Buying process: Relevance to Pharma Sales


Marketing is basically Removal of Hitches (Temporary objections) between the Sales & Buying.

Buying & Selling are the most important steps in any drug’s life cycle. The more we understand the buying & selling process, the better we can make the marketing plan. And for that, we need to understand the hitches in buying & selling any drug.

Let’s see a simple buying process & then we will try to fit it into pharma product buying process.

Let’s understand with an example of Dr. X who has built a new clinic & now wants to dispense drugs in his OPD. Let’s see how he is going to use buying process. He is looking for a Lipid lowering drug (LLD) to be kept in his OPD for dispensing.

Step 1. Problem recognition: Dr. X understands that the patients of Obesity are increasing & reports usually show that there are a large no. of patients who require LLD in the prescription. The patients are of middle & higher income group who will visit his clinic for consultation. Dr. X analyzed that he needs LLD in his OPD for dispensing & also the cost of drug needs to be considered as the middle income & high income group both have their own Out of pocket spending capacities.

Problem Recognition statement from Dr. XI need a high quality LLD which is  efficacious, safe  & affordable to both high income & middle income group patients visiting the clinic.

Step 2. Information search: Dr X starts talking to drug companies to finalize the product which solves his problem recognition aspect. He searched the internet & asked companies for quotes. Also contacted a few Sales professionals of drug companies. In response to that, he received a lot of quotations with rates that varied from company to company.

Step 3. Evaluation of alternatives: Now the process to select the best LLD starts. There are a lot of factors that will work here, a few to mention are Company brand image, Other drugs from the company & their efficacy, Scientific data to support that drug efficacy & safety, usage pattern, Cost, Company credentials in terms of transparent dealing, credit period, Distributor channel, international & national share of voice for the LLD.

Step 4 & 5. Purchase decision & Purchase: After considering all these factors final decision is taken post negotiations with companies. Remember that the purchase decision is dependent on many factors & due to which the companies offering should offer the best in all attributes mentioned above in the Evaluation of alternatives. Finally, Dr X agrees to buy 2 LLD from 2 different companies. Company1, LLD1@Rs 24/- per pill & Company2, LLD2@Rs08/- per pill. Company1 is branded offering & company2 is a generic offering. Both companies agree to provide orders for 3 months as credit.

It’s not the purchase where the process stops, the last step is too crucial & should never be ignored.

Step 6. Post purchase evaluation: Dr. X starts using the drugs & measures the efficacy claimed by the companies. He finds that the safety & efficacy results of both drugs LLD1 Branded & LLD2 generic are same.

The company1 has very transparent process of billing, credit notes are settled on time & distributor supply of drugs is on time. Whereas company2 is providing credit notes which are not settled on time &  the distribution of drug is not on time. Sometimes patients are not getting the medications from the Clinic pharmacy.  Now in spite of  drug2 being cheaper & having same results, there are a few hitches that are creating a belief in Dr. X’s mind that company2 is not so good in its operations. So Dr. X starts looking out for a new company which can provide him generic version but without these hitches. Meanwhile he starts dispensing the Company1 LLD1 in his clinic.

The marketing & sales Dept. of company2 needs to analyze this Post-purchase behaviour of Dr X & must try to remove the hitches by providing the solutions for the credit notes, improper distribution & supply, Otherwise company2 is going to lose the business even when the LLD2 is efficacious & safe at par with LLD1.

Key takeaways:

  1. The sales & marketing team should design a buying process for every product & the Hitches should be removed at regular intervals because the buying process is multi-factorial.
  2. In a sales review meeting, sales & marketing teams should talk in terms of buying process steps. For example: If a new Company3 comes up in the market with LLD3 & the sales of LLD1 is impacted, the discussion between the sales team should be on the basis of analysis done on all steps of the buying process & which steps motivated Dr X to buy from company3. Post discussions, find solutions to the root cause & apply those solutions which have maximum impact.

Always remember Pareto’s Principle which says – 20% of the solutions provide 80% impact, so better be focused on those 20% solutions instead of those 80% solutions which will provide 20% impact.


Dr. Satish Gupta
A Pharma-addict

PharmaState Academy
PharmaState Academy is a Learning & Development Portal which is focused on Pharmaceutical Industry training needs.

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