Preparing Pharma Reps for Questions, Concerns & Objections

Posted by Mary Hiers, Guest Contributor on 4/2/15 7:00 AM

Pharma repsSuccessful pharmaceutical reps face concerns and objections in the field, but their pharmaceutical sales training and experience have taught them how to effectively prepare for and deal with objections. Nobody likes handling objections, but seeing them as hurdles or obstacles that are overcome with a "checkmate" statement isn't the solution. Overcoming objections is a process that may be simple in some cases and more complex in others.


Even when pharmaceutical sales training has adequately prepared the rep with sound technical knowledge about products, they may encounter objections such as, "The study was not based on real-world scenarios," or "We tried the drug and it didn't work as expected." It's not easy to view objections as opportunities to excel, but to the outstanding pharma rep, it can be exactly that.

Technical Knowledge Is Just the Start

The pharma rep is always armed with detailed, in-depth information about products, including study results, side effects, indications, and statistics. There's no substitute for having this kind of detailed knowledge, but alone it isn't enough to prevent or overcome objections. Often, objections occur because a client doesn't see a connection between a need and what the rep is proposing. The rep who is able to uncover and comprehend underlying needs and assist clients with seeing the link between their needs and the product offered is one who can prevent many objections at the outset. But sometimes that isn't enough.

Handling Technical Objections

When a healthcare provider presents a technical objection to a product, it's tempting to try to prove them wrong. But proving people wrong doesn't necessarily lead to a good outcome, which is for the provider to use the rep's product. It's better to redirect the conversation by acknowledging the objection and clarifying it. If there was a simple misunderstanding, it can be cleared up. Otherwise, knowing how to respond is key. For example, the rep can show product benefits that refute or minimize the objection or refer to third-party information to support claims. Handling technical objections isn't about winning arguments, but about clarifying and responding appropriately.

CLD Objection Handler

Handling Competition-Based Objections

Sometimes objections arise because a healthcare provider uses a competitor's product and is satisfied with it. Skilled product differentiation is the key to responding effectively to this type of objection. Pharmaceutical sales training can teach reps to express respect for the healthcare provider's opinion while showing that their product is preferable to the competitor's. This involves the rep bringing the provider's attention to additional benefits that are unique to the product he or she represents. For example, "Their antibiotic is effective. However, our antibiotic is a broader spectrum drug with a simple, five-day regimen that makes it easier for patients to comply."

When Reps Are Unsure Whether They Know the Answer

Sometimes reps are faced with an "objection" in the form of a question to which they don't know the answer. But sound pharmaceutical sales training can help reps handle these situations skillfully. The first step is to listen carefully to the question. Then, the rep can rephrase the question to make sure he or she understood correctly. Again, sometimes simple misunderstandings can be cleared up quickly. The rep should answer the question to the best of his or her ability, without trying to fill in knowledge gaps. Remaining objective and answering as thoroughly as possible while acknowledging a possible gap in knowledge ("I don't recall what percentage of study participants were over age 65.") will help maintain the client's respect.

Objections Are a Fact of Life for the Pharma Rep

Every pharma rep will encounter objections, and the ones with the pharmaceutical sales training that prepares them and helps them prevent and overcome them are the ones who will meet or exceed their goals. Reps must learn not to take objections personally, but understand the type of objection a healthcare provider may raise and be prepared to respond with relevant and appropriate information. Clarifying objections and questions up front can prevent simple misunderstandings and show the healthcare provider that the rep is listening and cares about their concerns.

Effective pharmaceutical sales training equips reps to not only demonstrate thorough understanding of their products, but also to prevent objections in some cases, and know how to handle them with skill and poise when they arise. CLD, Inc. helps trainers develop the skills pharma reps need every day in the field so they can meet their own and organizational goals. And we offer specific tools for helping reps learn to overcome objections. If you would like to know more, we invite you to check out our free online resources or contact us at any time. We are happy to answer any and all of your questions.

Topics: Objection Handling Pharmaceutical Sales Training