How Sales Reps Can Be Your Savior While Navigating COVID-19
Every industry across the globe has been impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, with some crumbling in an economic collapse and others adjusting to the new times. It is an uncertain time for some fields but one thing the coronavirus pandemic has reminded the world of is the importance of sustainable, accessible healthcare. As we slowly navigate this life-altering time, now more than ever, the world is reliant on every aspect of the healthcare industry to evolve and help more people.
One such cog in the healthcare machine whose job will become ever more important, albeit different from we’ve grown accustomed to, is the role of the medical sales rep. As a manufacturer’s ambassador, the sales rep is an independent agent who operates in the space where a company’s products and services meet the physicians and clinics in need of them. From the employer’s perspective, most reps are paid commission for their work, with few who take a draw (or advance) against future commissions. Fundamentally, a sales rep is an entrepreneur whose business is selling the manufacturer’s product. And because of that, it’s essential to understand this aspect of the sales rep/manufacturer relationship, as these entrepreneurs produce the best results for companies when they are sold on the integrity of the manufacturer they represent, the product(s) they sell, and the company’s vision.
Post COVID-19, we should expect companies to still lean on experienced sales reps who employ stronger digital strategies through platforms like Preferred Time, for example, but the sales rep’s ultimate objective of serving old and new clients through whichever product they represent will remain the same.
Why Work with a Rep?
The manufacturer needs a rep with experience (and a network to sell to) because that salesperson will bring your team access to potential clients a company wouldn’t be able to reach otherwise. Further, having an employee who works on commission and isn’t owed a set salary is attractive to both parties. The buyer, on the other, favors a sales rep because these are individuals they’ve often built trust and connections with.
So simply put, the sales rep helps his or her company distribute products and services at a low risk/cost, while creating new opportunities for a manufacturer that wouldn’t exist otherwise.
Challenges Between Reps and Manufacturers
There are often significant and considerable obstacles in building a smooth relationship between a rep and their manufacturer. Understanding and anticipating them can be the very thing that helps a manufacturer avoid them altogether and instead, create a partnership that is beneficial to all. First and foremost, both sides need to maintain and uphold their trust in each other.
Many manufacturers don’t invest much time in the training of new reps, they simply send them tutorials and training materials in hopes that the individual will get to work in the field sooner rather than later. The hope may be that the sooner a rep is out in the field, the sooner their sales will start rolling in. This isn’t a sustainable formula for longterm progress, rather it’s thorough, detailed, and attentive training specific to your product that can help your rep better inform the physicians they work with.
Finding and Selecting a Sales Rep
Consider the qualities you want in a particular rep, as they are the face of your company when they enter clinics and offices. What aligns with your company and the image you want to convey? But on top of that, any successful manufacturer will also take into account a potential rep’s existing client base and the types of products or devices they may have past experience selling.
The Future of Reps and COVID-19
The future of the medical sales rep’s role has been under speculation for some time now, with declining access to doctors and the availability of technology and information aimed at making the distribution of products more efficient. Of course, the call for social distancing practices and society’s reshaping of workflow in combatting COVID-19 has given more reason to think the sales rep may be a thing of the past. However, it’s not the sales rep who will disappear, simply their traditional methods of constant impromptu clinic visits and daily travel. The relationships reps build with physicians and clients are still just as valuable, and the evolution of the job will simply lead the industry toward more mobile and remote meetings, a greater need for the informed rep who can educate physicians, and more expertise in digital outreach and marketing. In 2019, AffinityMonitor found that even in the decline of physicians’ available time for reps, less than 10% of physicians actually engage in digital marketing, proving that the need for the person-to-person relationships afforded by the full-time sales rep will never truly go away.