How to make a powerful impact in two minutes or less

August 1, 2001
Evonne Weinhaus, Randy Gay
Pharmaceutical Representative

See how you can incorporate these five B's in some of your two-minute-or-less encounters with physicians.

Are you one of those reps who try to squeeze out every moment they can with physicians? Do you measure your success by how much time you manage to spend in their presence? If that kind of approach is working for you, go for it. If not, see how you can incorporate these five B's in some of your two-minute-or-less encounters with physicians.

1. Bend your style. Design your call so you play by the physicians' rules and at the same time, turn your power over to them. You can accomplish these two goals with one simple question: "How do you like your reps to call on you?" How can they be angry when they have told you how to do it?

Here's what happened when a sales rep said the above: The doctor responded, "I have three things: Don't talk bad about the competitor, inform me in two to three minutes and leave the sales pitch materials in your car."

One question took out all the guesswork. The sales rep let the doctor demonstrate his buying style and saved both of them a lot of time.

2. Building relationships and building credibility go hand in hand. When you follow up with "I'm going to keep part of my agreement. I will only talk for two minutes," you demonstrate the filter-and-focus principle: You have a keen ability to filter out the non-essentials and focus on essentials. You may even want to set the alarm on your watch for 90 seconds and see if the doctor has any questions in the remaining 30 seconds. If you are on a roll, even though it is tempting, don't just continue. You will lose credibility. Again, give the physician the power. Ask, "Should we continue or do you need to move on?"

Most reps don't realize that the best way to build the relationship is by honoring the doctor's wishes. Instead, if they only get two minutes, they feel cheated. Here is the long and short of it: Talk is cheap. Move into action.

3. Bust out of old patterns. Hold back some of your information. Only talk about one or two features at a time. Next time, when the physicians say, "What's new?" you'll truly have something to say that is different, and you won't have to scurry around for a new product.

Demonstrate that you can be trusted. Do the necessary research, discuss both the positive and negative features of your products and make non-biased assessments. Prove that you and the physicians are on the same side, trying to help the patient.

4. Bring it out in the open. Too often, reps move in one of two directions with physicians: They openly confront the ones who are not writing scripts, or they pretend to trust the physicians who nod yes and at the same time say to themselves, "There is no way I'm writing scripts for this drug!"

There is a third alternative:

"We have talked a lot about xyz drug. Obviously, there is something that you don't like about it. Can we use our two minutes to talk about the problems you have with writing scripts for it?"

This kind of statement brings the problem out in the open and nails down the facts – instead of the physicians.

When they do tell you what is going on, make sure you listen attentively and non-defensively. Sometimes this is hard, but the dividends can pay off big-time. For example, if the physician says that your drug is not covered on a health plan, you should yield willingly by simply saying, "You are right." Don't argue the facts. You will lose all the credibility that you have worked so hard to gain.

Try to follow up by asking something like, "Are all your patients covered on this plan? What about your other patients?"

5. Bargain. Sometimes, you have to give a little to get a little. One surefire way to make sure that happens is to change your language by using "I'm willing and I want" statements. Using the example that we just discussed, you could say something like, "What I'm willing to do is provide you with x amount of samples for those patients who can't afford them. At the same time, I would like you to start your other patients on the xyz drug. Let's see the results. How does this sound to you?"

Or if the doctor wants more research, try the following:

"I would like to do some research on that question. After we come up with a suitable solution, I would like this xyz drug to be part of your patients' treatment plan. How does that seem to you?"

Now, is this approach suitable for all physicians? Probably not. You know which physicians this is applicable to: the ones who never have time, who want to hear only what is new and who want to run the show. Just remember: With this quick approach, you build credibility, you provide a framework that physicians can trust and, most importantly, you play on the same team while asking the physicians directly to start writing scripts.

Not bad for two minutes. PR