So, you’re about to pitch your product. To be fair, there’s no one right way to sell, but there are plenty of wrong ones. Use the following do’s and don’ts to walk yourself through your entire pitch and beyond.
The Do’s and Don’ts of Pitching
To start out, face-to-face time with physicians is a scarce resource these days, so before you go running into your next office, it pays to plan things out. And during your pitch, you need to be agile and ready to adapt without forgetting what you’re there to do.
Before Your Pitch
DON’T go in blind. Nothing turns a physician off more than a sales rep who asks non-stop questions.
DO research your prospect in advance. Most employers provide you with prescribing or prior sales data that you can use to understand your physician. For example, do they use a competitor? How many patients do they treat? What insurances plans do they partner with and see in their patient population? Every answer you find now is one less question you have to ask your prospect. And that means more selling time for you.
DON’T slack off on competitive research. You know you have the best product, so that’s all you need to know, right? Taking this approach will kill your credibility.
DO know your competitor’s product inside and out. Of course, you’ll want to know every relevant detail of your drug or device and the same for your competitors. When you do, you can become a source of knowledge for a physician.
During the Sales Call
DON’T launch into selling right away. You might be excited or worried that you won’t have enough time to deliver your message. Unfortunately, this causes some reps to jump into sales mode right from the handshake.
DO be patient and polite. Even your biggest physician supporters don’t want to be knocked over by a runaway sales pitch. If the two of you are sitting down to lunch or another appointment, allow them time to decompress. Whatever activity they just came from was probably stressful, and you want their mind clear when you start to present.
DON’T expect a physician to prompt you to start selling. Some reps, perhaps out of fear, will delay the act of pitching as long as possible. They may think getting the doctor to like them will substitute for selling, but in reality, they only waste precious time.
DO stay aware of your time during the sales call and redirect the conversation as needed. When your prospect is off to the races telling a story, an easy and polite way to regain control is to agree with them, contribute to the current subject, and ask to now discuss your product.
DON’T expect your prospect to know your product. Doctors are highly-educated people. And as salespeople, if we’re not careful we can assume that they don’t need to hear basic things like a drug’s indication.
DO go over the basics and the details of your drug or device. Chances are, your company will mandate that you do so anyway, to stay compliant. Another benefit of reviewing the basics is saving your prospect’s pride. Otherwise, they may avoid asking what could feel like a dumb question, especially in the company of other physicians. And lastly, if they don’t understand what you’re saying, they’re not likely to listen to you.
DON’T wait until the end of your pitch to answer objections. You may have practiced your presentation from beginning to end in training. So, when you get out in the field, you want to plow through it just like you learned.
DO pay attention to the physician and whoever else is in the meeting and stop periodically to check in with them. Research has shown that prospects don’t wait to make one monumental decision at the end of your talk but rather multiple minor choices along the way. So if you’re not stopping to ask for feedback, you could be losing their attention – and the sale.
DON’T expect a physician to tell you if they’re going to use your product. Some reps think that if they give a compelling enough pitch, the physician will stand up and declare she wants to use their product.
DO instead make an effort, however awkward it feels, to ask their thoughts and willingness to use your product with their patients. And ask for specifics, like what patient type would they use it in and how often they see that type of patient. You’re always better off leaving a call with a clear idea of what to expect from the physician than relying on hope alone.
DON’T ask the doctor to use your product for every patient they have. Sometimes reps and their managers get excited by the prospect of mass conversion, but it rarely happens overnight.
DO ask the physician to try your drug or device on a reasonable amount of patients. If your product is superior enough to the competition, a trial will be enough for them to want to use it in other patients. It’s not that you don’t want all their business. However, you don’t want to turn them off from trying your product because you made an unrealistic demand.
After the Sales Call
DON’T expect all of your work to be done after one sales pitch. Even after they commit to using your product, things can go wrong. For example, a pharmacy could tell them your drug is not covered, or they might have difficulty ordering.
DO follow-up consistently after your sales pitch. Most profitable sales don’t happen over one sales call. Even the happiest physician can lose interest given enough time.
DON’T ignore the influence of a doctor’s staff. We all know that physicians are nearly always the ultimate decision-maker. Still, it can take only one unhappy MA, nurse, or technician to derail your progress with the doctor.
DO develop authentic relationships with office staff. Often, doctors rely on their staff to keep them on schedule and on task. Every staff member that’s onboard with your product is like an ally that can remind the doctor when and where to use it.
The Bigger Picture
By now, you’ve probably gathered that a compelling medical sales pitch begins before and finishes well after your sales call. The key to long-term success is honing your sales skills and applying them to your product and customers. And in truth, the pitch is only one of many vital components of a successful medical sales career. If you’d like to master the others, be sure to check this blog on a regular basis to gain new insights.