An Interview with a (very experienced) Specialty Representative

iStock_000009630568_FullWelcome to Installment #4 of the Interview Series “An Interview with….” where I interview an extremely experienced Specialty Representative from a traditional pharmaceutical company.  As you will see from the responses below, this is somebody who has been there and done that.  This person has held many positions within the industry and graciously brings those experiences to us here at TalkPharma.com.  I couldn’t be more pleased with the responses I am getting from all of my subscribers and visitors on our groundbreaking Interview Series.  Nowhere else will you find such a candid look into the pharmaceutical industry from dedicated pharmaceutical professionals.  The identities of our interviewees will remain private, with the aim of getting honest, open answers to simple questions.  We are pleased to bring you our fourth installment. Enjoy!!     

TalkPharma.com: You have been in the industry for quite sometime and have held various positions from Territory Representative all the way up to DM….how has the industry changed from your perspective during your tenure?
Specialty Representative: While there have been many changes throughout the years.  The most significant change is the almost extinct “Solo Practitioner.” When I first started as a Territory Sales Representative I had approximately 200 Healthcare Practitioners on my target panel.  Out of those 200, maybe 10-20% of them were apart of a group practice. These group practices usually consisted of no more than four physicians.  Nowadays, those percentages are reversed due to Healthcare Reform, increased cost, and the ever changing landscape of Managed Care.  Hospitals and Accountable Care Organizations are buying out the solo practitioner and creating extremely large networks that allow them to refer care within their network to multiple specialists, lower overhead costs, and create their own formulary structure.  In order for a sales representative to be successful they cannot just simply rely on selling to the individual Healthcare Practitioner but rather they must take an Account Management approach.  That means a sales professional must sell to each stakeholder in the organization that has influence over a prescription.

TalkPharma.com: What are some of the challenges you face with your day-to-day responsibilities as a Specialty Representative?
Specialty Representative: Balance, balance, balance… What I mean by that is I have multiple products to sell with less time to sell them.  Therefore, I must be strategic in my business planning and execution needs to be flawless.  I choose 3-5 product champions a quarter for each product that I will target more frequently than my usual weekly call-cycle.  These are usually those with enough market volume to make a positive impact on my business as well as have access to my products via Managed Care.  As they say… 80% of your business comes from 20% of your customers.  The next step is to see the lower volume HCP’s every 3-4 weeks to build your base of orescribers and make the necessary tweaks along the way.

TalkPharma.com: What do you enjoy most about your job and what do you like the least?
Specialty Representative: The most enjoyable part of my job are the networks and relationships I have created over the years.  I have been fortunate enough to meet some really talented professionals that have inspired and motivated me through the years.

While the pharmaceutical culture seems to be shifting for the better.  There is still a lack of trust from upper management, therefore they instill objective Key Performance Indicators that are really just a tool they use to see if  a rep is a hard worker or not.  They would be better served focusing on performance as opposed to calls per day and sample averages.  If you have the right personnel then they will make the right business decisions to get results.  After all, results are what matters, right!?

TalkPharma.com: If you could go back to that time where you made the decision to become a pharmaceutical sales professional….would you do it all over again? If so why? If not why?
Specialty Representative: Yes, without a doubt.  I learned a lot from a how to be a consultative sales professional to developing leadership skills.  However, I would have made a career change along the way a more account based sales position as I stated above those skill sets will be needed more and more over the coming years.

TalkPharma.com: In your opinion what is the future with the pharmaceutical industry?
Specialty Representative: There will be more consolidation as the smaller companies are acquired by the larger ones.  Eventually there will only be 10-20 companies that are highly specialized in different therapeutic categories as well as balance their business units between generics and branded.  It doesn’t pay for a large company to invest in R & D anymore therefore M & A’s are the future!

TalkPharma.com: If you could give one peice of advice to someone who wants to become a pharmaceutical sales professional what would it be?
Specialty Representative: This can be a rewarding and challenging position.  At the same time I always recommend regardless of the industry or position to do your research on the position and the company.  Network and reach out to other representatives and ask questions about the “Day in the Life” of a Pharmaceutical Sales Professional.  Additionally, be sure that you can embrace change as this industry continues to evolve.

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