January 15, 2022 | Contract Sales

How Medical Sales Reps Can Reach Doctors in the Wake of COVID-19

Medical sales representatives have an enormous impact on the success of their respective companies. When medical sales reps are successful, the businesses they represent will increase their sales and grow. When unsuccessful, their companies may struggle to maintain net positive growth—especially if their customer attrition rates are high.

Pandemics like the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak make medical sales even more challenging for a company’s field sales teams. What are the challenges of medical sales during a pandemic? More importantly, how can your field sales team overcome these challenges to reach doctors and other decision-makers in the healthcare industry?

The Challenges of Medical Sales During a Pandemic

Sales outreach efforts during the COVID-19 pandemic have become even more difficult than before for many field sales teams. For example, doctors who once might have happily considered a face-to-face meeting (the bread and butter tactic of many pharma sales reps), may now reconsider their willingness to meet with pharma sales reps.

According to data from an InCrowdNow survey conducted in June, only 13% of doctors surveyed during the pandemic stated that they planned to have an in-person meeting with a pharma sales rep in the next 30 days. 9% said that they would consider one in the next 60 days, 12% said they would do so in the next 90 days, and 25% wouldn’t consider such a meeting until 2021. One survey respondent from the 2021 category stated that “It’s unnecessary to bring someone into the hospital, especially when they’re going from facility to facility — I’m concerned for vector.”

Even without the risk of the coronavirus over people’s heads, medical sales reps have been experiencing increasing difficulty in getting face-to-face time with doctors and other key decision-makers in recent years. Some of the issues and challenges that field sales teams have had to overcome in recent years include:

  • The Risk of Spreading Contagious Disease. In the InCrowdNow survey, one respondent stated that they were “concerned for vector,” as the medical sales rep could become a vector for disease. Because of this risk, many doctors and other decision-makers decline in-person meeting invitations during a pandemic.
  • The Perception of Scandal. In past years, some pharmaceutical sales teams were accused of giving doctors bribes (in the form of free lunches, samples, and luxuries) to prescribe their products. Doctors wishing to avoid the perception of scandals that might cost them patients will often decline meetings with medical sales reps in any form.
  • Doctors and Decision Makers Being Too Busy for In-Person Meetings. During the coronavirus pandemic, a small percentage (2%) of doctors surveyed by InCrowdNow stated that they would never be comfortable with in-person meetings again, with one example response saying the reason why was that “[There are] no benefits to in-person. They disrupt my schedule and it’s rude to make a patient wait longer to listen to what is (no matter how it’s spun) advertising.”
  • An Increasingly Aware Public. Many health insurance providers actively inform their customers about how to request generic alternatives to name-brand medications to save money. This can make it harder for doctors to prescribe more expensive medications, which impacts pharma sales reps.

How can companies in the healthcare industry prepare for the future of pharmaceutical sales? Here are a few tips on how to be the best pharmaceutical sales rep that sales managers can use on their teams.

Tips for How Medical Sales Reps Can Reach Doctors Throughout the COVID-19 Outbreak

So, how can medical sales reps reach doctors and other decision-makers in healthcare businesses? Here are a few tips that can help:

  • Expand Medical Sales Rep Training Programs. Medical sales rep training programs can help salespeople polish their skills and bring them up to date with the latest trends and strategies that comply with industry regulations. With the advent of the internet, pharmaceutical sales training is easier to access than ever. For example, articles featured on Pharmavoice.com highlight how e-learning platforms provide “opportunities for our sales representatives and sales managers to access important knowledge-based information on demand via the internet from any location.” Also, it’s important to assess field sales teams on a broad range of skills to help them become better sales reps. As the Pharmavoice.com article notes: “the wise trainer assesses his or her students on a broad range of skills throughout the training process.”
  • Identify and Focus on the Prospect’s Needs. What does the prospect need, and how can your products/services address those needs? This is the basic question that sales reps need to be able to answer. At the end of the day, the prospect, whether they’re a doctor or other decision-maker, is the one whose medical business is on the line—and if the products/services being pushed don’t help, then the prospect won’t care about them. So, it’s important to identify the prospect’s needs and focus on how the product or service being sold addresses those needs to keep the prospect’s interest.
  • Use Multiple Communication Channels with Prospects. There are many ways to reach out to doctors and other key decision-makers in the healthcare industry these days—and different prospects may respond better to some communication channels than others. Examples of communication channels include phone calls, emails, regular mail, in-person meetings, virtual meetings, text messages, and faxes. When one communication channel doesn’t work with a prospect, another might. So, it’s important to apply multiple communication methods with each prospect before giving up and declaring the lead “lost.”
  • Ask Prospects Questions about Their Needs. The fastest way for a field sales rep to learn about a prospect’s needs and pain points is to ask them directly. Asking things like “What’s your most frequent diagnosis?” or “How do you prefer to be contacted?” can help field sales teams learn how to customize their approach and make the prospect feel more valued—helping to build a better long-term business relationship. Additionally, during situations like the COVID-19 outbreak, decision-makers may have different priorities than they did prior to the outbreak. Asking questions about how recent events have impacted their business can help medical sales representatives craft a better, more customized sales pitch and process for coronavirus-impacted healthcare businesses.

What if I Need Sales Team Expertise Right Now?

Are you having difficulty building out your sales team, but need to scale up sales efforts right now? It might be a good time to consider using an outsourced medical sales team.

Axxelus has a deep pool of medical sales talent that is kept up-to-date with the latest sales strategies and trends for the healthcare industry and can be accessed quickly to expand your field sales teams. Each outsourced medical sales team member is recruited, trained, and managed by Axxelus, so you can sit back and focus on more value-added tasks for your business.

Reach out to Axxelus today to learn more about medical sales outsourcing and how it can benefit your business!

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