That’s the estimated new cases of cancer that will be diagnosed in the United States, alone, in 2018, according to the National Cancer Institute. Of those, approximately 609,640 people will lose their battle with this disease.
With these shockingly-high estimations, there’s no doubt that nearly everyone has been affected by cancer in some form. This is especially true of breast cancer, noted as this year’s most common type of cancer. As we recognize Breast Cancer Awareness month here at MedReps, we want to honor those who have fought and continue to fight this disease while also celebrating advancements in treatment options.
New research, technology, and developments allow for expanding treatments for various diseases and conditions, like the breast cancer vaccine. However, it’s critical that medical sales reps take a moment to consider how these very personal products will be approached and sold.
Being awarded the opportunity to sell potentially life-changing products is an incredible responsibility. With this responsibility, comes the heightened awareness that medical sales reps will be placed in difficult, sometimes heart-wrenching, situations as they present products to customers who have direct and personal experiences with those diseases and conditions.
Here are three ways to sell products that hit close to home for many people:
1. Acknowledge their experiences.
Everyone’s experiences with serious illnesses are different. Even with something as common as breast cancer, each person feels different symptoms, emotional pains, and accepts varying treatments. Loved ones also accept and deal with their emotions differently throughout the journey.
That’s why step number one is to always remember — there is no right or wrong.
By acknowledging the struggle as unique and individual, you’re giving customers the power to share and own their story. Leave all assumptions and judgments aside as they open up.
This may be where you need to stop during your first meeting — and that’s OK. Meetings without approaching the subject of products or patient needs are still productive. Your ability to empathize (or sympathize) shows customers you’re there for them as human beings, not solely as their medical sales rep.
2. Read the room.
The emotional rollercoasters people are put on when dealing with illnesses are intense, to say the least. Each personality type will handle these emotions in different ways. Some may become too detailed for comfort, others may lightly touch the subject and move on, and you could even encounter people who are, understandably, emotionally unstable.
Being able to ‘read the room’ is a critical medical sales skill and helps reps prepare for any one of these reactions. According to Annie McKee, author of How to Be Happy at Work, “You need to understand other people — what they want, what they don’t want, their fears, hopes, dreams, and motivations,” she says. “This builds trust. And trust is fundamental to getting things done.”
To do this, you need to constantly assess how customers are responding to you — from the beginning of the meeting to the very end. Do they move in their chair a certain way when you mention the name of a disease? As you discuss the lifesaving capabilities of your product, do they seem to tense-up or are they leaning in to hear more?
Noting these small reactions is monumental when it comes to both making sales and creating lasting relationships with clients.
3. Don’t get too personal.
There’s a fine line between creating a meaningful relationship and getting overly personal in your business relationships. Often times, when you’re selling a product that hits close to home, this line is even more challenging to define — especially if you or someone you know has been impacted by the disease or condition.
For example, it can be tempting to share your entire story with customers to help prove the importance of your product. However, there’s a difference between letting them know you can relate and making the entire meeting about yourself.
Your story is important, but so is their time. Oversharing leads to distractions and even awkwardness, taking you farther away from the details of your medical sales product.
Let customers know you relate to the hardships of them and their patients. You can even explain how a product like yours would’ve changed the course of your or your loved one’s lives. Then, move on to the product or your customer’s personal story. This gives them the opportunity to connect with you personally while discussing their own personal or professionally encountered trials and triumphs.
Have you ever sold a product that hits close to home for you or customers? Tell us how you did it!