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eyeforpharma recently published an article discussing how medical sales representatives will need to update their skills to match customer needs.

The medical sales representative of the futre

Here’s an excerpt featuring Karen Bell, Business Development Director at Ashfield.

‘The role of the sales representative is one that has perhaps seen more change over the last two decades than any other – and the evolution is showing no sign of slowing.

“The role of the sales rep is changing very quickly,” says Gonzalo Rodriguez, Region Europe Sales Excellence Head at Novartis. “Information is very easily available and this means that reps cannot focus on simply informing about products or ‘selling’ in the traditional sense of pushing products to physicians to get them to prescribe.”

The reach of patient-centricity is so great it is even influencing this most customer-facing of roles. “Companies now need to consider how they keep the patient in mind at every step and are increasingly required to clearly demonstrate how their medicines benefit the patient,” says Karen Bell, Business Development Director at Ashfield.

Closer to home, in the shift from volume to value, sales reps are at the sharp end as new selling practices emerge, changing the traditional sales model. “The sales rep’s role will continue to evolve as a new balance will appear between the product promotion and the product-linked services/solutions promotion,” says Celine Genty, VP Customer Excellence EMEA at Janssen.

To ensure that medical sales representaitves continue to deliver commercial success, companies across pharma are looking at their recruitment and selection criteria, as well as ensuring their training and development keeps up with a new set of skills, capabilities and performance goals.

From sales rep to solution provider?

The future sales rep will be expected to handle a much larger and more diverse customer base – becoming key industry partners to patients, prescribers, and payers – and to seamlessly switch between functional hats and operate across various engagement channels. From product information experts, sales reps are morphing into multi-dimensional customer solution providers, but how will the role shape up over the coming years?

The work of the pharmaceutical sales rep is expanding to include business support to customers, says Anthony Francomme, Head of Business Excellence France at Sanofi Genzyme. “The role of sales force effectiveness/excellence teams will evolve away from technical and analytical topics to bring advice and added value to BU heads and sales directors” he says.

This is a long way from simply ensuring they meet prescription targets – now sales reps are expected to anticipate and meet the needs of HCPs and other customers. “Sales reps of the future will need to be competent and comfortable in engaging with payers, providers, and clinicians on a range of topics,” says Bell, emphasising that reps will need the flexibility to adapt to different customer needs. The customer service representative, focused purely on providing value to patients, will also be a key role of the future.

Reps will also need the skills to switch from one customer-facing hat to another. “Today’s representatives need to understand the agendas of local health economies in some detail, and be able to articulate a strong value proposition to a diverse range of stakeholders,” says Bell. The role of the sales rep in the future will encompass the ability to identify opportunities that create value for customers AND for the company, while also considering the professional boundaries of the regulatory and compliance framework.

“Companies need to recruit, train and develop individuals who are easily able to plan and deliver a multichannel approach to their interactions with customers, as well as being confident and proficient with both technology and the delivery of sales calls through the remote channels. Future sales teams will be staffed with ‘hybrid’ pharmaceutical sales reps “where there is a mixture of face-to-face and e-detailing activities,” she adds.

However, as hybrid reps become more common, they will only be effective “if companies give careful consideration to the type of individuals suitable for this role, provide ongoing training and development opportunities, and implement a robust strategy for a multichannel approach,” says Bell.

If you have any questions or would like to find out more about Ashfield’s medical sales teams, please email

The full article was originally published on Please click here to read.

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