How to Make Your Meetings with HCPs More Insightful and Successful

“Luck is what happens when preparation meets opportunity.” - Seneca

What insight does a Roman philosopher born in 4 A.D. have for a life sciences rep today who’s trying to navigate a world transformed by a pandemic while making quota?

It’s simple: Leading successful meetings with healthcare providers (HCPs) requires preparation and a lot of it. This means that in addition to understanding the value of the therapies you offer, you must be prepared to create and drive insight in your conversations through sharing research, new ideas, and how you can support HCPs.

It can be challenging just getting a meeting with an HCP, so make the most of it when you do. Be prepared to ask insightful questions at the right time.

Tips to Get the Meeting
How can you be successful in a world where it can be near impossible to get an in-person meeting with an HCP? Here are three tips:

  1. Ask HCPs for virtual meetings. According to Accenture, 87% of HCPs now prefer virtual or a mix of virtual and in-person meetings.1
  2. Tap your marketing team for help with emails. Many HCPs prefer email (no spam, please). This is another recent change: 65% of physicians prefer email communication. That’s compared to 54% before the pandemic.2
  3. Think beyond the sales deal in email outreach. Eight-two percent of HCPs say life sciences companies have made a pivot3: They’re now providing support to address HCPs' most pressing needs, instead of focusing exclusively on sending product information.

Use Insight Selling in your Sales Meetings
So once you’ve secured the meeting, whether it’s in-person or virtual, how do you make the most of it?

The world is evolving and so, too, must your approach to sales in the life sciences. Instead of dropping off a product info sheet or having a quick chat at 7:15 a.m. in their office before patients arrive, transform your sales meetings with HCPs into engaging, valuable interactions that help you build strong relationships and win sales.We call this insight selling and there are two ways you can apply it in your conversations with HCPs:

Interaction insight, also known as conversation insight, happens when you provide value to HCPs based on your conversations and interactions.

Opportunity insight happens when you introduce new ideas or possibilities to HCPs. This could be presenting a completely new approach, a strategy they’re not aware of, or the latest research.

Educating through presentations is one way to incorporate insight selling into your meetings, but the piece that’s often overlooked is asking insightful questions in your conversations with HCPs--questions that disrupt their thinking.

If through your questions you can change the HCPs perception of what’s possible, you can influence their decision-making and open the door for change—a new approach, a different therapy, an innovative technology, and so on.

Ask the Right Questions to Drive Insight and Connection
Our research has found that sales reps who practice the following three activities win more deals:

  1. Educate with new ideas and perspectives. This is where preparation counts. Come to the meeting with research and insight on the topic you’re discussing with the HCP. In fact, our research shows that sellers who win deals educate buyers with new ideas and perspectives 3x more often than sellers who come in second place. Ask, “Have you considered A, B, C, etc.? If not, why not?” You might find they tried it, but it didn’t work because they didn’t approach it correctly the first time. Or, if they haven’t considered it, this could be a prime opportunity to educate the HCP about a new advancement in the area. That can prompt a discussion of better options in your follow-up conversation.
  2. Collaborate. Sharing ideas with an HCP and engaging with them to learn more, is a prime example of collaboration. Ask, “Why? Or tell me more.” This is a powerful question to ask in life sciences because the industry is full of scientists, researchers, and doctors. They’re always curious, always asking “Why?”
  3. Persuade them they’ll achieve results. Sales reps who win deals use the power of persuasion—along with their knowledge and conviction—about the value they provide to the HCP. This goes beyond asking a question. You must make the case that results are achievable and build trust so HCPs will want to work with you.

What are some other questions you can ask to drive insight? Here are three more to use, depending on the specific situation:

“What therapies or approaches have you tried that haven’t worked?”
This is an ideal question if you want to know what’s on the HCP’s mind. It clues you into any gaps between what they know won’t work and what you believe will work. Think about what an HCP cares about at work. They want to keep their patients healthy. If their patients have chronic or acute conditions, they want to prescribe the right therapies.

Here’s a stat for you: There are approximately 1.8 million articles published in scientific journals each year4. There’s no way an HCP could keep up with all the research in their field. Establish yourself as a credible source of information and the result is a durable relationship with an HCP.

“What do you think is possible in terms of the clinical outcome for your patient?”
HCPs invested years earning medical degrees with the primary goal of caring for patients. This question alone can get them to think about a creative solution to their patients’ health challenges.

“How do you know that?”
Heads up that you’ll need to summon your confidence and use your judgment when asking this question. Still, in the right environment and with the right person, questioning HCPs assumptions or statements can help to broaden their perspective.

From Seneca to Dr. Kati Kariko

While I started this article quoting a philosopher from ancient times, I’d like to leave you with an inspiring anecdote from 2021 about Dr. Kati Kariko. She’s a scientist who toiled for years in her lab in the field of mRNA research. Her years of hard work, combined with that of other researchers, has helped save the lives of countless people around the world through the development of vaccines against COVID-19. The Moderna and Pfizer/BioNTech vaccines rely on mRNA, a 25-year old technology that may be used in the future to transform cancer care, vaccines, and chronic condition management.

I remain inspired by Kariko’s work. Think about her perseverance. AndBe inspired by Seneca’s advice as you prepare to deliver new insights and build meaningful relationships with HCPs. Life sciences companies are transforming the world we live in. Simply put, there’s no better time to be in the life sciences business than right now.

Erica Schultz is the author of Not Today: The 9 Habits of Extreme Productivity and Chief Marketing Officer at RAIN Group.

1 , 2, 3 https://www.accenture.com/_acnmedia/pdf-130/accenture-hcp-survey-v4.pdf

4 https://www.stm-assoc.org/2012_12_11_STM_Report_2012.pdf