At a time when sales reps are facing layoffs, marketing restrictions and shut physician doors, it's important to hand out kudos when they're due. And that's what a recent doctor poll has done. Rating pharma reps for the market researcher SDI, cardiologists named Pfizer's sales reps No. 1, with Merck's as No. 2. Rounding out the top five were Merck's Schering-Plough, AstraZeneca, and Novartis.
So just why did these 300 heart doctors rank the reps as they did? Most graded Pfizer first for several different attributes, including their product know-how, which they considered the most important quality of a good sales rep. Pfizer's sales folks also were No. 1 for the sensitivity to doctors' busy schedules, for their professional conduct, and for their drug-sample offerings. In fact, the only category in which Pfizer didn't rank first was in giving unbiased comparisons with competing products. Schering-Plough's cardiovascular sales force won that prize.
Merck captured second place by coming in second in all five categories, and by scoring well in overall quality and familiarity. In doing so, the company's cardiovascular sales reps jumped from sixth place overall in 2008 to this year's No. 2 ranking. Incidentally, the most-discussed brands were Pfizer's Lipitor and Caduet and Merck's Vytorin, Zetia and Cozaar.