My DM told me there'd be days like these…

Pharmaceutical Representative

Everyone has bad days, but do you know how to make the best of them?

My first call today was with my number one customer. A lot of planning went into this call. Last night, I practiced presenting two new clinical studies and prepared to discuss my drug's newest indication. While in the shower this morning, I rehearsed the entire call in my head. I knew the message I wanted to get across, and I knew from experience the cues this customer would send. As with every other call with "Mr. Big" this year, I knew exactly when he would tell me that he loves my product, sign my computer and try to push me on my way. But I had new information today that he would undoubtedly find compelling. I had also planned a bridge as beautiful as The Mackinaw that would move him from lip service about his love of my drug to diving into a technical conversation and coming out understanding why my product is truly the best in its class. But I was going to guide him to using a much better form of expressing affection for my product - the pen and the prescription pad!

When I walked into the office, I was feeling confident and prepared. I was ready to take what was rightfully mine. My shoes were shined, my thoughts were clear and I had on a pretty authentic 7:45 a.m. smile. Getting past the receptionist and making my face appear in front of the doctor's was a big enough challenge. But the words he shot off his tongue as he looked at me told me I was finished before I started. "What are you doing back here?" and "Were you specifically called from someone in this office for samples?" and "Get out of here, and come back next week," were the statements I heard. I knew immediately that the behavior of his pen and pad was not about to change today.

Coping with setbacks

I thought I had a pretty positive relationship with this customer. He had done some speaking programs for me in the past, and I even completed two preceptorships with him this year. I clearly had expectations about how today's call would go. These expectations were based on previous calls and what I had perceived as the quality of our relationship. I just forgot to remind myself on the way in that he is a human being - and anything can happen.

It's a great feeling when a call goes exactly as planned. Maybe it's learning something very important about the customer's approach to treating that important disease or gaining a sincere commitment to giving you additional business. But the reality of working in the field is that calls will go bad and we will, at times, be treated like trash. We'll be thrown out of offices just for walking in the door. And one of the worst parts is that it feels as though it's a personal attack.

The question is this: What can we do to stay motivated and excited about our jobs after calls like these or after other aspects of our day go bad? If you find yourself experiencing one too many of "those days," you might consider using some of the following tools already in your possession:

1. People – Who's there for you?

Surround yourself with supportive and empowering people. When you're feeling trampled on or frustrated, nothing can beat talking about it. And it sure helps to talk with a good listener. Often, a supportive co-worker, manager or family member can help you look at a situation from a completely different angle.

2. Past experiences – What can you draw upon?

Can you remember a time in the past when you felt this way? What did you do about it? Did you utilize some skill, a person or an internal mechanism to cope? Simply ask yourself what you have done in the past, and if it worked, try it again!

3. Reality check – Where does the problem fit in the big scheme?

Remember that a bad call is just that … one bad call. How many successful calls or interactions have you had already with this customer? How many more opportunities do you have? How does this single bad call effect your overall business?

On an even grander scale, when I walked out of the call today, two important facts crossed my mind. First, I reminded myself that I have an extremely supportive company behind me, and I am paid to do a specific job. The employment relationship I am involved in dictates that I accept the "hazards" of this job. The outcome of this terrible call was simply one of those employment hazards.

4. Kill them with kindness – When will they give in to a smile?

I know of numerous offices that do not even allow pharmaceutical reps in the door. One reason I see offices making these decisions is because of an isolated behavioral outburst by an angry rep who could not see the doctor. If all those outbursts had been replaced with enough smiles and an occasional "thanks anyway," we would all have a higher call average this month.

5. Try a new tactic – Why not take a new stance?

Do you always "want" the same thing when you go into a call? Should the outcome of every call be to secure new or switched prescriptions? If you're not getting anywhere, or worse, getting downright rejected by asking for something, try using the 34-second standup call to ask the customer what he or she did over the weekend. How about a statement relating to one of the customer's interests or hobbies? If the "sell" is not working, you may find that lightening your approach earns you a new building block in a valuable relationship.

There are a lot of misperceptions about the ease of the jobs we do. Behind the scenes, things can sometimes get pretty ugly. In one week, we can have both the best and worst days of our career. But remembering some of these simple tips can grant us a new sort of endurance no matter what comes our way. PR