The Death Of The Sales Rep Is Greatly Exaggerated

The Death Of The Sales Rep Is Greatly Exaggerated

December 6th, 2011 // 2:16 pm @

As the marketing teams in the pharmaceutical industry twist themselves into pretzels trying to rework their sales efforts, a fundamental premise has been that the sales rep is going the way of Willy Loman. Or at least, most reps As always, there are numerous surveys to measure the trend, sometimes yielding differing results, and the latest shows that many doctors actually still like seeing reps.

The newest effort, however, attempts to take a more global approach by querying docs in 38 countries, including countries – France, Germany, Italy, Spain, the UK, Brazil, Russia, India, China, the US and Japan. The upshot? Nearly 94 percent of docs, both general practitioners and specialists, find rep calls useful and valuable to their practice.

To break it down, one-third of this group report reps are very useful and of value, while 60.5 percent say somewhat useful and of value. The remainder say reps are not at all useful or of value, according to Cegedim Strategic Data, which conducted the survey and based it on more than 5.6 million product detailing mentions.

Among specific countries, docs in Russia and Brazil says rep calls are “very useful and of value,” responses of 47.7 percent and 46 percent, respectively. Less than 1 percent of Russian docs say rep calls are “not at all useful.” By contrast, only 17 percent of Japanese docs say reps are very useful, perhaps due to e-detailing, Cegedim speculates. About 75 percent say reps are somewhat useful.

Similarly, docs in France and Italy – two other developed markets – reps are not seen as particularly worthwhile. In France, 15.4 percent of the docs say reps are not at all useful or of value, and in Italy, the percentage was 9.3 percent. However, Cegedim points out that overall usefulness still remains high at 85 percent and 91 percent, respectively.

What about the US? Nearly 98 percent of the docs find rep calls to be useful, of which 44 percent say the reps are very useful and 2.1 percent saying not at all useful.

In China, meanwhile, 31 percent say reps are very useful, and 63.4 percent report reps are somewhat useful, with 5.5 percent saying reps are not at all useful. Interestingly, Cegedim notes that the number of reps in China has doubled since 2006 – there were about 60,000 at the beginning of 2011 – which means there are more reps in China than anywhere else in the world, except the US.

Another point worth noting is that, in so-called emerging markets, there are varying degrees of oversight of promotional practices, including what sales reps are doing. This suggests that value may be perceived differently in different countries, especially as drugmakers race to further beef up their marketing teams in such countries as China, India, Brazil and Russia, and regulators try to keep up.

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