How to Hire Staff That Will Help Your Pharmacy Succeed

pharmacy_salesperson_RMS_POSSummer is coming.  For most people this means putting away the sweaters, opening the sunroof on the way to work and firing up the grill for the first time in months.  But for retail pharmacies, summer can mean something very different.

College age employees may be heading home for the summer months, leaving a gap in staffing.  Or even better, pharmacies located in tourism heavy areas are about to get busier.  Either way, summer may mean that it’s time to hire some additional staff.  But how do you go about choosing the right people to work in your pharmacy?  What qualities offer the best fit for a position where employees need to offer great customer service while being successful salespeople?

For answers, we can turn to a recent study from Steve W. Martin on a few of the qualities that the best salespeople share, and then take a closer look at how to best leverage those qualities for success in your pharmacy.

Yes, your pharmacy staff are salespeople.  Let’s get this out of the way to start with.  Being a salesperson can sometimes come with some negative connotations. People automatically think used car salesman or pushy door to door salespeople peddling cosmetics or lawn maintenance.  But it doesn’t have to be that way, and the bottom line is that your pharmacy staff is responsible for making sales, and if you want more sales (and profits!), you have to stop thinking of the person that runs the front cash register as a clerk and start thinking of them as a salesperson.

Verbal Acuity.  Basically, your staff should be able to communicate on the same level that your customers are comfortable with.  (According to the study, most successful sales reps communicate between the 11th and 13th grade levels.)  In a specialized industry such as pharmacy, utilizing language that customers will understand is important.  Employees should be comfortable explaining products in a way that lets customers know they are well educated on the subject at hand without oversimplifying or making things overly complicated.  The customer needs to feel comfortable with your employee’s level of knowledge but should never feel as if they are being talked down to.  Train your employees so that they are knowledgeable about your products. When hiring, look for people that can easily adapt to working with different personality types.

Achievement Oriented Personality. This is no surprise. Successful salespeople are goal oriented and competitive.  Look for motivated team members that will strive to outperform expectations. (both yours and their own personal expectations) Once you’ve found this motivated employee, you need to provide them with tools that will help them to succeed and benchmarks to measure their success.  In a traditional sales setting, the study cites that high performers made good use of their CRM software.  In retail pharmacy, this is replaced with a robust POS system that will not only allow them to make effective use of their time, but will also track the sales that each employee is making.  It’s up to you to help your employees set challenging but achievable goals and then recognize that hard work. 

Situational Dominance. In retail pharmacy, situational dominance comes back to your employee’s knowledge and it means that your customers will accept your employee’s expertise.  This is especially important in healthcare as customers should always feel that your pharmacy staff are a resource and a vital part of their healthcare team.  Staff should be pro-active in every interaction rather than simply reacting to the situation. During the interview and hiring process, look for people that are confident without being condescending.

Inward Pessimism. Most salespeople will describe themselves as optimists.  Again, no surprise there.  What I did find surprising was that a good portion of salespeople have some pessimistic qualities.  In a business to business sales settings this has different connotations, but in retail pharmacy sales, I think this leads to a more thoughtful employee who will give each interaction the attention it deserves to help guarantee a loyal customer, rather than just assuming customers will continue to shop after a single positive experience.  It may be hard to peg down internal pessimism during the hiring process but you should be able to see it in how they handle customer interactions.

Remember that your employees are the face of your pharmacy business.  Hiring an employee that’s a good fit is important if you want your business to thrive.  Once you’ve found that wonderful new hire, make sure you keep them by giving them the tools and technology that will help them to shine. 

What traits or assets do you look for in a new pharmacy hire?  Please share below!