The pharmaceutical industry is one of the growing sectors of Bangladesh economy. It contributes 1% to the country’s GDP and is the third largest industry regarding contribution to government revenue. The current market size is about 12,100 million with having almost persistently double-digit growth. The market is almost self-sufficient in meeting local demand as 97% of the drugs are manufactured locally and is exporting to 92 countries. There are 267 licensed pharmaceutical companies in Bangladesh for manufacturing the pharmaceutical products. The prescriptions of doctors principally drive the market, and company personnel tries to motivate doctors to prescribe their company brands by personal selling, clinical meetings, seminars, symposia, etc..
Medical sales representatives, commonly known as ‘reps’ are a strategic link between healthcare professionals and pharmaceutical companies. They promote the sale of the products manufactured by their employer companies. The products include medicines, prescription drugs and medical equipment, which are being promoted to a full range of professionals from pharmacists and nurses to general practitioners and hospital doctors. They work very tactfully to increase the awareness and use as well as sells of promoted products.
During recruitment, employers prefers science graduates with relaxation the criteria by experience and company ranking. After hiring, usually, companies train them to be presentable in regards to the company marketing policy, which is mostly dominated by marketing and human resource department. After the successful training period, reps are appointed in the vacant territory of the company, provided with sample carrying bag, motorbike, mobile handset and a SIM card. The graduates in the field of life sciences, pharmacy, medicine, nursing, and dentistry get extra attention during the appointment as a rep. A business or marketing degree may also be helpful, especially if accompanied by some knowledge of medical sales.
Unlike the other jobs, reps are bound to pass a very busy life, and they have to perform the bi-phasic duty. Phase-1 starts at 8 am when they have to report their bosses for daily work plan as well as previous day sells and call performance for about half to one hour. Then, they move to their working institutional gate to convey greetings with their fixed physicians while they enter into their offices in the morning. After that, they prepare themselves adequately to make calls to the targeted physicians with targeted products by detailing or presenting materials supplied by the marketing department of the company. During entering into the physician’s chamber for making a call, most of the time, they have to satisfy the attendant of the physician, gatekeeper of the hospital, sister attending the physicians and others who have accessibility to the physicians to the extent of motivation.
In Bangladesh, their life is not so smooth, and their job satisfaction is also not very high. They have to work with very strict sales target, which is often refreshed monthly and a constant push from the marketing department of the company. Nevertheless, they poor have their job security. If they can’t reach the target, they are transferred to another section and sometimes may lose their job.
Their process of selling involves getting in touch with the potential customers and detecting their necessities. They do not sell products directly to buyers as the vendors do, rather patients pay for prescription drugs, and physicians control their access. They persuade the physicians to prescribe particular drugs from their companies and ensure that they are following their guidelines. To keep the doctors motivated on their companies, they offer gifts adjusting with the rank, a number of regular patients and social status of the physicians; on behalf of the company marketing strategy. It is firmly believed that, increasing visits by medical representatives increase the prescription rate of a particular drug. They are trained well to assess physicians’ personalities, drug preference, and practice styles. They remember the physicians’ family life, professional interests, and important occasions to celebrate important occasions and thus keeping them motivated. Broadly, reps arrange appointments with doctors, pharmacists, and hospital medical teams, which include pre-arranged appointments or regular ‘cold’ calling: make presentations to physicians and pharmacists in the retail sector. They also organize CMEs, conferences for doctors and other medical staff; building and maintaining positive working relationships with medical staff and supporting administrative staff; keep detailed records of all contacts; reach (and if possible exceeding) annual sales targets; plan work schedules and weekly, monthly timetables; regularly attending company meetings. They have to keep themselves up to date with the latest clinical data supplied by the company, and interpret, present and discuss this data with health professionals during presentations. They also have to monitor competitor activity and competitors’ products; maintain knowledge of new developments in the National Health Service (NHS), anticipate potential negative and positive impacts on the business and adapting strategy accordingly.
The profession provides benefits to the reps in different angles such as monthly fixed salary, incentives for target achievements, yearly bonus, quarterly bonus, trips for the achievers and other such monetary benefits that vary from a company to another company. The reps also get mobile allowances, transport allowances, and other such field work related benefits. Companies arrange regular training for the personal development of reps. Promotion to superior responsibility, salary and facility structure grossly vary from a company to another company. Many pharmaceutical companies are multinational, providing some opportunities to work abroad.
As the pharmaceutical companies hard regarding sales target achievement from the medical representatives without considering their personal life, medical representatives are not completely satisfied in most cases.
Medical reps have a significant role in the company growth, and they are working in a hyper-competitive market in Bangladesh with intense sales pressure, rare holiday, massive job insecurity and very little time to be with family.