A rep's rules to live by

Pharmaceutical Representative

One rep's approach to selling and developing relationships with physicians and their staffs.

Several months ago, I was asked by my manager to help train a new group of representatives. They were all new hires with no pharmaceutical selling experience. What follows is a handout I created for them to express my approach to selling and developing relationships with physicians and their staffs.

EXERCISE SENSITIVITY WITHOUT TIMIDITY

Be observant of what is going on in the office. Is the environment hectic or calm? Is it characterized by warmth or coolness? Is it organized or chaotic? Sense when it is appropriate to engage in small talk with staff and when it is more appropriate to stand quietly and wait.

Watch for signals that you are overstaying your welcome or are getting in the way of the normal flow of patients. Be unobtrusive in the busy environment and quickly and graciously leave if you feel you are getting in the way.

Remember that you are an important part of the patient-care process and have a significant contribution to make in the well-being of the sick. You can make the doctor look good in his or her patients' eyes if you provide an effective product that can change patients' lives for the better.

You are a professional and a person of great value, as is the physician and his or her staff. You are there to serve them just as they are there to serve their patients. You are part of the health care team so approach each office without timidity.

PRACTICE CONFIDENCE WITHOUT TEMERITY

You have knowledge that will help the physician properly prescribe an effective product that has advantages over its competition and will provide a better clinical outcome for the patient.

Do not enter an office noisily and offensively with reckless abandon. Brash boldness will offend and turn people off and you will have trouble getting into that office again. Or, at the very least, your visit will be dreaded.

HAVE A SERVING, RATHER THAN A SELF-SERVING, SPIRIT

Medicine is a serving discipline. Physicians serve their patients. And nurses probably understand a service mindset better than most. You need to have a service mindset to be in harmony with that environment.

Rarely, if ever, ask a physician to do anything for you. This is a total presumption on the salesperson's part. The hierarchy of priority in the medical office starts with the patient. The patient is number one. Then comes the physician and his or her staff. The salesperson is last on the totem pole, there to serve, not to be served.

If you have a servant spirit, the office staff will pick up on it through your verbal and non-verbal communication. You will win in the end if you practice that mind-set when you are in the office.

PRACTICE PERSONAL WARMTH RATHER THAN CASUAL COOLNESS

A warm smile will win a warm response. It must be real, not a fake smile. Warmth comes from a caring and giving heart, not a self-seeking one. Remember that nurses and doctors are people before they are professionals, just as you are a person before you are a sales representative.

BE PERSISTENT WITHOUT BEING INTENSE

It is very important that you persist in your sales efforts. Persist in your sales skill development and practice. Persist in your efforts to see the important and difficult-to-see doctors and in your follow-ups on the things you tell the doctor or staff you will do.

Intensity, however, can be read as pressure by the doctor and his or her staff. It may take away from your smile and warmth. It may be read as self-serving or, worse, as desperation.

BE PATIENT WITHOUT HAVING LACK OF INITIATIVE

It takes time for your efforts to bear fruit. Don't get frantic or pressed in front of the doctor if you are not seeing immediate results of your selling efforts. Know that it could take some weeks or even months before you see sales results. You are in this for the long haul and if you press yourself or your customers too hard, you could yield negative results.

You have to pay your dues and earn the right to see the physicians on a regular basis. Expecting him or her to change prescribing habits quickly is putting too much pressure on the doctor and on yourself.

Do not suffer from ennui or a come-what-may attitude. You are paid to sell and must be enthusiastic about what you are doing. Work diligently to accomplish your sales goals.

DO NOT TAKE REJECTION PERSONALLY UNLESS YOU DO SOMETHING TO DESERVE IT

"No" is regular fare for salespeople. Expect it and plan to overcome it. Do not let it defeat you! Remember that there are enough yeses to keep you going. When you get knocked down, pick yourself up, dust yourself off and go at it again. Take it as a challenge and find a way to turn a "no" into a "yes."

BE FLEXIBLERATHER THAN RIGID

No two offices are the same and no office is the same from visit to visit. You must be able to adjust your approach depending on the situation in which you find yourself.

BE GRATEFUL RATHER THAN PRESUMPTUOUS

Remember that we are uninvited guests in offices. When we are warmly greeted and treated graciously by a doctor and his or her staff, we should be grateful. Readily and regularly express your gratitude. Presuming access to the doctor and his or her inner office is offensive to everyone. PR