Doctor, Doctor, Gimme The News

By Malcolm Fleschner

Wouldn’t it be great to be able to read physicians’ minds? Not only would you know the best time to meet with them and deliver your pitch, but you’d also know just which favored members of the nursing and office staff to butter up. Without ESP, however, you might just have to rely on the results of a 2001 survey asking primary care doctors what they like and don’t like about drug reps’ sales approaches. Here are a few of the physicians’ responses.

  • They need to be able to converse about the product and not regurgitate the canned detail piece the company prepared for them. The district managers need to look and listen when allowed to join the rep in my office. Too many times they make my rep the best ventriloquist in the country. I ask the rep a question or make a comment and the dummy answers. They need to listen to doctors and read our body language. When we say no, we mean it. I have quit being tolerant because reps seem to love to ignore polite rebuffs.
  • Tell me the name of your product, tell me what it is for and how it works and explain the side-effect profile and any contraindications. Tell me if it is on formularies of the plan I see most often. I have a three-phone call limit. If your product generates more than three phone calls from pharmacists demanding I change the script due to a non-formulary basis, I will never write that product again. My staff doesn’t have the time to deal with that any more than necessary, and I can’t remember which patient is on which formulary.
  • Tell me if your product is in the pharmacies in the area yet, and approximately how much it costs.
  • Stay in the assigned area of the office where the doctors come to you between patients if they have a minute. Never chase the doctor down in the hallways. Don’t even think about wandering into their private offices. One did that and it generated a prompt call to their regional manager disinviting that rep from ever returning to the office.
  • Stick to merely introducing the product and sampling us well. Definitely leave the speculative basic science stuff back in the car.
  • What I like are personable reps who respect my time and only give me a spiel when there is actually a new study or indication and leave me a reprint to look at later, if asked.
  • Leave me lots of free samples of medicines.
  • Don’t knock other companies and products. That’s a complete turn-off.
  • Here is what I don’t like: reps that tell me they have new info and give me marketing crap.