Do Manipulative Pharmaceutical Sales Techniques still work?
I’m curious and seriously don’t know the answer to this as it’s been a while since I’ve been in the field. As a VP of Sales (admittedly long ago) our management team continuously looked for training programs and techniques to help our sales force be more effective in the physician’s office. Some were pretty basic but others were just outright manipulative. I guess in the days of “reach and frequency,” “reminder detailing,” and unencumbered access we thought we were being cleaver and maybe they even worked to some extent. At the same time, I have to believe some of these types of techniques also contributed to physician frustration, resentment, and ultimately denied access.
The reason I am asking the question now is because I still see pharmaceutical sales training programs offering what appear to be decade’s old sales techniques that border on manipulative. Even back in the day when I was selling (admittedly even much longer ago) we learned about “closing the physician”, challenging them, and “getting them to commit.” I now wonder how much damage these basic sales tenants, combined with a few “tricks,” did in terms of our relationship with physicians. The reason I say this is because there is nothing more demeaning than to have a sales person try their manipulative sales pitch on you when you go to a store to buy something. The automobile industry learned this the hard way. You would think the pharmaceutical industry would have learned by now as well.
But, maybe these techniques and “tricks” still work. What do you think? More importantly, how do physicians feel about being sold this way?