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Healthy Skepticism Library item: 20583

Warning: This library includes all items relevant to health product marketing that we are aware of regardless of quality. Often we do not agree with all or part of the contents.


Publication type: news

Bowie C
Sales reps struggling with the new NHS environment
Pharma Times 2013 Aug 30

Full text:

Just 20% of representatives taking part in a recent cross-industry benchmarking competition feel very well informed about the NHS changes, according to a new Sales Insights report from PharmaTimes.

Although 60% feel reasonably informed, worryingly, 20% do not feel sufficiently well informed and, by way of example, only 50% are aware of the role of the health and wellbeing boards.

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This translated into their calls with doctors. Although the majority of both primary and secondary care representatives demonstrated a very high level of understanding of their disease area, up to 12% were judged not sufficiently competent in terms of understanding other products in the therapy area, and did not demonstrate the expected level of understanding of the environment in which the doctor was working.

However, whereas some representatives were highly motivated and well equipped to deal with the latest NHS changes, others said they had lost confidence in management to provide appropriate direction through these complex marketplace changes.

Additionally, some representatives describe a company move to an account management model with a clearly ‘joined up’ strategy and implementation, while others feel their organisations have simply ‘jumped on the account management bandwagon’ without apparent strategy or adequate training, support and implementation.

The two common characteristics shared by most of the representatives, however, were enthusiasm and passion for establishing relationships with customers and the strongly held belief that their role enables them to make a real contribution to the improvement of patient care. They become frustrated when they encounter what they perceive to be sub-optimal patient care as a result of organisational change or an agenda driven too strongly by cost.

Overall, the gap between the best representatives and the rest widened this year, with the top performers doing better than top performers last year, but with the poorest performers remaining at an unacceptable level – particularly in terms of summarising the discussions and checking for doctor understanding, closing the call and asking for action and demonstrating a win:win:win for doctor, patient and company.

Around 10% of the hospital specialist representatives struggled in this area and this figure increased dramatically to nearly 40% of the primary care representatives.

Yet unless the doctor is able to assimilate the information from the call and see a benefit for the patient and for the practice, he or she is very unlikely to take any action as a result. On average the doctors expect that about 50% of calls will have a major impact on their thinking with respect to the specific product being discussed. So the perception of healthcare professionals – made in just 15 minutes – has a potentially huge impact on company performance and product uptake. Not only are the lower performers not helping, they may actually be harming the company, its reputation and its success.

These data were generated as part of the PharmaTimes Sales Awards, where sales professionals are nominated and judged by their customers. This year’s Sales Insights report benchmarks the performance of representatives from 40 companies operating in the UK. This is the largest cross company competition of its kind and the only truly external opportunity to benchmark sales performance. For more information and to register your interest in purchasing the report, which can also be personalised for your company, contact


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