Drug Rep Time

How to succeed in Pharmaceutical Sales.

Who says that Obama will destroy Pharma?

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.


February 11, 2009 Posted by | Sales Tips | , , , | 2 Comments

Pay attention to getting attention.

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?

September 27, 2008 Posted by | Inside your doctor's mind, Sales Tips | , | Leave a comment

Key mistakes to avoid when using visual aids.

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.

September 6, 2008 Posted by | Sales Tips | , | Leave a comment

A simple tip.

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.

June 1, 2008 Posted by | Sales Tips | , , | Leave a comment

If you want to win.

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”.

May 18, 2008 Posted by | Sales Tips | , , , , | 15 Comments

How to enroll your docs in conversations?

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.

May 4, 2008 Posted by | Sales Tips | , , , , | Leave a comment

Speak to the scepticism before scepticism speaks to you.

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.

March 29, 2008 Posted by | Marketing and Sales strategies, Sales Tips | , , , | Leave a comment

Make your deposit first.

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.

February 28, 2008 Posted by | Inside your doctor's mind, Sales Tips | , , , , | Leave a comment

I like the smell, but I remember the taste.

A couple of days ago I was speaking to a rep who was pitching to me a product that I never use. His product competes against monsters in the class and does it poorly. I was trying to be polite and was doing that doctor’s nod that you all know very well: “Keep talking. I’ll sign for the samples and will forget about you and your stuff before you even leave the office”. Suddenly I caught myself on having visuals related to his product. To my surprise I visualised the exact patients who would benefit from using it and moreover I saw distinct faces and even names of those patients that I had seen earlier in the week that should have been put on his drug. I stopped him and trying to understand what had happened asked:”Can you repeat what you just said”. He did. Bingo. The reason he captured my attention and connected me with his message was very simple. All he did was that he gave me a very topical  and live description of the image of the patient who needs his product. Nothing special but a vivid and memorable picture of who, what, when, how, why. What a great impact that had.

What we hear we forget quickly, what we see we forget eventually, what we hear, see and live through we understand and USE. We connect with that stuff. We bond with it. Don’t just rely on your company’s promo materials. All too often folks who make your brochures talk about stuff they have never been around of. The visuals you get from them pay them big bucks but sell nothing but water. Learn how to create topical verbal images that can immediately connect your doctors with the patient type, her/his problem and your product. Put that patient right in the room with your client. It takes thirty seconds and you are way ahead of the game. 

February 16, 2008 Posted by | Sales Tips | , , , , | Leave a comment

Price matters. Knowing it matters even more.

Time after time I see that you do not know retail prices of your products. These are three typical answers to the price question: 1. I am not sure but, doctor, do you have a lot of cash paying patients? ( yes, I do). 2. Depends on the pharmacy (give me the range). 3. The wholesale price is…. ( who cares?). The presence of the third party payers (health insurances) makes you feel that the doctors do not care to know what their patients pay for treatment. In some cases you are right, they don’t. But interestingly, those docs who don’t care won’t ask you that question. So whenever you hear a doctor asking you, consider that she/he does care. Your vague and frequently wrong answers take away from your trustworthiness. Why don’t you find out 5 top pharmacies that your doctor’s patients fill their scripts at and call to get you products’ prices. You will look very professional. Better else, get the exact prices of all your main competitors. Now you sound like you know what you are talking about. These days when the practice of medicine is quickly headed to the “bottom line first”, in order for you to stay with the trend you have to be “bottom line sales people”. Vagueness doesn’t sell.

January 20, 2008 Posted by | Sales Tips | , , , | Leave a comment

Sell the problem before you sell its solution.

Sales belong to those who mastered the skill of selling problems. When you are setting your buying criteria you have to make sure your doctors buy into the problem. This is when your knowledge of the disease state, its prevalence, its relevance to your client becomes the key to your future success. You are painting a picture. Make it bright gray, make it vital, make it resonate with your doctor’s practice. Use relevant statistics. Pick the numbers that are striking. Doctors like numbers. Add some real life story to the statistics. If you can scare, do it. Make your doctor own the problem. Here is an example: ” XYZ just published some new data, indicating that  QQQ is as common as 55% in the age group between 18 and 45. I know that this age group makes up to 50% of your patients. That means that every fourth patient that you see has QQQ. The problem, doctor, is that the likelihood of severe complications of this condition if not treated is 10%. That means that potentially …% of your patient will suffer from this terrible complication early in life. In fact, I just came from Dr. …. office and he told me a story of a 35 yo woman who now is unable to… and permanently bed ridden because of that. She now is suing him for that.”

You bet I will listen to you after that. You sold me on the problem 100%. I will be begging you for a solution. Of course, not all of you sell products with such drastic stats and most of you, thankfully, do not have that horrible clinical story to share. But all of you, with proper effort and time, can come up with  great stories of problems that your product is the best answer to. Sell the problem. We are all programmed by default  to react stronger to the problem. However, once we “own” it ( due to your effort ) we are hungry for solutions. That’s when you with confidence pull out that smoking gun of your sales message.

January 17, 2008 Posted by | Sales Tips | , , | 1 Comment

Feel, felt, found.

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.

December 31, 2007 Posted by | Sales Tips | | 1 Comment