Accelerated Evolution

Adapting training techniques is necessary to thrive in the fast-changing dynamic of a physician's office
Feb 01, 2011

Scott Moldenhauer
Many years ago, Charles Darwin said, "It is not the strongest of the species that survives, but the one that is the most adaptable to change." Today, the same can be said of pharma's sales force. Survival is no longer about power and numbers. It is about adaptability.

For many years, there has been talk about upgrading pharma's sales force. In many ways, these upgrades are under way. Representatives are learning more about the increasingly complex forces shaping healthcare decisions, and sales reps also have access to more customer data than ever before. In other ways, however, there has been failure. Sales efforts continue to be thwarted by limited face time with physicians, managed care hurdles, and physician access restrictions. But there are new ways to help representatives adapt to the new selling environment.

Perfect the Hallway Call

Hallway calls represent a tremendous opportunity for sales organizations. These calls generally last two minutes or less, occur between patient visits, and account for up to 75 percent of the representative's day. While hallway calls provide less than ideal selling situations, they have become a permanent part of the selling environment. Hallway calls are here to stay, and sales leaders who can help representatives improve the effectiveness of hallway calls will reap big rewards.

Most hallway calls leave much to be desired. According to recent data, most representatives neither deliver a core message during hallway calls, nor do they display other fundamental sales behaviors desired by their companies. Most often, they talk about samples or upcoming speaker programs.

To understand why this happens, put yourself into the shoes of a sales representative. You are standing in a busy hallway waiting for the doctor to exit an exam room. As you wait, you realize that there are three patients in exam rooms and the doctor is running 20 minutes behind. You begin to ask yourself questions: Is this a good time? Should I bring up my product? Will I upset the doctor? In the end, you pass on the opportunity and move on to your next office.

Sales trainers can increase both the quality and frequency of hallway calls by helping representatives eliminate anxious hesitation. To do this, training departments must show sales representatives how to deliver calls briefly and in a way that makes both physician and representative comfortable.

The payoff for training successful hallway calls can be enormous. A representative who A) confidently strives for hallway interactions; B) possesses the ability to create hallway product discussions; and C) knows how to deliver a concise—yet effective—message can provide significant sales increases for any organization.

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