An Interview with a Account Manager in Specialty Pharma is a site intended to bring pharmaceutical professionals together, give you all a place to connect, get good information from your peers, and also to help that young professional who is thinking of enetering the industry gain some important perspective on the industry.  It is with those thoughts in mind that we are embarking on our interview series titled….

An Interview With….

In the interview series, we will do our best to get the insights of people who have been in various positions throughout their career in the pharmaceutical industry and ask them general questions about their thoughts on the current state of the pharma industry and the future of the industry.  Because we have kept the identities of our interviewees private, this will give you real insights into their minds and their true feelings.  In some cases you will see positive responses and other cases negative…the intended purpose is to bring you the truth about the industry.  We are pleased to bring you our first installment which is an interview with an Account Manager in Specialty Pharma. Enjoy!! What are your thoughts on the current state of the Pharmaceutical Industry?
Account Manager: My thoughts on the current state are the Pharmaceutical Industry are somewhat mixed. I believe that the landscape has been changing for quite sometime. There are areas that are uncontrollable (i.e. Affordable Care Act, Coverage, socio-economics, etc…) And then there are the issues that we have created ourselves. My role is still based on conversations with HCPs and institutions. More and more, lack of access continues to be an issue. That being said, there are amazing advances within certain disease states that are not only going to be profitable, but they are going to make a difference is peoples lives. It is a fascinating time to be working within the industry.  For a young professional who is thinking about enetering Pharma Sales…..what advice would you give?
Account Manager: My advice for a young professional thinking of entering Pharmaceutical Sales would be to gain as much true sales experience as they could. True sales people take time to know their customer, who they are and what they do and why. They take the time to learn all they can about a client / customer. The conversation should be about them, not us. We have two ears and one mouth for a reason. A true sales person understands this. “Sales” is a skill that is not acquired through pharma training, reading and test taking. It is about another human being wanting to talk with you because they relate to you and find you easy to speak with. It is about “toward” behaviors rather than “away” behaviors, bringing people in towards you to converse rather than watching them move awkwardly.  How has the Pharma Industry changed in your opinion over the length of your career?
Account Manager: The industry has changed dramatically over the last decade or so. Most of the larger pharma companies, also known as “big pharma” will make statements and claims that they recognize these changes. They have and or will be adjusting their “sales model”.  In my opinion, for the most part, this could not be further from the truth. No one can argue with the results of the traditional pharmaceutical sales model: multiple reps “detailing” the product (show up and throw up utilizing a one size fits all detail message / visual aid) to as many physicians per day as they could, mixed in with sampling and speaker programs. This business model was incredibly successful for a long period of time, however, the landscape has changed. There are many changes and many reasons why companies should be adapting to these changes but unfortunately, the majority of the folks that hold the upper management / executive leadership positions are from the traditional times. It is hard to teach an old dog new tricks and many of the larger pharma companies are run by old dogs. When the going gets tough, it is human nature for most to revert back into what is most natural, what they have always done in the past. Gone is the passion for people, research, development and innovation. These have been replaced with the world of “me too” drugs where the focus is purely on trying to capture some share of the market in order to turn as much profit as can be made. If and when that does not work (and the stock price dips due to lack of pipeline) and your customer can not prescribe the new branded “extended release” version of your drug that recently went generic, simply “reorganzie” (a nice pharma spin of the word layoff), cut costs to allow the stock price to jump back up. All the while, promote a “patient-centered” approach yet never actually realizing why your customer (patient and HCP) is not interested in meeting with your reps any longer and continually failing to understand THEIR world. Failing to know them, what drives them, what motivates them, how they treat their patients. Far too often, the “detail” or “presentation” will revert back into the rep telling the HCP about them / their drug rather than what they can do to help and how their drug may help to meet a need of the office. Times have changed and will continue to change. The companies that truly adapt to the change and embrace it, will be the ones that move forward in a partnership with their HCP’s.  If you could go back and do it all over again….would this be the industry that you choose again, and if not why?
Account Manager: If I could go back and do it all over again I would have studied harder in school !

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