Christian Graf, Sales Director Austria at ratiopharm Arzneimittel Vertriebs-GmbH, on sales control, customer relationship management, digital marketing and how COVID-19 influences the pharmaceutical industry.
On Wednesday, November 11, 2020, the Marketing & Sales Management study programs of FHWien der WKW presented the online sales keynote “Current Challenges and Trends in Pharmaceutical Sales” with DI Christian Graf, Sales Director Austria at ratiopharm Arzneimittel Vertriebs-GmbH. Among the viewers was also a professional audience, which enriched the event with specific questions and a high level of interaction. Academic Coordinator Sales & CRM Marina Prem opened the keynote and also Thomas Schmidt, Head of the Bachelor’s program in Marketing & Sales, welcomed the participants with introductory words.
Christian Graf: Sales career in the pharmaceutical industry
The graduate computer scientist with more than 10 years of professional experience in the medical devices and pharmaceutical industries was himself active as a sales representative. In his career to date, he has held positions in the areas of sales force effectiveness, marketing, market access and sales management. The head of the sales team in the divisions Generics, Specialty as well as over-the-counter consumer products reported on current challenges and trends in pharmaceutical sales as well as on the impact of the COVID 19 pandemic on the pharmaceutical industry.
Digitalization is also advancing in the field service
Equipped with printed brochures and drug samples – this is how you imagine a visit by a pharmaceutical representative. In his keynote speech, Christian Graf explained that digitalization does not stop at the sales force. Data analysis, performance measurement and professional CRM systems have long since found their way into pharmaceutical sales. With great success, not only for customers such as doctors or pharmacies, who can be provided with target group-specific information based on the available data, but also for pharmaceutical companies, who can serve their target groups accurately and thus increase sales.
Today’s pharmaceutical representative is equipped with digital tools and can present the latest products via tablet and app, or receive the opt-in for the newsletter via a digital signature directly from his client. In times of COVID-19, video calling is also part of the normal interaction with the client. In addition, digital marketing managers take care of the pharmaceutical company’s own social media presence and serve the digital channels with customer-specific content.
Hoarding and hand washing – impact of the COVID 19 pandemic
Surely you can remember the first lockdown in March, supermarkets were almost empty, toilet paper became a scarce commodity. In his lecture, Christian Graf told us that the situation was similar with pharmaceuticals. The medicine cabinet was quickly stocked up and pharmacies were also haunted by panic buyers at that time. Pharmaceutical companies were able to record an immense increase in sales during this period and, like the pasta producers, were hardly able to meet the demand.
But the peak soon turned into a lull. Why? The Sales Director Austria cites two main reasons for this: firstly, the access restrictions in doctors’ practices during the lockdown, which resulted in fewer prescriptions, and secondly, the below-average demand for cold remedies. – It is flu season and how often have you had a cold at this time? Probably less than usual. That shows: Wearing a face mask and washing your hands regularly, coupled with social distancing, not only helps against COVID-19, but can even have a lasting impact on the pharmaceutical industry!
A great thank you to Christian Graf for this multifaceted insight into the pharmaceutical industry!
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