when rep approaches the physicians with canned presentation and providing the same data about which physicians are already aware of, then physicians won’t find the rep as a valuable source of information. The success rates can be amplified when reps are armed with the necessary technology, tools, and resources.

3. The bar of Competition is raised

A decade before, a handful of the pharma companies are manufacturing and distributing the drugs in the market, which means the limited number of reps trying to connect with the physicians. Presently, the situation is changed with thousands of companies placing the bet and trying the best to sell the drugs.

That’s why the physicians are receiving a call, email, or in-person meeting request from the reps after every hour. The bombardment of messages or various ways to get connected with the physician is one of the reasons for the physicians declining access to reps.

Due to the cutting-edge competition, making the physician remember the reps and the drug presented, and establishing a relationship is a hard nut to crack in. The reps should use unique tactics (Offer fresh data like latest advancements that physicians like to hear) to stand out the presentation and make the communication memorable for building and bolstering the relationship with physicians that last decades.

4. Zero customization in presentation

Every industry has witnessed a dramatic increase in sales and ROI with the delivery of personalized services and products. The pharma segment in the healthcare industry is no exception where the physician acting as a customer for the sales reps needs to be approached uniquely.

Sadly, most of the pharma reps reach the physicians with the same script that won’t serve the unique needs of the physicians. The reps are highly focused on the spiel that they carry with them irrespective of whether the presentation is leaving a mark on the physician or not. Conclusively, the visits seem repetitive and adding no value to the discussion that can compel the physician to give a thought to. It becomes challenging to make the physician consider new drugs.

In place of sticking to the same routine, the reps should tailor the approach (Create an explainer video and show the tablet) when they are reaching out the physician to ensure the information they present, it must serve the specific needs of the physician. Understand the need and desire of each physician and then deliver the info through the preferred communication channel such as video, reprint, webinar, e-detailing, or email.

5. Freebies don’t allure the physicians anymore

Have you ever said no to the freebies offered to you? Certainly, the answer will be no. Everyone loves getting things at no cost. The free drug samples that reps offered to the physicians as welcome kit were warmly-accepted by them a decade ago. But, the government has put an end to the free sample offering concept by banning the demonization of drug sample and considering them as taxable income.

This is why the marketing gimmick to influence the physician and make the patient purchase more drugs works no more. It’s like another tool that reps have in the arsenal works becomes ineffective.

6. Physicians are taught to say no

It’s a bewildering fact, but true that physicians have extra classes in the medical colleges where they are taught how to keep the reps outside the hospital, put off the patient when they ask about the specific drug, prefer to opt for effective drug rather than highly advertised drug, convince the patients for the drugs with its benefits, and leave the patient when they insist to take the desired drug of their choice.

It’s devastating for the reps. The medical colleges are cooking a recipe of disaster for the reps. That’s going to make the job of reps hard than before.  

7. Limited information accessibility makes it hard to win

The sales reps are responsible to close the deal, but they are most often stay uninformed about the advancements going in the industry. The pervasive problem is no different with pharma sales reps who are kept at a distance from the data like- the newest products, the latest research, what the competition is up to, and legislative changes.

who are kept at a distance from the data like- the newest products, the latest research, what the competition is up to, and legislative changes.

Not having accurate information never led the reps to perform to the peak efficiency because they are not offering the fresh data to the physicians, which in turn, don’t allow them to stay relevant and present the data in an engaging format during communication. The data must be made available to the sales reps as soon as its authenticity is confirmed.


The harder the conflict, the more glorious the triumph,” Thomas Paine said.

The quote perfectly gets fit with the scenario of pharma sales reps that are facing incremental changes day after another with the technology progress. The declining access to physicians, intensifying digital preferences to gain the information, restriction on the practice of sampling, limited information accessibility, and little-to-no personalization of promotional efforts have made it difficult for the sales reps to knock the physicians’ doors and share the voice.

But fortune favors the bold. The reps that have made the combining efforts such as reaching out the physician at the right time with the right presentation format through the right communication channel they have raised a toast to success with a strong relationship with the physicians and getting more physicians in the row. Leverage smart tactics and digital intelligence to become a great influencer.

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Salestrip SFA is a best in class online pharma reporting software for medical representatives.


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