Take the hot air out of sales calls

June 1, 1998

Pharmaceutical Representative

Rep must not forget what they should NOT do on a sales call, so they don't shoot ourselves in the foot on the way in or out of a doctor's office.

We constantly read books and attend sales seminars to learn what we should do to increase sales. At the same time, we must not forget what we should not do, so we don't shoot ourselves in the foot on the way in or out of a doctor's office.

Consider the following seven ways to take the hot air out of a sales call.

1. Don't be a sample dropper. You never see a UPS driver sitting in a doctor's office waiting for a signature. Since UPS can deliver samples to a doctor's office more efficiently than you can, don't fall into the trap that your primary mission when you make a call is to deliver samples. It's not. Having samples signed for without imparting product information is a UPS driver's job.

2. Don't focus on activity rather than on productivity. All other things being equal, the representative who sees the most physicians will win. Do not focus, however, so much on the activity that you forget the purpose of the call. At the end of every call, ask yourself, "As a result of the call, did the prescribing behavior of the physician change?" If the answer is "No," or "I don't know," then you must focus more on what you are accomplishing during the call rather than the mere activity of making a call and moving on to the next one.

3. Don't pass over the office staff. Office staff - especially nurses - play a critical role in deciding not only who will get to see the doctor, but also which medication patients will take home from the sample closet. If you regularly breeze right by the office staff and nurses, be prepared for the day this habit prevents you from seeing the doctor.

4. Don't deliver inaccurate information. Is the truth getting in the way of a great presentation? There is no faster way to lose credibility than to give a physician false or misleading information about your product or that of a competitor. If you do not know the answer to a questions about your product, don't guess. Find the answer and get back to the physician within 48 hours.

5. Don't provide poor customer service. Underpromise and overdeliver. Never do the opposite. If you are confident that you can get an answer in 24 hours, tell the physician you can do it in 48 to 72 hours. When you walk in the next day with the answer, everyone will be happy with your quick follow-up. On the other hand, if you tell a physician that you will get back to him or her with an answer in two days and it takes two weeks, you are "shooting yourself in the foot" with that doctor.

6. Don't make boring presentations that lack enthusiasm. If you don't show enthusiasm for your product, why should the doctor take valuable time to discuss it with you? Most representatives don't realize how boring their presentations are. Enthusiasm sells. Videotape your presentations; then watch for gripping words and a dynamic pitch.

7. Expand your knowledge. If your product and therapeutic training ended on the last day of training class, you're probably bringing little value to the physician's office. You are not doing your doctors any favors by bringing samples and giving the same presentation you have given during the last six visits. You must constantly provide new information. Take pride in your company and its products, but never underestimate the competition. If your company were to disappear tomorrow, there are still numerous drugs from which the doctor can choose. This is the reason there are sales representatives - to influence physicians to choose your product. It is your job, therefore, to keep abreast of current literature, to constantly expand your knowledge base and to convey this information to physicians on a continual basis. PR