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K.C. Warner is a market impact specialist who works with pharmaceutical sales training departments to increase market share and management performance. She can be reached at Warner Development at (800) 845-6108 or via e-mail at KCWarner@ WarnerDevelopment.com.
Reps can make a better impact by managing the time they have.
What seperates the good from the great representative? Business-based territory management decisions. Think about how much more of an impact you could make by better using the time you have. The following are some common time and territory management questions that reps ask.
•Â Use the fax machine to keep track of meeting changes from the hotel, to check the revisions to the invitations, to verify the reservations, etc.
•Â Keep all program materials in one folder so you can find them easily.
•Â Make sure you include who is invited to the program on the invitation. This approach saves you from taking too many phone calls from the nurse asking if the doctor can bring a guest.
•Â Take advantage of your company's selling teams. Separate the invitations, and ask each member to be accountable for a few physicians.
•Â Make friends with the caterer, event planner, etc. Know who you can trust to manage certain pieces of the event and take advantage of his or her expertise. They can fax you the best events and arrange your tickets before anyone else, too.
•Â Use a trusted speaker. Make sure you know what your speakers, both from the medical community and from your company, are going to say. Nothing is more frustrating than spending time and money getting key customers to a program and then having the speaker take away your return on investment.
The work only stops when you decide to stop it. I have found that the most effective pharmaceutical representatives know when to put the work away. Then they focus on their life away from work. Try to get your paperwork done before you pull into your driveway. Make the driveway your office door. You may need to take a break in the middle of the afternoon to complete your notes. It is most effective to complete your post-call notes and pre-call planning directly after the call. The information is fresh on your mind, and when the day is over, it's over. You can focus on your life outside of work, knowing that you are ready for the next day.
First, you need a business plan. A business plan for your territory will help you focus your spending. Define your goals for the money. What do you hope to achieve beside more product sales? Access? Thought leader influence?
Next, use the resources for targeted accounts. Make sure to match your spending with the needs of the customer. It's your decision where and how you spend your budget. How you spend your money can clearly differentiate you from the competition.
Lastly, make sure you keep track of your spending and that of the district. Knowing whether your manager is going over or under budget for the year may impact your spending during the last part of the budget period. When focusing on the money, don't forget the other resources you have at your disposal. Your most important resource is your time. You are the greatest resource to the company in your territory. Plan to budget your time just like you would a financial budget.
The most important component of successful selling teams is communication. The more you talk to the others in your team, the more effective you are going to be. If you are targeting a physician within a selling team, then your effort at scheduling your calls will be well worth the extra time. Make sure you address the geography of your counterparts, targeting of high prescribers, and relationships already established when routing. Six-week rotations with three counterparts work well. The targeted offices will see one of you each week. Lower-priority offices will see your company representative every other week or every third week.
A word about the computer notes you share with your counterparts: In your shared notes, make sure you write what you said, the physician's reaction, and what your pre-call plan is for the next time. This approach is much more effective than saying, "sampled Anatol."
Stay on top of it. Reconcile your samples every day. It's easy to do when you carry the same quantity in your trunk every day. Make sure the amount you put in for the next day balances the amount you are listed as sampled for the day. When you find something that doesn't balance, take care of it right away. Find the error - The longer you wait, the harder it is to fix.
The offices are convenient for the competition, too. Look at where other representatives are on the rainy days. One of your goals to enhance credibility is to differentiate yourself from all the other representatives who are calling on the doctor's office. One way to differentiate is to be available when others are not, like on Fridays and rainy days. I just interviewed a representative who led the nation in analgesic market share and volume by differentiating himself. Yes, he differentiated himself with his knowledge of the products and the physicians' practices, but he also was available for them when others were not. For example, every Friday he would pick up a pizza and stop by the ED on his way out for the evening.
Getting accurate, up-to-date information is not easy. However, you have many other sources of information in your territory. Begin by writing "market intelligence objectives" for each of the physicians you will see during the day. Outline what you want to learn about your targeted customers that day. Often you can uncover the information you need from the office staff. The pharmacy, physician's assistant, and office manager are all resources to learn about recent prescribing patterns. You will be amazed at how often the pharmacy will open its database to provide a wealth of information.
District sales managers around the world say they want representatives who can help make their job easier. Doing projects that help your manager shows that you are management material. Your management won't know how good you are at their job unless you show them.
When deciding where to spend your time on additional projects, look at how district sales managers are evaluated in your company. List the characteristics on a piece of paper. Then write out to the side how you plan to demonstrate these skills to management. What projects can impact the business and demonstrate your ability to lead? Prioritize and target these projects, just like you prioritize and target your physicians. Then spend time with the projects that will provide the most impact first. Demonstrate to the decision-makers that you can do these in addition to selling.
Deciding where to use your "stuff" can be challenging. It needs to be used where it will have the most impact. Remember that business is driven through key physicians, those who can most greatly impact our numbers by writing prescriptions. Targeted physicians are those who can provide new business, possess a high territory ranking of existing business, write a high volume of the competitor's products, have a high share of the market in our products or have a high share of therapeutic class market. Spend your resources on these key physicians.
Make sure you revisit your sales objective with these targeted physicians. What do you want the resource to help you accomplish? Set the goal high so your use of the resource will be effective.
Next, list the resources you can use with the targeted physicians. What do you have besides pens, notepads, money for lunches and ball game tickets? Samples? Speaker programs? List these, and remember to list your time as the most valuable resource.
Then, match the physician with the resource. Does one physician like you to pay attention to his or her staff through lunches? Does another like to take his or her family to sporting events? Make sure that your greater valued resources go with your key physicians.
The effective territory management decisions you make today will increase your market share tomorrow and will leave you more free time. At the end of the day today, ask yourself, "How much time did I spend on territory management issues?" and "How much time did I spend with my key customers, driving the business?" PR