Advice for waiting room jockeys

October 1, 1998
Scott Lindholm

Pharmaceutical Representative

The waiting is the hardest part. Here's how to avoid wasting time.

Imagine driving to a high-writing physician, prepared to give outstanding details on every product. Upon arrival, you notice a late-model Ford Taurus with license plates from about 75 miles away and boxes like those used to hold pharmaceutical products piled in the back.

Another rep has beaten you to the office.

At this point, you have two choices: March right in and use superior product, people and persuasion skills and show both the other rep and the office how a real rep does it, or leave and come back later.

In the past week, at least three reps have chosen the former on me. One walked in and didn't acknowledge that I was even there. Another figured my presence was no big deal and tried to pump me for knowledge about the doctor.

Either way, in these days of strengthened pharmaceutical sales forces, perhaps it's time for a reminder as to why the smart rep leaves if another rep is in the office.

Why you should leave

The first reason is plain, old-fashioned courtesy.

It takes only five seconds to realize just how you would feel if another rep walked in while you were detailing the doctor. Given that, it shouldn't be a great leap to determine that another rep would feel the same way if you walked in on them.

The second reason is just as simple, although not as obvious: Physicians like to get paid.

Chances are that physicians prefer to see people who pay them as opposed to people who won't. As a result, if they start seeing too many pharmaceutical reps, they will either have to start seeing fewer patients or working longer.

If a physician is talking with another rep, what are the chances that he or she will want to spend time with you? Not good unless you give him or her a chance to see some patients by coming back later, at a more convenient time.

If you don't think courtesy is a sufficient reason to not walk in on other reps, let pure greed break you of the habit. Any physician will give you more time when there aren't five other reps lined up in front describing how their drugs are the most cost-effective in their class. As such, start paying attention to those cars and license plates in the parking lot and start coming back at a better time if someone has beaten you to an office.

Scott Lindholm is a senior sales representative with Glaxo Wellcome. He lives in Davenport, IA.

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