Trade Management

In a world with ever changing needs and demands, especially amongst a global pandemic, issues with the availability of prescription medications continue to challenge the industry. The last words you want to hear as a patient, pharmacist, or sales representative are “out of stock”. The following tips and best practices can help reduce the chances of an issue to begin with:

It starts with the wholesaler

  • Daily monitoring of inventory at the wholesale warehouse ensures accurate inventory checks and information in real time. This is the foundation where problems can originate or be prevented.
  • Pay attention to forecast, forecasting can and should be your ally in terms of ordering and communicating about supply needs
  • Have an escalation process. The chain of command from patient to wholesaler is like a literal game of telephone — the message can easily be distorted, miscommunicated, or dropped off entirely. Set your team up for success with a planned out process for when an issue does arise. Here are a few questions to consider when designing such a plan:
    • How are issues being communicated?
    • Who is involved in the communication process?
    • Who is responsible for seeing the message through to the right audience?
    • Who is responsible for follow up?
    • How is your team managing situational errors

Communication is key

  • Wholesalers should have proactive communication to buyers when stock falls below critical level
  • Oftentimes, when an issue does arise, it’s something that can be remedied with simple communication, such as a spelling error at the pharmacy level. The faster these can be communicated, the better.
  • Build a standard of excellence in terms of your communication. Your team of communicators should understand pharmacy distribution and trends, prepare scripts, and be willing to call pharmacies seeking resolutions to simple problems. For example, if you’ve learned from one pharmacy that a spelling error continues to lead to an “out of stock” response, create a script for representatives that includes this information and prevents the issue from even happening.

Managing a pharmacy out-of-stock

While the above recommendations can help reduce the chances of an availability issue, a number of external factors remain out of our control.

When a pharmacy does experience an out-of-stock, there’s a typical escalation process that occurs: the sales rep notifies the district manager who notifies the regional director who then flags it to the head of sales until it’s eventually escalated to the trade manager. That’s a lot of escalation levels. Not only does this take a significant amount of time, slowing down the speed of resolution, it’s also a major distraction for the sales team and details tend to get lost along the way.

Thankfully, there are tools that exist to help derail this typical out-of-stock process for a better and faster one, like the Two Labs Trade Issues Resolution app. It allows sales reps to immediately share out-of-stock issues directly with the trade director, skipping the time consuming escalation levels in between. In less than two minutes, our tool allows sales reps to submit trade issues for triage using a digital escalation form. It also offers capabilities to resolve product listing and other EHR issues sales teams encounter when physicians can’t find products for e-prescribing.

Beyond causing fewer headaches overall, streamlining out-of-stock resolutions with trade management tools lead to:

  • Improved Patient Experience: Not only does it help increase the speed of availability, it also allows pharmacies and/or physicians to provide quick updates on the arrival status of a drug, leading to reduced stress.
  • Reduced Sales Force Noise: Because details get straight to the trade director, the sales rep who escalated the issue can rest assured it’s being handled quickly, meaning there’s less chance the issue hits “emergency” status. Fewer people pulled in means a less distracted sales force — every trade manager’s goal.

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