Manage yourself to success

February 1, 1997
Bill Voelkel
Pharmaceutical Representative

The most successful sales representatives don't wait to be empowered by their manager - they empower themselves.

Empowerment is a management tool that puts responsibility for results in the hands of a manager's employees. And it can be a powerful method for achieving top results and developing employees. But the most successful sales representatives don't wait to be empowered by their manager - they empower themselves.

By examining the habits of effective sales managers and tailoring them to your own needs, you can master the art of self-empowerment and improve your sales results.

Be a goal-setter

Just as your manager cannot set goals without corporate direction, you cannot set goals without your manager's direction. However, you need not limit yourself to those goals. Create your own goals - whether they are personal or professional - that "stretch" yourself and take advantage of the knowledge you have of your own territory.

If your directed goal is to get five new commitments to try one of your products per week, go for six a week. If your goal is to arrange three in-services a quarter, go for four.

Be a coach

Your manager travels with you on a periodic basis to coach you. You can coach yourself by putting yourself into the objective third-party role of coach.

To self-coach, ask yourself this question after every call: What did I do particularly well? Perhaps you got the doctor to write your drug for a particular case you discussed or to read a recently published article about the drug's cost-effectiveness. Pat yourself on the back when you can single out something you did particularly well, and then keep doing it!

Also ask yourself: If I had to make the call over again, what would I do differently? This is a powerful self-coaching question because it forces you to take an objective, non-defensive approach to analyzing your own performance. Perhaps you would have had a particular study on hand to prove a product benefit or would have asked a few more questions to direct the conversation to the doctor's needs.

But don't be too hard on yourself. Try to limit yourself to no more than two answers so you can focus on just a few improvements at a time.

If you know something went amiss but can't figure out how you would improve it, call your manager or other reps for advice. Self-empowerment doesn't mean you need to have all the answers, but it does mean you should use all available resources you have at your disposal.

Be a motivator

The most successful salespeople recognize motivation as one of the greatest forces behind their success. Here are some ideas for you.


•Â Give yourself regular pep talks. This may involve talking to yourself in the car between calls or reminding yourself of how well you handled your last close.


•Â Set your own expectations. Set them at a high, but attainable level and recognize that success usually comes in small steps rather than huge leaps.


•Â Reward yourself! If you've made an extra call today, celebrate! If you got in to see a no-see physician or if your quarterly numbers are up, do something nice for yourself.

Be a trainer

While your manager may take the initiative in this area, don't leave it up to him or her. Empower yourself to be what you can be. Listen to training and motivational tapes in the car, read business, management, financial and sales strategy books.

Use your company's training and development resources, sign up for courses at local colleges and universities, initiate courses for certified medical representative credits and join the local medical organizations to keep yourself up to date on issues and trends.

Be a leader

You can take on leadership characteristics by taking a proactive role in your territory and district.

Get the creative juices flowing by focusing on a particular element of your job and asking "what if" questions, such as:


•Â What if I had to make an extra call a day? How would I do it?


•Â What if my colleagues and I planned the next district meeting?


•Â What if we started an informal method of sharing success stories within the district? How would we do it?

Be frugal

Effective managers recognize the value of resources they have at their disposal and allocate those resources according to pay back.

Consider how you would use company resources if you had to pay for them yourself. If you had to pay for the gas or lease a car, would you drive 40 miles out of the way to see a low-prescribing physician just because you get along so well?

Play each management role to empower yourself. All it takes is discipline and a commitment to excellence! PR