Working as a medrep in charge of Ondo/Ekiti states was quite an experience that cannot leave me in a hurry. There were so many intrigues but, to a very large extent, the dynamics of the job was understood while I was in this twin region.
On my arrival, I literally hit the ground running, as I headed straight for all the key customers in the region, as advised by my district manager in order to introduce myself as the new medrep in the territory. As expected, some of these key customers had mixed feelings on hearing that the previous rep had been posted to another territory, understandably because a relationship had been established. Clearly, I knew this already established impression about the company had to be built on.
In any territory, the new medrep inherited “liabilities” and “assets”. For example, if there was any customer still yet to pay for stocks supplied, it became the responsibility of the new medrep on ground to follow up with the payment. As a matter of fact, the hallmark of a medrep that was seen to be “working” was that customers’ cheques were promptly collected and paid in, as and when due. Of course, that did not disregard the need for good detailing or selling skills and frequency of calls to be made daily.
One fundamental skill I believe every medrep needs to develop or improve upon is good relationship skills. Let’s face it, at times, your product lines can be so competitive such that your value proposition becomes your personality. The customer buys into you first before buying your product, except the doctor does not see the kind of patients your drug can attend to. The cheapest brands are not usually the market leaders. That is because other dynamics are involved in pushing a brand up. One of such is relationship skills.
As part of the obligations of medreps at the time, you had the responsibility of doing what was called mapping of the stakeholoders in your territory. Not all your customers deserve the bulk of your time, especially if they are Tier 2 or Tier 3. Your primary focus must be on the Tier 1 customers and ensure adequate loyalty programmes to keep the Super Target customers.
One important skill needed to be developed as a medrep is the need for a thorough understanding of the value chain in your sales journey. This is key because at times, the rate limiting step to you making doctor visits might just be the “old matron” at the unit, who believes that your coming to the clinic is not adding any value to the entire healthcare delivery.
The onus lies on you to change that impression and deliver value. You can break the ice with just a bit of humour or being courteous. Back then, we were given promotional materials or brand reminders. You will be shocked that just a pen and a jotter given to the nurse (matron) gives you “everlasting” access to any doctor you plan to see at the clinic on a particular clinic day. It is one major benefit of building a strong relationship with all stakeholders in the value chain of your sales journey.
I remember vividly that one of the big breaks I had with one of the key customers in the territory I worked then was the information I got from some of the sales boys under some kind of apprenticeship with this major customer.
I noticed that this customer, contrary to the kind of traffic I saw at his premises, was reluctant in giving me LPOs (Local Purchase Orders). Initially, I thought it was because he still had a lot of stocks which I believed that with consistent detailing, more prescriptions would help to mop up. Unfortunately for me, I didn’t realise that some other medreps within the system were sending stocks (products of the company) into my territory, silently. Naturally, that affected my sales and of course the risk of losing out on financial bonus was staring at you in the face, should you fail to meet up with your numbers. That is what good relationship skills can do to you as a medrep.
If you think that only nurses, doctors and pharmacists are what you need to hit the sales figures, you may not be fully correct – except, of course, your job description does not in any way allow you to interface with other categories of people.
So the big question is, how was I able to deal with this infiltration into my territory and block the leakages, so to speak?
Find out in the next edition. You don’t want to miss it.
MacJob O.E (@dipomacjob)