A strong trend in the pharmaceutical industry in 2009 is the switch from talking about products to talking about their price. Discount coupons have been around for a while, so have messages about insurance coverage, tiers, and so on. Now the price became the dominant topic and the main point of interaction between drug reps and physician. It is all about “who’s cheaper”. Will it help your sales? In the short term it will. But only in the very short term. Here are my reasons:
1. If everyone does the same ( and they do ), soon enough everything blends in and the news stops being the news. Tell me who possibly can distinguish between products if the main promoted difference is the type of coupon used or the tier level on Caremark or Medco. What is your USP, people?
2. Once the educational marketing is abandoned it is very uneasy to go back to it. Human complacency leads to choosing easier ways, and, of course, any drug rep would prefer to talk about the price or coverage over discussing science with doctors. In essence, the pharma companies decondition their reps and thus deplete the relationship with doctors by switching from education or educational marketing to pure sales on price. Teach, don’t sell!
3. Here is how Pharma contributes to Walmart success. First Pharma reps condition doctors and then doctors condition their patients to think about price before anything else. Forget about the best, just get the cheapest, America! However, dear Pharma marketers, at the end of the day your coupon expires, but don’t hold high hopes that most folks will stick to your product. After you successfully primed them for cheapness they will ask for a new coupon or for a new discount de jour, or go to Walmart that will beat you all anyway. Be with the trend, but don’t be naive!
FDA and other regulators restrict your companies’ messages every possible way. Can you say what you need to say without changing the on-label content? Would a change of your voice inflection be helpful in putting the emphasis of your message on what needs to be related to your customer? Let me illustrate this.
Let’s take one sentence and read it 6 different ways. Here is a simple factual statement: ” I didn’t say that Obama will destroy Pharma”. Now let’s see how this one sentence will take 6 different meanings from using 6 different voice inflections.
“I didn’t say that Obama will destroy Pharma,” it wasn’t me, it was someone else who said it.
“I DID NOT say that Obama will destroy Pharma,” a strong denial that I said it .
“I did’t SAAYY that Obama will destroy Pharma,” hints that you might have implied it but didn’t actually say it.
“I didn’t say that Obama will destroy Pharma,” implies that it is not him but rather someone else will be doing the job.
“I didn’t say that Obama will DESTROY Pharma,” maybe he will just put it on the knees and won’t actually kill.
“I didn’t say that Obama will destroy PHARMA,” implies that he will work on something else, like Health Care, first.
Practice to sell with your voice. This is one of the most underutilized skill that you need to master. Stretch your voice to SELL.
Disclaimers: Be sure to understand that the phrase used is for illustrative purposes only. I am hopeful that Obama will not do anything but good things for Pharma.
I’m an ex-drug rep, and just discovered your site from pharmagossip.
Samples are the number one influencer of the prescribing habits of doctors, and I proved this with my last pharma company, which was a very small one, where doctors could request samples simply by faxing in a form off of the company’s website. I became the third best rep in sales out of 200 within six weeks, and never made one call on a doctor’s office. I mailed these forms anonymously instead to the offices in my territory.
Obama brand is a great example of an outstanding branding strategy and execution. He and his campaign deserve a standing ovation for bonding with consumers. It is unparalleled in the recent history. His brand became bigger that Lipitor, Advair, Nexium and Plavix (world’s top pharmaceutical brands) combined. He is like a drug that everybody wants to take without ever reading the package insert. No reason to read the indications, cautions, or side effects. Just take it because “it’s good for you”. You will experience “the change you need”. In what areas? Just about everywhere. He is a Percocet for pain, a Xanax for anxiety, an Ambien for sleep, a Viagra for erection and a fish oil for coolness. You might guess that I share conservative values of republicans. Maybe. But I gotta tell you, that it is on the republican watch that such detrimental changes to pharmaceutical companies as the PhRMA guidelines and the death of free marketing and next to viral proliferation of regulatory and legal departments in your companies actually happened. Go figure. So, what’s ahead for you? As it stands right now, after BIG OIL the second enemy of happiness for Americans is BIG PHARMA. Get ready and tighten your seat belts, folks. You thought it was tough, but you haven’t seen nothing yet. The socialization of health care means that pharmaceutical companies, formerly free dogs, who now walk on leashes, will be placed in cages. Their ability to grow and to generate revenues will be so dramatically impacted that before you know the layoffs will start. And with that, how can one explain why pharma gives Obama’s campaign more contributions than to McCain’s? Probably they are hedging their bets, hoping for liberal mercy.
O.K. this is my advice for the 2008-2009 political season: update your resume today, put yourself on LinkedIn or go work for legal and regulatory departments of your esteemed companies. By the way, big kudos to those companies that didn’t sign PhRMA guidelines. They had guts to do that, and they will do better.
I wrote the following almost a year ago, but some of my recent observations compelled me to address this again.
It’s that simple: without your doctors’ attention there won’t be any transaction. Should you sell, pitch or educate when one wants to get out now, needs to answer a phone call now, is bombarded by 3 different conversations, dying of thirst or simply can’t hear you?
Your message delivered in the absence of her/his attention loses its immediate impact. Moreover it loses its potential to have any value or power in the future. You know why? Because in the midst of noise their brain catches something without reaching their awareness. You may think it’s OK, because next time their brain will recognize it as something familiar or already heard. Right? Maybe on paper. In reality their brain will associate that message with the negative circumstances and instead of bonding with your message , the brain will get frustrated with it and, what’s worse, with YOU next time when the same message and the messenger are back. The more of the same you do, the smaller your chance to ever deliver your next message will get. Instead of becoming an educator, you become an “irritater”.
Slow down, visualize their attention, watch and once they ready – talk.
What’s the best manifestations of their attention? Their direct question addressed to you, their direct eye contact with you, their mouth shut and ears unplugged, so to speak. Identify these simple signs and you are ready to go.
Even if you are dying to share your new indications, your new sales line, still slow down, take a look around, feel what they feel, think if the current circumstance allows, if not, see if it can be modified to benefit their attention (not your itching to talk).
By showing respect and making a neutral comment important to them you either will modify the circumstance right away or will get a better chance to be listened to in the future. Remember, it is all about THEM, not about your you or you product.
And yes, with some of them you won’t succeed because it is too late to correct established patterns of disrespect to you, or else because some of them are genuine jerks. But so what?
The two main ideas behind visual aids are to enhance verbal communication using images and to provide you with a source of topics and information about your products. It is well known that what we hear we forget but what we see we tend to remember. About 10% of people learn via listening only. Visual learners are much more common. It is believed that by drawing your doctors attention to the image in visaids you have a better chance to keep it and to leave lasting impressions. Every time you will show your piece to the doctors they will immediately stop whatever they are doing and grab your visaids to satisfy their endless thirst for knowledge by literaly eating and drinking every word of the studies quoted in your materials, right? Nothing gets physicians more excited that looking at graphs from ”pivotal” studies conducted by your companies, that get tossed and squeezed by statisticians to get a drastic 3% improvement over your competitors, to be then able to proclaim “power of something”, right? Well, wrong. Day in and out we are presented hundreds of studies, papers, copies, visaids, quotes, references, etc. Your competition does the same thing, so unless you know what to say and exactly what value you are bringing with your visaids, do not carry them like the olympic torch. That being said, not using visaids at all or an ”these marketing people have no clue what they’re doing” attitude, is certainly a mistake. What are the DON’Ts: 1. Do not refer to the content that you are not familiar enough or that you do not fully understand; 2. Do not show anything to your doctor until you engaged him/her in a conversation and have some form of confirmation of attention in the form of a question, head nod, comment or argument; 3. Do not refer to your materials without asking for a permission to show them; 4. Do not waste time on illustrating secondary points. One key point at a time; 5. Do not make them read fine prints or study complicated graphs unless they ask; 6. Do not shift attention from your face to your visaid , even when you have it ready and open, until after they clearly expressed their interest and permission; 7. Do not rush through the whole thing. You’ll have time at your next visit to cover the remaining points; 8. Do not close your visaid until you shifted their attention back to your face; 9. Do not leave you “stuff” behind without asking for their permission. Think about what goes through their heads when they throw your visaids to trash; 10. Do not use the same formal language that the visaids use; use your own but keep the main idea.
I welcome any comments. Remember that black belts are not those who practice 1000 things 10 times but rather those who practice 10 things 1000 times.
Your comments to the previous post suggest that you feel that your marketing departments are not in touch with the sales reps. My observation has been that the sales aids that are supposed to be the foundation of your sales pitches are generally lousy. The language in them is mostly stiff and dead. There are many reasons for that but the three key ones are: 1. Marketing is not in touch with sales; 2. Fear of saying what needs to be said dominates everything; 3. Most creative marketers left Pharma to work for the Googles of the world. You are on your own now. The point here is that if you want be successful you will have to sharpen your skills. You are the ones who have to be in touch with reality of sales. You are the ones who have to say what needs to be said. You are the ones who have to be creative. From the time I started this blog I have beeng saying that it is not about your companies or products; it’s all about you. You are the brand that needs to be promoted, you are the biggest asset that you companies have whether they recognize that or not. Please be clear about that. So how are you going to do what needs to be done? The first step is to realize that the bigger is the “why”, the easier is the “how”. Know what you want, put all the key elements that we talked about in place and the results will come.
One of the common reasons why doctors may be irritated and bothered by you is that they do not feel appreciated for their tme and efforts. What is the first word that comes out of your mouth when a doctor answered your question? How about if she asked you a question? Or if he raised an objection? Or simply asked you how you were? How about the very end of your sales call? I will share with you a trivial wisdom, that is not a matter of politeness but rather a profound subconscious bonding tool that you should use as many times as it is natural during your interaction with your docs. Thank them. Whatever little participation you were able to generate even if it was just a head turn-thank them. Sincere acknowledgement coming from you is the first and foremost condition of you connection with your doctors. My observation has been that the only situation when sales reps consistently use “thank you” is after they get an autograph for their samples. That is not enough. Practice your THANKS. Thank you for reading this.
Below is a quote from one of the participants of DrugRepTime. This was expressed some time ago in a survey about this blog and for a while I wanted to comment on that. “The information is useful to new, young, and inexperienced pharmaceutical sales representatives. Any Representative with 4 or more years of experience may not find much value in the information disseminated.” So, first of all , thank you.
Here are my thoughts about it. Three dangerous words in English are ” I KNOW THAT”. If your mind ever tells you that, simply say to yourself “Thanks for sharing”. Somebody smart once said: ” It is not what we don’t know that prevents us from succeeding, but rather what we know that ain’t so.” The best way to learn something is to open yourself up by emptying your cup from any preconceived ideas and thoughts. In other words , the best way to learn is to unlearn first. True learning may be painful but it is always rewarding. If you know the purpose and if you are open to learning you will have the biggest gratification - CHOICE. Here is a quote from Lau-tzu, the author of Tao Te Ching: Not-knowing is true knowledge. Presuming to know is a disease. First realize that you are sick; then you can move toward health.
So what consistently impacts your sales the most? The comments to the previous post suggested that you think that there isn’t any “one thing that fits all”. You are right, but is there one common denominator? I also promised to tell you how I tested that in my own sales. Here is a question : What do doctors do in the rooms or on the phones with their patients? The answer is: they sell. Specifically, they sell to their patients problems and solutions. Example: Mr. J has high blood pressure. His doctor’s job is to sell him on the need to treat high BP and to treat it for an indefinitely long period of time, on the compliance with treatment, on the need to follow up regularly , to pay for the medications, to do testing , etc. In fact, your doctors do it every day, with multiple patients, multiple individual circumstance, multiple objections, multiple socioeconomic considerations including time issues, money issues, trust issues, knowledge and education issues. Moreover, your doctors end up “selling” YOUR medications as best solutions for their individual patients needs and wants. Now, tell me how it is different from what you are doing? If and once you overcome the “medicine is a sacred profession” objection, you will realize that all your doctors are in sales. And what do all sales have in common? The answer is that every single sales transaction is a form of EXCHANGE. Something has to be exchanged, whether it is knowledge, conviction, passion, confidence, experience, physical object, service and whatever else you can think of. The key condition for success of such exchange is ENERGY. None of exchanges in communication is possible unless some form of energy is passed along. When your goal is success a positive form of energy must be manifested and exchanged. If you are a recipent in a sales transaction whether you are a patient in the room or a doctor in the office would you be more likely to participate if you sense a. negativity, b. indifference or c. positivity? Would you likely buy from the sales person whose response to your ” what’s new?” is: a. “same s..t, different day” or “we are getting killed by..”, b”same old, same old” or “nothing much” or “TGIF’, or c.” happy to be here working with you”? Multiple studies showed that adding energy consistently increased sales across the board. I tested it myself and found it to be true in my communication with eight to nine thousand patients a year, black or white, reach or poor, young or old, tough or easy, friendly or hostile, educated or not, for past nine years. When you are at you doctors’ regardless of how you look, how smart you are, how great or poor your product is, how well connected or far disconnected you are with your clients, how useless your DM is, how often or rare, how early or late in the day, with or without food, you will uniformly increase your sales if you consistently deliver higher energy. I mean that anything HIGHER than your baseline will move your sales up. Do not believe me? Just test it. One caveat: do not fake it - keep it real. The key to success is to raise your own energy. When you do, people will naturally be attracted to you. And when they “show up, bill’em”.
A few weeks ago I was asked by a rep what one thing makes the biggest difference in your sales.This came after my post www.drugreptime.wordpress.com/2008/02/12/five-reasons-why-you-cant-sell/. To my surprise I couldn’t answer the question without talking about too many things and hence diluting the value of each answer. What is it? Should you be younger or older, experienced or fresh out of training, female or male , “barbie doll”, always prepared, always available, always with funds? Should you have clear messages, or personal relationship, should you be in the office weekly or biweekly, should you be aggressive or considerate or simply be yourself? Is that the product or the company, breakfast, lunch or dinner, type of food or type of speaker, primary care or subspecialty, samples..? Do you need to dance if your doctor dance, drum if he drums, hunt if she hunts, golf, travel , be cool or old fashioned? Is it about some “alternative” relationship, or maybe about knowing how to look, smell, what to say and when to shut up? Having spent over three months observing, thinking and debating I finally got it. It was so simple that I couldn’t believe it. So I decided to test it myself in my own sales. “What sales?”, you might ask. And that, my friends, is something I will also share with you in my next post. However I need some smart ideas and comments before we can continue. What do you think?
You were all taught to use enrolling questions to get attention of your audience. Great approach. 1. How many of you do not know how to do that? 2. And of those who know, how many want to master that skill so that 100% of your audience is always enrolled? What did I just do? Right, I enrolled 100% of you. If you are still reading you are enrolled. What would have happened if I stopped after the first question? Those who thought ”I know“ would have departed, or drifted away. So here is the problem: By far the majority of reps will benefit from getting better in this. Have you ever stood in front of your doctor observing his eyes glazing over after you asked him a question? Yes, that’s the moment when you lost him. From this moment all your further communication occurs with the little voice in the back of his head that basically says “Shut up, you, let me go..”. Does the mastery of enrolling the audience require some special personality or charisma? No, it requires two things: a. Doing it regularly and observing the response, and b. Practicing what you are going to say ahead of time by constructing your questions in such a way that precisely 100% ( not 99) of them are enrolled. In most cases your company marketing people will give you one enrolling question that uniformly leaves some of your targets out. Thank them for that question ( better than none ) and proceed with constructing question number two that will scoop out the rest of the audience that got left out after the first one. That’s right , you have to have two questions ready before you fire. Here is a classic example from the author of “Sales Dogs”, Blair Singer. Question 1: How many of you had breakfast this morning? Show of hands in the audience -70%. Great, thank you. Question 2: How many of you didn’t have breakfast. Show of hands, remaining 30%. Thank you. No matter what you are going to say next you are now talking to all of them. Start doing that and observe what works, what doesn’t, and how your questions need to be modified. It goes without saying, that your enrolling questions have to carry value to your docs and that you must thank them regardless of their answers. Put it to practice, and keep in mind that what you hear you forget, what you hear and see you tend to remember, but what you do – you understand.
In my last post I promised to review the topic of “appealing to fears”. I stated that in order to grab your doctors’ attention and to keep it long enough to be able to convey your message, you need to master the skill of appealing to their fears. However I only can imagine the reaction that my peers will have if I say “Scare them”. So let’s say that I am ”FEARful” of saying what I feel like saying and let’s address the topic from a different angle: In order to better understand your doctors you have to understand their fears. You won’t find this topic in any sales books or in any of your sales manual and training. Put your thinking caps on and don’t judge me if I tickle sensitive spots.
Doctors like to feel and look smart, intelligent and respected. They are generally big snobs and think very highly of themselves. They hate to be publically outsmarted especially by those of who are of lesser education, younger age and better looks. They love to spot and to be part of new trends. They like to feel that they are in on “something” but afraid of getting confused by your logical fallacies ( CafePharma’s Dr.Dave’s favorite term). They like to work less and to make more. They are scared that with the way things go, they will have to work more and settle with less. Doctors want to retire early but are afraid that they won’t be able to . They are jealous of ” good old days “. They are anxious and afraid of the trends in health care especially with the falling reimbursements, increased labor challenges, new government coming , etc. Not to mention the perpetual fear of lawyers and litigants. They are anxious about falling respect to their profession. They are uncomfortable with poor visibility of the future and most of the time have no good plan B, since they were too busy studying to become business savvy. They are afraid that their energy will deplete and feel older than their biological age. I hope you are getting the picture. What I am saying is, in order to build relationship and trust you may want to learn what they feel, with fear being the strongest feeling of all.
Disclaimer: when I say “they” , I mean us. I am one of them.
Across the board the statistics show that: 3% are buying now, 6-7% are open to it, 30% don’t think about it, 30% don’t think they are interested, 30% know they are not interested. Compare that to your answers to the previous post. So go back to the stadium where you have 1000 doctors who came to listen to you but don’t have to stay. What do you need to say to move the crowd up the ladder: to convert those who are open to it to “buying now”, those who are “not thinking about” it to “open to it”, etc. The answer is you either got to appeal to their fears or to feed their burning desire to learn/ educate them. I will dedicate my next posts to those big two.
I would like to introduce you to a great concept created by an outstanding marketer, Mr. Chet Holmes. It’s called “The stadium pitch”. This concept, once mastered, will arm you with a powerful understanding of the psychology of your prospects. Let’s imagine that you sell XYZ and that you have an audience of 1000 doctors who agreed to give you their attention for as long as you can retain it. You have a unique chance to address that audience and to convince them to write your outstanding XYZ product, but the caveat is that nothing will keep them in their seats and they are free to get up and leave at any time during your pitch. Turns out that no matter what you sell ( cars, furniture, office equipment, ED medications or ice cream ) there always will be 5 categories of prospects: 1. Those who are ready to by right now. They are sooo ready that you only need to offer; 2. Those who are open to “the idea of buying”. They are mostly ready to change, but may not yet be “buying now”; 3. Those who are “not thinking about it”. They are not against it, not for it, but just ” not thinking about it right now”; 4. Those who “think they are not interested”. They are not looking for any change and are happy with what they got at present; 5. And, finally, the last group is ” definitely not interested”. They are aggressively “anti-XYZ” ( please, do me a favor, leave them alone). Let’s go back to the stadium and answer the question: What percentage does each of the five categories represent? I want you to estimate and assign a % to each group in the comment section. This post will be continued once I see some answers. Of note, the statistics across all businesses is about the same, no matter what you sell. So, please, do not say “It depends…”. Just give us your estimates.
Do you ever encounter objections while speaking to your doctors? How do you handle them? Do you run into the same objections over and over again? I bet you do. None of your products is perfect and none of them is good for everyone. There are many ways and techniques to overcome objections but the two key strategies that guaranty 80% of your success are: know them and address them upfront in your conversation. Knowing the objections means being able to isolate the objections down to their core. Surely there will be dozens of scenarios for individuals doctors, however having spent time in the field you should be able to know the main and the strongest ones pertinent to your products. Write those you already know down and constantly add to your collection as you go along. Now, once you’ve reviewed them and crafted masterful answers to diffuse the objections, you have a choice of either overcoming them when are still in their fetal stage or waiting until the end of you pitch when such objections may grow to become full-blown tumors. Actually, you don’t have that choice. You don’t want to wait until the building is completed to remove a defective brick from the foundation, do you? Put them to rest so that the remainder of your presentation or conversation evolves naturally around your strong selling points. And don’t be afraid, you already know what to expect. You’ve heard them. Act upfront and always speak to the scepticism before scepticism speaks to you.
Zig Ziglar, one of the best salesman of our time, once wrote that selling is essentially a transference of feeling. He said: “If I (the salesman) can make you (the prospect) feel about my product the way I feel about my product, you are going to buy my product”. In order to transfer a feeling, you’ve got to have that feeling. Try to persuade your doctors to write your product without being convinced that your product is the best for their patients, and that fact comes across to the prospects. What you frequently do is behave like you sell water in the flood. Yes, you got competition; yes, other products have many of the same features; yes, doctors have too many choices. But so what? Someone else said : “Believers are closers”. The C in the word “close” stands for conviction. Without that C you get “lose“. So whenever you enter your doctor’s office remember: In order to convince you got to be convinced.
There was a great comment in response to the post ” She did it. Can you?”:…but what if your product doesn’t fix any new problem just has a slight benefit or has the possibility of 2ndary benefits that are still unknown… What if there really isn’t a cost associated with not using “my product” only a hypothetical, then what?….
This is so crucial for your sales that you may want to put your thinking cap now before you read the rest. A few weeks ago I wrote a post about selling the problems. Here it is: http://drugreptime.wordpress.com/2008/01/17/sell-the-problem-before-you-sell-the-solution/. The world belongs to those who mastered the sales of problems. Look at what the presidential candidates do: 80% of their talks are about how profoundly troubled we are and the rest is ( not always ) what they are going to do about it. In fact, the presidential race is one huge sale. Those who write their speeches know that in Ohio they need to talk about NAFTA, in Texas about immigration, in New York about values ( betrayed by Spritzer), and so on. They customize their sales via customizing the problems, then magnify them to the point when your throat can’t swallow the problem, when you get terrified and ready to say: ” Mommy, mommy ( or daddy ) please help”. The current nomination battle is a massive personal branding exercise that has two virtues: transparency and rapidly visible results. There is little you cannot learn about brand positioning from watching the candidates duke it out in state after state.
Your sales are not unlike that. Remember, there are two kinds of problems in the world: The ones you have, and the ones you don’t. Your job is either to sell the solution to the problems that your customers have ( or are aware of ) , or to make them own the problems that you have the solutions to. That’s what your key sales skill is. Make them own it! And be there to solve it! Even if your product does not fix a new problem and has only marginal benefits, make the old problem and the marginal issues so vital and painful that your customer would start begging for solutions.
I will be travelling for a few days, but I feel like something important needs to be said. Here is a quote:
True perfection seems imperfect, yet it is perfectly itself. True fullness seems empty, yet it is fully present. True straightness seems crooked. True wisdom seems foolish. True art seems artless.
Not-knowing is true knowledge. Presuming to know is a disease.
Any ideas where it is from?
Problem case. How to ask questions? During your sales training you learned that one great way to engage your doctors in a dialogue is to ask them questions:” How often do you see patients with ….?”. “In your practice do you find that…?” “What do you think about recent publicity about…?”
So you walk into the office, smiling, all ready to crush any obstacle there is, pumped up after your last sales training where you learned how to and what to ask; you got great energy and confidence that your doctor will be set up by you to do nothing else but think what you think and do what you need him to do – write scripts for every single one of those “20% of Americans” who need your medicine to be well and happy. Your trainers just taught how to set up the bying criteria that will be simply irresistible once you put them out there in a form of insightful, sharp, catchy questions that lead your prospect to deep understanding that “your way is the only right way”. You are ready, you aimed, you fire. The doctor listens to you with the undivided attention, starts thinking really hard, and comes up with an answer that gives you another great opportunity to pose a follow up question to which the only answer would be a short and memorable name of one and only product – your product. “How could I possibly not think and do it before? Thank you so much for giving me that hint that I’ve searched for but never could find!” And you live happily thereafter. Right?!
Not so easyyy. I’ve seen you do that and fail so many times that I wander whether those who teach you ever explained that what you are doing, when you are asking, is “borrowing” your doctor’s intellect in order to engage. However the key prerequisite of any borrowing is “a good credit”. You folks all know that. Try to borrow from a bank. They’ll ask you for every little verification of your good credentials and for your funds. I want you to start thinking in terms of making a deposit first. An educational and intellectual deposit. You are all in the business of the educational marketing. Do not forget that ever. Before you borrow your prospect’s intellect make your contribution in the form of an educational deposit to your doctor’s knowledge bank. Build your value through teaching a very specific information that is important to them. Show them that you are the first to do the work. This is probably the only proper way to get them engaged in answering your subsequent question. Otherwise all you get is: ” Why do I need to think and answer her questions? I am busy as is. I don’t need that…”. They may be polite and not say that, but believe me, it’s there.
Deposit first-then get your credit.
Quote: “Getting into “no-see” offices. That’s a real tough one in a lot of markets today with more and more doctor’s offices taking on new rules about seeing sales representatives. The real issue here is that many times, it’s the person at the front desk who’s the gatekeeper and deciding who gets in and who doesn’t. How do you overcome that? There’s not a WIFM for them so sales representatives are wrongfully denied access in a target office and sometimes even in an office where the doctor has asked the representative to come by. I agree totally that it’s not about the product or sales pitch you bring..it’s about the value..but how do you convince the gatekeeper of the value you are bringing and how can you get the buy-in from the gatekeeper that what you are wanting to talk to the doctors about can positively affect patient outcomes as well as be of value to that office? “
Comment by Anonymous | February 11, 2008 <!– @ 10:35 am –>|
Can you give an example of what you are saying that we can relate to?
This was a comment in response to the previous post “Sound Bites”. OK. Say, you sell a cream for eczema (red and itchy skin). ” Doctor, a recent poll (survey, book, article….doesn’t matter) showed that for most people itching was number 2 ( or 3) annoyance behind……whatever only”. You sell an ED medication: ” A recent article in…. said that 1/5 of Americans over 80 are sexually active and of those every third with multiple partners”. You sell a cholesterol lowering medication other than Vytorin : ” Merck was hiding the result of……study from the public for over a year”. You sell a smoking cessation medication:” A law suit was filed in Oklahoma (or Alabama) against a doctor who failed to explain to a patient that smoking is a bad habit”.
All of the above are attention grabbers. Try to resist your curiosity after hearing those even if you are a busy doctor.
Bite them with the right sound. Use sound bites.
These days the media (TV, newspapers, radio, Internet) has such a powerful influence on the audience that we all are programmed to receive and to process information in so called sound bites. Nobody has time and patience to spread thin over almost any topic unless it is vital. It’s not a secret for you that rarely any of your sales messages are vital for your doctors. Unless you say something along the lines that XYZ has been shown to cause heart attacks or cancers, or was found to be terratogenic in pregnancy, or caused medical malpractice litigations, all of which will kill your sales anyway, the rest of your messages has a slim chance to penetrate into the gut of your doctors. If you want to be paid attention to your messages have to become similar in the way they are formulated to the way the media formulates theirs. You have to learn how to create catchy phrases or sound bites, tag lines, analogies in order to be heard and to be interesting. Open MSN or Yahoo to see great examples of these sound bites: “10 things never to say at work place..”, “Does its size really matter…”, “Want better sex? Give it up for a month..”, “ADHD:how to know if you’ve got it..”, ” What she really wants from you..”. Most of the time there is nothing fascinating behind these bites once you read the content. But the idea is to make you click and learn more. We’ll talk more about this topic. For now, try to read, watch and listen to the news and observe your own reaction to those sound bites. See what moves you. See what triggers your interest and start thinking in terms of what you can say that would make your doc turn his head to listen.
Most of the reps set certain patterns of behavior in their doctors’ offices, get comfortable with them and are reluctant to change. Some of you would rather circulate through the same offices and avoid tough targets. If your strategies bring you consistent growth of sales, you are fine. Whether you come in and talk about yourself, your life, dating, cars, movies, real estate, cool stuff, or simply leave samples and ask for signatures, or whether you present yourself as a tired, unsure of the future, struggling with your manager, stuck with a tough to sell product person, so long your doctors listen and consistently deliver, you are good to go. It is much easier to follow the same routine of getting signatures and leaving than to actually do something different every the time. By now we discussed multiple topics and even if you haven’t read all the posts you still should be able to feel that what I am calling for is innovation and creativity. Grow uncomfortable with your routine and yourself and start working on changes. What areas should you change first? Is it how you get your doctors’ attention? Is it how you formulate and deliver your key message? Is it how you brand yourself or your product? Is it how you set up buying criterias? Is it your mastery of reading their minds? Is it improving your sales techniques? Is it your energy level? I don’t know the answer to these questions. All I know is that change is not always easy but ALWAYS POSSIBLE.
Who , in your opinion, is the most Pharma friendly presidential candidate? And who is the least friendly one?
Thank you . Doctor Max
Least pharma friendly: EdwardsThat said, I’m skeptical that either are truly contenders for President. In terms of the other candidates from these two parties (Obama, McCain, Clinton, Huckabee, Romney), I’m not convinced that there is really THAT much difference in terms of pharma’s interests.But once again, I am no expert, so I’m looking forward to hearing your opinions and the rationale behind them.
Conventional thinking is that republicans are Pharma and doctors friendly. But has it helped?
Just a quick look at the outcomes of the last few years of the republican reign indicates some evil trends for both the pharmaceutical industry and the doctors. There is an active war for redistribution of wealth and influence. Parties ( HMOs, PBMs, bureaucracy, lawyers, etc) that produce nothing but panic and fear in public, and invest nowhere but in our demise seem to be putting everyone else on the knees. Public opinion, well manipulated by mass media, is growing against the cause of all problems in life – big Pharma. The only other industry that is made look as bad is Big Oil.
Forget about years of R&D, forget about taking risks of investing billions in hope, forget about cure for cardiovascular diseases, cancers and such. The public chooses to think that it’s all done “for the money”. And hence the foundation of the free market is questioned on the example of Pharma.
Those candidates who blame rich, successfully capitalize on the public opinion. They call for fairness but mean socialism. Even though I am not impressed with the outcomes of the GOP era, I believe that Clinton, Edwards, Obama will be more aggressive in redistribution of wealth and power. Of the republicans Romney and Giuliani are likely to be less hungry to take away from Pharma.
No matter what you sell you got to show your client that your product is his logical choice. All too often I see you skipping through to the description of your product without any or with very minimal discussion of the disease state and the current trends in management and treatment. When you talk to your doctors you talk to people who know more than you do about human diseases. In fact, it might feel rather intimidating when it comes to their superior or your inferior level of knowledge in a given field. So your natural reaction is avoidance. Let me tell you a story that happened to me.
One day, when I was an intern ( only two months into my training ) at Cooper Hospital, I was taking care of a very challenging case. I was doing an admission to the CCU in the middle of the night. My patient was a fifty something years old male who just had a heart attack. I collected the history, examined him and was discussing with him his treatment plan. He asked me a few questions and I went on in great details to explain what would happen next. He asked me what my opinion was about his chances of making it, about complications and so on. We had a good talk, but something in his manner of asking questions appeared unusual to me. So I asked him what he was doing for a living. His answer literally shocked me. ” I am a cardiologist and the head of the CCU ( coronary care unit ) in ……. hospital”, he said. I felt like a complete uneducated idiot teaching an experienced and respected pro. I lost my ability to speak for a second, and when I continued I simply told him how I felt. His reply was: ” I know it all, but now I choose to learn from you. You are my doctor”.
So no matter how smart, educated and tough they are, once you have a chance to talk to them they will likely listen, at least initially. Forget about their credentials. You are doing your job. You are EDUCATORS first, and sales people second. As their educators you better know three things, and know them very well. 1. What problem is your product an answer to? 2. Who has that problem? 3. What will happen to the patients if your product is not used? If you have no quality answers to all three of them, your message will not connect and will not be memorable.
We’ll talk more about the specifics in the upcoming posts.
Prudent question is half-wisdom.
Know what and whom to ask is a great advantage in business. Large portion of your success in pharmaceutical sales is in your ability to understand your doctors. This blog gives you a unique opportunity to learn about ways your doctor’s mind works. Grow your sales and promote yourself in the eyes of your clients through knowing what they need and what they want.
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Earlier this week I had a conversation with one of the best reps in my territory who asked me to comment on your training. I recalled a survey that you were asked to participate in about 2 months ago. 84% of answers were that you got an adequate marketing and sales training from your companies. Back then I thought : “Wow, you must be ignorant or I might be blind”. But the statistics was stronger than my opinion. So, I backed off. Now I am rethinking the way the question was posed. Let me ask you again: What is missing in your training? What would you like to change?
Do you always know what made your sale? Is it important? You bet it is. Let me suggest that we should never assume that we know what other people ( in this case your doctors ) think. Hence the best way to figure out why some of them all of the sudden start writing your product is to ask.
Let’s divide your prescribers into two groups. First group are those who have been “writing”. They should be the source of your product’s testimonials. You should ask them what it is about your product that makes them use it. Ask them now and ask them again and again in the future. Pass that information along to your other clients. This is your asset. Collect it and continue accumulating.
Second group are those who rarely or never used your product before. And then one day you start seeing their scripts. Go back to them and ask them what affected their prescribing patterns. Ask what changed? There you may find precisely what you need to help you with your next customer. Was it a detail piece? Some new data? Was it you, your persistence, your comment, your speaker, your coffee and so on. Just ask. They will be happy to tell you. Once you learned it , you got a new marketing and sales weapon. Don’t assume that you know what worked even if it seems obvious. Prudent question is half-wisdom.
If you are a market leader, skip this post. Go sell more and enjoy your leadership.
Well, today I heard it again: “We are not asking for much. We know you like…XYZ medication (our competition). We just want you to give us a couple of scripts here and there”. This rhetoric is so painfully familiar, that I felt like crying along.
So, let’s look at the message that I am getting: “We do not believe that our brand is the best. We do not believe that we can sell it to you. We are not proud of our product or ourselves. We are begging for leftovers”.
Has anyone ever analyzed outcomes of such approach? Let me tell you what happens after.
A. No scripts. B. You committed your brand to a death sentence. And along with that you committed yourself.
We all know the numbers game you have to play. But, please, do not put your name under the statement of your brand’s failure. Remember, you and your product are not the same. Even if you think that you are selling a stinky product ( which is NOT the case ), you do not want to be seen useless as a REP. Find and regain your pride! Everything has its place in the market. Locate the niche, locate your primary sales targets and grow them. Do not beg those who are not your primary market for any leftovers.
If I am not saying what you are seeing, I want to hear it. Please post your comments.
This one is as old as the world. However for some reason this great sales technique is underutilized. This is what you say: “I understand, doctor, how you feel about ….XYZ medication. A lot of my other doctors felt the same way until they tried XYZ for …… condition or in the ….. dose or over… YZX medication. And what they found was that…..( quote from another doctor or from a recognized local expert on how great your product is).
I am sure you can recall how other sales people (car, furniture, etc) used it on you. This is a very powerful technique.
Read your opinions from the survey!!! I bolded the questions and one angry rep’s comment. It is all here, just read.
What do you like about the blog?
- There’s something new all the time. It’s very interactive, and practical. It deals with challenges I face every day in the field.
- great posts from the moderator and the reps
-excellent topics- good advice
-That it is written Dr with a marketing focus.
-The fact that you set this up to be a serious place to learn and shar ideas, not a place to whine.
-Good discussions and suggestions.
-positive and encouraging
-I like how it is a physician’s honest opinion of pharmaceutical representatives. I appreciate how -Dr Sungorov has taken time to help us with our job and give us real world opinions from “the other side.”
-hearing both rep and dr. points of view
-The information is useful to new, young, and inexperienced pharmaceutical sales representatives. Any Representative with 4 or more years of experience may not find much value in the information diseminated.
-the topics are “real life” and offer an area to convey & retrieve insightful pearls of wisdom
-Since I am new to the blog, I like reading about the doc’s view of pharma reps and the ideas for creating better relationships with clients.
-It helps educate me on what to do and what not to do in offices.
-I like to know what the physician’s are really thinking as they blow us off…what matters to them…what do they want from us…and I love the last blog about keeping the message simple and utilizing the brand message to its full advantage.
-It is a good place to ask questions to a physician and get an honest reply.
What would you change, add, improve?
-The format can be a bit difficult to follow. It might be easier if you had a home page with links to various discussions or topics within the blog.
-would improve the spelling/grammar. Lot of errors…
-more real life stories about your practice and your interaction with reps
-I would like to see a product specific place or even a drug class specific forum.
-more frequent topics and more responders
-More advice on access with doctors
-Good question ?!?!?!?!?!?!
-The Blog is meant to be helpful but there are resources from the pharmaceutical training and development area that are much more useful. The physicians feedback is welcome and somewhat helpful, but wonder what his true underlying motivation is in creating the blog.
-it would be easier to follow a thread chronologically or by subject then chrono. instead of the subject lines on lower right side
-Sometimes the physicians are not realistic or ethical in the pharmaceutical industry. I don’t believe the guidelines are understood.
Most doctors are tired and overworked, or think they are , or more importantly, want you to appreciate that. They frequently project fatigue and fading energy. A person with fading fuel source doesn’t mind borrowing some fuel from another source. The source however should be empathetic to their needs. Try to be that source of fuel with some extra energy in you. Be more energetic, but comfortably for them. Do not go too far out from where they are. Learn to tune yourself to feel their energy and to be refreshing. When you perceive: “life sucks” coming from them , you project “I can make it a bit better RIGHT NOW”. It’s a good tool that takes some time to learn, but once mastered it will give you a great bond with your clients. They will look forward to seeing you again. You can start by trying it with those docs that you are comfortable with. Remember that sales are energy exchange, and you are the energy source.
Now you finally got their attention. What do you do next? What do you say when you talk? Are you ready? Do you have a message? Is it powerful, is it memorable, is it concise? I am afraid most of the time the answer is “NO”.
Way too often the reps are apathetic. No energy, no message, just small talk and yapping about the topics that they feel comfortable discussing with their clients. Time after time, week after week I witness how some great opportunities are lost. “But that’s how we bond with the docs..” , some may say. For strong market leaders, or for those docs who are in love with your products this approach delivers results. Great! Are you satisfied? Are these the outcomes that you are looking for? If yes, the rest of this post is useless for you.
Sales are exchange of energy, period. If you are apathetic, so are your sales.
Grow out of comfort of mediocrity. Think about it: your competition is coming right after you and is about to destroy you with her passion and energy. Do you know how easy it is to get attracted to energy? If you were a doctor would you rather listen to and learn from a rep with an apathetic attitude?
This may not be in your sales manuals but:
The single best way to learn is to unlearn first.
If you are looking for new outcomes find new approaches. Get rid of habitual patterns. Grow uncomfortable with boring. Do not allow yourself to slack off ” just this one time”. Learn to be ready NOW. Say what you need to say NOW. Pass on your energy TODAY and pollinate those flowers like a bee.
Doing things the same way brings more of the same results. It’s true everywhere you look in your life.
The key to success is to raise your own energy. When you do, people will naturally be attracted to you. And when they show up, bill’em.
“Barbie dolls” vs “No-dolls” reps
Please read the comments from Barbie, Ken, and two doctors. Share your thoughts.
What do you do about “no see” docs.
Read the post below from Cafe Pharma. How do you get through the barriers? Give us your suggestions or share your experiences. Let’s get to work.
Debates about food. Wow! Read the comments under the post “Give us one tip that works for you”. What do you do?
This is the comment I posted on Dr. Dave’s blog at CafeParma two days ago in response to “Creative ways to reach “no see” docs..” thread:
Doctor here. All “no see” doctors are divided into two groups:
1. Those who do write your product
2. Those who don’t. Group 1 is your primary market target, group 2 is not. The amount of time and frustration that you will have to invest to get group 2 on board is disproportional to any potential benefits. At the same time, those “bad “clients give you 90% of your headaches.
Group 1 is clearly worth your attention. For the most part, the reason they do not want to see you is that they do not think you will bring them any value. So reflect first and decide what kind of value you will give to your doctors once/if you get that chance. If interested, we can continue talking about it when you can boil down your educational value to one sentence, I mean one. Create that one pip that you believe will score. 10 words, not more. Doctor Max
Let’s expand on your market selection.
Busy day in the office. A rep is in speaking to me. I am one of the biggest prescribers of the class that his product belongs to. I know that he knows that his particular product has no more than 5-6 % of my scripts in the class. He also knows that that number remained unchanged for 2-3 years, and hence by now unless he is ignorant he should see very little potential for expansion.
A colleague of mine who is new to the practice and always, and I mean always, takes time to listen to the reps passes by as the rep is talking to me. The rep turns his head to the doctor and without saying anything about anything is asking for an autograph. The doctor signs the paper and is heading into a patients room. I am asking loudly: “Doctor…, can you tell me what does this fellow sell?” My colleague looks at me and says: “I have no idea”. Wow! and Wow again!
Does he know that he probably has 10 times better chance with that new doctor than with me. I mean 10 times. Guys, grab it, chew it, taste it, enjoy it and only spit it out if it’s not chewable.
What do you think? Familiar situation? Pick your battles, tribe. Pick your battles.
P.S. Note for the rep in the story: Count on me to help you grow!
I am sure that thought occurred to you. In short, my opinion is “YES”.
We talked about getting your doctors attention, but we never discussed “whose attention”.
You know better than me that with some of them you may be out 3 nights a week, feed them every sushi in the world, kiss their behinds , and yet at the end of the day all you get are a few tiny balls of constipated stool coming out with big time cramping and hemorrhoidal bleeding. Yet, most of you persist. God bless you! You must truly like this emptying process. From business standpoint you are foolish. I submit to you that your absolute best client is the one who already uses your product. They are loyal to your product and to you. Your best bet is to get their attention to write more, to sell them your other stuff, and to involve them in “selling” your products to their office partners. If your DM teaches you otherwise let her read this and yell at me.
It’s time to share. One tip. Give it to us. It can be as brief as one word. Be light. No hard thinking or justifications needed. I will post one tip after every third comment.
I was at a marketing seminar recently where some of the world’s greatest marketing gurus were telling us that before we can expect anyone to do business with us, we need to take interest in our potential prospects and figure out ways to add value to their lives. It makes total sense, as once we humans receive a random act of kindness (kind words, a cup of coffee, or a hand to help us fly) we immediately take an interest in the person and want to do something nice back for them. What’s interesting is how refreshing I found this concept coming from the marketing experts considering that I grew up w/ my father who throughout his entire life continually bent backwards to help others w/o being asked to. I strongly believe that if we can remember to take the focus off of ourselves and put it on the other person (in this case the doctors we are trying to do business with), we will be guaranteed to witness the development of lifelong relationships where pull vs. push marketing will start taking place.
- Pharma discounts in 2009 may be just a recipe to go broke.
- Who says that Obama will destroy Pharma?
- Success story. A quote from you.
- Will Obama kill your jobs as pharmaceutical sales reps?
- Pay attention to getting attention.
- Key mistakes to avoid when using visual aids.
- The bigger the “why”, the easier the “how”.
- Help me understand.
- A simple tip.
- The truth will set you free, but first will piss you off.
- If you want to win.
- Male or female?