10 mistakes you should never make in a sales presentation

December 1, 2001
Jeff Rahmel

Pharmaceutical Representative

Most presentation mistakes made by representatives in the field are elementary and may be easily avoided.

Under the best of circumstances, the medical sales presentation is a potential minefield of interruptions, delays and misdirection. The carefully planned 10 minutes with the doctor may, with frightening speed, collapse into a disjointed series of questions and answers, with more problems created than solved. Even the best representatives blow a well-thought-out call on occasion. Most mistakes made by representatives in the field are elementary. Many fall into the following categories and may be easily avoided.

1. Increasing the speed of your speech. In our haste to deliver our product information to the medical professional, we often tend to deliver everything at hyper-speed. The tendency to go quickly is quite natural. After all, the doctor may be called away at any time – usually seconds before the crucial point is made. However, increasing the speed of your delivery throws off your timing and isn't natural. By slowing down, you have time to emphasize key points and engage the doctor in conversation. Remember, it is not necessary to verbally machine-gun the doctor. Going slowly is better.

2. Assuming the doctor knows everything. Given the exulted status now assigned to doctors, it is not surprising that many reps assume the doctor is aware of every kind, type and flavor of drug now on the market. Sadly, this is not true. Therefore, before starting a detail, it is best to presume that the doctor does not know you, your company, your product or your product's indications. Better to be safe than waste precious time detailing a drug for fungal infection, only to be told, "I thought your drug was used on hypertension."

3. Avoiding the use of a sales aid. Humans remember more if they see it than if they hear it. Always show your customers something!

4. Failing to match the pace of the presentation to the situation. If Dr. Jones invites you back to his private office, sits back in his chair with his feet on the desk and offers you a cup of coffee, recognize that the doctor is in no hurry and slow down. You have been afforded the rare opportunity for a long, quality detail. If, however, you catch Dr. Smith between patients writing a prescription (hopefully for your drug) and she indicates that you have 30 seconds, better not ask about the family. Get to it - fast. Circumstances dictate delivery speed and time.

5. Forgetting to ask for the order. Sounds simple, but how many times have you let the doctor slip away without asking her for the order? Remember, if you don't have the courage to ask her to write your drug, why would she have the courage to write it?

6. Confronting the doctor. As much as you would like to, never confront a doctor when challenged - you will only lose. Deflecting criticism and overcoming objections get the sale. Telling a doctor he doesn't know what he is talking about (even if he doesn't) only gets you the boot.

7. Not saying "thank you." Remember when your mother told you to always say "thank you"? Well, it still applies. Manners and courtesy never go out of style.

8. Forgetting to follow up. Remember that promise you made to the doctor about the study your company just completed? Forgot to get her a copy? Think she won't remember? Don't bet on it. If you promise to do something, do it. She will remember if you do and, more importantly, she'll remember if you don't.

9. Not being courteous or punctual. Again, manners count. You were promised an appointment at 11:00 a.m. This doctor is always late by at least 30 minutes, so you arrive at 11:25 a.m. No biggie. After all, who likes to sit in a waiting room? Surprise – the doctor is on time today, and you're out of luck. If you can't be there on time, call the office. They'll understand and happily reschedule.

10. Keeping your presentation the same. Talking about your drug in the same old way? Know what? It comes across in your presentation. Make a vow to change something when you feel yourself getting stale. Adding a new piece of literature or relating an experience from another office gives your sales call new life. Plus, it will make you and your drugs more appealing, interesting and saleable.

Avoiding these ten mistakes will make for a more successful and interesting sales presentation. PR

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