Many years ago, I had the unique opportunity to address an annual meeting of physicians and medical office administrators. While I had a lot of experience in calling on physicians, I had little exposure to the inner-workings of some of America's most interesting corporate offices.
The physician's office landscape is much like that of any other corporation. Physician groups of anywhere from five to 50 doctors can become a multi-million-dollar business. They often employ professional administrators, highly trained human resource directors, staff schedulers, accountants and a large clinical staff. Meetings and appointments are scheduled through a specialized software program, and medical records staff are there to ensure the safety and security of all documents. Often, there is a person responsible for referrals and pharmacy calls.
And then there are the physicians. These often unreachable people are being told in what room the next “customer” is sitting and which line to pick up for the next possible emergency.
Do you have the picture yet? That's all happening on the other side of the glass window, which is surrounded by lots of payment information and notices about which insurance plans the doctors do not accept. And of course, you will find the bell that beckons the “guard” to the window where you are standing, all ready with your business card.
There is no magic formula for getting in the physician's door. Many people may offer suggestions, tips and strategies, but each office has its own personality, as different as each administrator and each doctor.
No one industry has spent more money to train sales representatives about selling to physicians than the pharmaceutical business. Ronda Dean, president of Dalton-Demorest Consulting and the former head of the Women's Health Care Division of Park-Davis, was quoted as saying that successful pharmaceutical reps keep one concept in mind: “They respect the fact that everyone who goes to see a doctor pays for the physician's time — except the pharmaceutical rep. Reps are being given a professional courtesy by the doctor. So unless they want to pay a physician for his or her time, they have to use that time wisely and be respectful of it.”
Dean compares the physician office sales call to a television commercial. She believes the sales call is similar to the commercial, and unless it offers something new and different, people will either turn it off or simply leave the room.
As you plan your next physician sales call, make sure you are going to present something interesting, with medical value, and possibly in a new format. With this in mind, take some advice from the leading pharmaceutical sales trainers:
- Be persistent
There is no doubt you will need the patience, ability and strength to handle rejection. You will need to dedicate more time to these sales calls than you may have planned, and find yourself having to talk to more people before you meet the physician in charge.
Often when that magical window is opened for your first conversation with someone in the office, they will tell you about the best time to speak with the physician. Make note of it, since you cannot afford to keep coming to the office at the wrong time, or sitting for an hour or two waiting to speak to the decision-maker. If you are about to present the “best commercial” the physician has ever heard, you must make sure that he is “home” and that he is able to “watch” you perform.
Doctors will most likely believe in you — if you believe your company and your products can make a difference! When calling on a new referral source, you are asking them to change existing behaviors. Before entering the room past that window, consider how your products and company services can affect the lives of the patients the physician cares for, and the work of those in the office.
Fitting your visit into the physician's office workday is only the beginning. Once there, you need to offer something of value that will help to gain the trust — and the business — from this new customer.
Louis Feuer is president of Dynamic Seminars & Consulting Inc. and the founder and director of the DSC Teleconference Series, a teleconference training program. He can be reached at www.DynamicSeminars.com or by phone at 954/435-8182.