Scott Burrows

Scott Burrows, Pharmaceutical Sales Speaker

There are Bigger Obstacles than Price


When I deliver pharma keynote presentations to sales reps, I sometimes point out that there are much bigger sales obstacles than overcoming objections to price. My comment may be met with disbelief and denial.

My concern is that the pharmaceutical industry has been so inundated with negativity about pricing that many Pharma Sales reps believe that they are doomed. I will admit, it’s an easy target. For example, let me take everyone back to those ancient times of December 2021, and an article appearing in the Washington Post that not only politicized the pricing issues, but reduced the extremely complex topic to convenient talking points.

The lead paragraph of the piece set the tone:

“The pharmaceutical industry relies on drug-pricing practices that are ‘unsustainable, unjustified and unfair,’ according to findings from a nearly three-year investigation by the House Oversight Committee.”

One of the contentions of the piece was that R&D and manufacturing costs are used as an excuse by the pharmaceutical industry. Essentially, that the industry is lying when it talks about its problems. For some reason, suggested by the piece, all of the other manufacturing headaches faced by every other industry are somehow absent from pharmaceuticals. We know this is untrue.

In addition, unlike the U.S. automotive industry, for example, where a company’s 2023 model might have modifications over a 2022 model, the pharmaceutical industry has to not only innovate radically different models, but possibly, new manufacturing processes, new fuels, new roads and invent new drivers!

Sales Calls Should NOT Include Apologies

Pharmaceutical Technology, January 2021, showed 8 trends for 2022, placing U.S. drug pricing up near the top of the challenges. The pricing section of the piece concluded:

“With potential value-based pricing constantly on the [political] agenda, the pharmaceutical industry will be watching carefully in 2022 to make sure it does not win the battle but lose the war in what remains a critical market for revenues, margins and innovation.”

No one in the pharma industry should ever internalize that sales calls are about apologies over substance.

To be honest, I don’t recall once in the past year, an apology uttered at my car dealership, real estate broker, airline or coffee shop for that matter, that prices have risen.

In this industry, as any other, there are bigger obstacles to pharma sales than price. In fact, there are at least three obstacles far more difficult to climb. Do you know them?

Do you have the mindset to see your mission as far more than someone who sells a product? In many cases, you represent a medication that will save a life, prolong a life, comfort the life of a patient and their friends and families.

Do you have the vision to see you and your team as the best in the industry? Will you go the extra lengths to provide unequaled customer service and support? It is easy, of course, to nod “yes,” but quite another thing to bring it into your wheelhouse. Whatever pharmaceutical or medical device you sell, don’t be better, be best.

Finally, are you determined to have the drive and the “grit” to encompass excellence into everything you do, every day?

Price will always be a pharmaceutical sales issue because it is an easy point of attack. You will overcome the pricing objections providing you overcome self-doubt.


Scott Burrows, Pharma Sales Keynote Speaker. For more information, please contact Scott today or through this website or for more immediate attention at: 520 – 548 – 1169.

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