The Reincarnation of the Sales Rep
Jerome was a pharmaceutical sales rep during the 90’s, and his charismatic way made it easy for him to enjoy a fulfilling life. His sales practices allowed him to give doctors incentives for buying and using his company’s products; however, Jerome’s selling techniques were not unusual to the sales industry.
As the 20th Century came to a close, Jerome left pharmaceutical sales to follow another path. In 2014, Jerome found himself looking for a new career, and so he fell back into what he knew; pharmaceuticals.
Jerome knew that to win over doctors and hospitals that he was going to have to offer bigger “gifts” than his competition; maybe a week long all-expense trip to Hawaii for the first doctor willing to speak at a seminar.
He walked confidently into the hospital and Jerome’s entire plan was shut down. He wasn’t allowed to talk directly with a doctor. There would be no offers or incentives. Everything was monitored and tracked. The world had changed and Jerome fell behind.
But the change is not isolated to pharmaceutical sales. Reps from every industry had to change their tactics. What once was a tough industry to succeed in became even tougher. Amanda, for example, was a sales rep for a large medical supply company, and was let go after being reprimanded three different times for “gifting” alcohol to clients as a thank you.
A large industrial supply company no longer waits to see if their sales rep’s numbers will improve. If their numbers are under goal three months in a row, they are no longer employed by the company. Ten years ago, the same sales reps for the same company could have a bad year and then bounce back the following year. There wasn’t the turnover that there is today.
A government employee was written up and almost fired for taking a gift. All he did was accept a free pair of sunglasses that came with the purchase of a new drill, but since he was a government worker and the glasses were not on the PO, he couldn’t legally take them. The rules have changed, and incentives to buy from a certain supplier are gone.
How does a salesperson thrive in a world that dislikes them? Everyday solicitors call you, spam you, and send junk mail to you; and when a sales person shows up at your business, they are shown the door.
The funny thing is that most businesses have their own sales force trying to do their job, but they also have reps from other companies trying to sell to them. So why is okay to be unwelcoming to a sales rep from another company, but expect your sales person to be accepted with open arms when they’re out in the field? Isn’t that double standards?
As a business, how have your selling techniques changed over the years? As an employer, have the requirements for making sales goals changed with the times, and have you taken in account the stricter rules and regulations that come with sales?
How do we “weed out” the scammers and help make legitimate sales people successful?
April Salsbury, MBA is a strategist, an analyst, an operational guru, a recognized leader and C-suite global healthcare executive with drive and focus for competitive markets. Co-host of The Business Forum Show and regular contributor to various business journals, she possess multi-functional and multi-national competencies with more than 15 years experience in business and healthcare. Her expertise is in invigorating revenue growth and infusing value of lean practices in growing companies through improvements to cash flow and operations management.
Fueling revenue, growth and profit, Salsbury & Co. is a consultancy firm focused on helping businesses and healthcare organizations achieve excellency. Our specialists have executive experience combined with deep functional expertise to provide our clients with services that drive real impact and results.
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