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Maximizing Your Efforts: Honing the Fine Edge

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Research has shown that not only is gaining access to physicians getting more difficult, but once in the office, presentation time is also substantially shorter than years ago. It has also been suggested that the optimal number of product presentations is three, with one reminder. Consequently, what is said and in how much time is more important than ever. Time is now worth a lot more money than it was just a short time ago.

Therefore, in order to assure that what is being presented maximizes impact, extra careful analysis must be given to the prescribing habits of the practice. Exactly what products are being used and for what reasons must absolutely be determined. There once was a time when a cover-to-cover detail hitting every possible point did the trick: throw enough against the wall, and something was guaranteed to stick. Today's tougher competition and tighter schedules no longer allow for this luxury.

Many companies now provide detailed prescribing data; gone are the days of mere zip code information. Yet this data is far too often ignored, when it should in essence be a compass. Focus should be centered on what disease states are treated and with what agents. And absolutely do not waste time talking about the newest antidepressant agent if the physician and his data show he does not treat depression.

Look carefully at what diseases are being treated and, more importantly, which generate the most dollars. Clearly, pride drives us toward getting all our products presented, but ultimately that may not make the most cost-effective sales call. As with any good selling technique, go where the money is.

There is no doubt that the potential to expand business is always a possibility-that is, getting the physician to recognize and consequently treat depression-but this is not always feasible. If time is limited, then attention must be given to those products that will drive bonus dollars and rankings. Save the esoteric discussions for after-hours programs, in services, or hospital continuing education programs.

A corollary to this point is the importance of targeting the most influential healthcare professionals and those who generate the most volume. As mentioned earlier, the little guy cannot be forgotten, but to ensure solid success, focus must be on the accounts and product arenas with the greatest potential.

Learn, understand, and review the company compensation plan; it probably changes regularly. Ensure a complete understanding of what products are being emphasized, which will generate the most commission, and what will drive rankings. Make a conscious decision as to what is important, and then use that as a goal as well as a guide.

The most critical point presented in this book is the importance of targeting: targeting accounts and targeting products/disease states. This may seem somewhat callous, but in order to achieve the greatest business potential, emphasis must be placed where the results will be maximized. It is absolutely critical to work hard, but far more important to work smart.

Your Boss

No doubt a key component in the success of this industry is relationships. Professional sales representatives rightfully devote significant energies to developing, nurturing, and growing professional contacts. Quite often the success of a territory or product may very well hinge on a strong personal relationship.

Yet despite the undeniable importance of relationships, many representatives ignore the significance of making an inward effort to be on good terms with their immediate supervisor. A solid working relationship with a manager can result in as much of a sales edge as one with a key customer.

Synergy results in success almost by definition. A working situation in which there is conflict can do nothing but detract from greater sales attainment. No doubt that this is a two-way street, but the burden falls squarely on the shoulders of the territory representative.

Most representatives admit they are in pharmaceutical sales because of the freedom and self-determination the profession offers. Consequently, demonstrate that you are truly entitled to these opportunities-like most worthwhile things, they must be earned. Be punctual at meetings, respond quickly to customer's requests, work with teammates, and offer assistance to the manager whenever possible. Ask for additional work and responsibility; do not be satisfied by meeting only the minimum requirements. Most importantly, look for things to do that will not only better your performance but also that of the team.

Be aware of the fact that even though your supervisor has your best interests at heart, there are about ten more individuals deserving attention also. But, do not forget that a manager's success depends upon the success of the territories that comprise the district or area. The suggestions, comments, and guidance are truly made to enhance performance of all concerned.

Lastly, no matter how hard we try, there are always going to be some differences with colleagues and certainly bosses. However, try to see past them and look for the greater good. Do not let quibbling and the small stuff get in the way of your bosses' and, more importantly, your own success.

Managing Managed Care

Even the most casual observer cannot help but notice the incredible changes that the healthcare industry has undergone in the past few years. The advent of managed care has literally revolutionized the way medicine is practiced. Consumer pressure and market forces have accomplished what government attempted and failed to do, stop the upward spiral of medical costs.

It is not the purpose of this book to debate the pros and cons of this metamorphosis; certainly numerous physicians and pharmaceutical companies have felt the pinch of evolving healthcare. A true capitalist would perhaps revel in the fact that this all occurred by virtue of supply and demand. Yet, the United States leads the world in cutting-edge technology, medical advances, and quality of medicine practiced, and this position cannot be compromised.

The bottom line is that managed care is here to stay, and we must learn to not only work within the constraints it imposes, but more importantly to thrive. The growth of managed care and international competition, and the consequent downsizing and merging of pharmaceutical organizations, have led many representatives to question the longevity of their occupation. First blush would seem to indicate that there is less and less of a call for the traditional role of a lone salesperson calling on a solo practitioner. It appears that there are more and more high-level contracts, formularies, clinical pathways, and group practices. However, to accept this change, embrace it, and consequently grow with it, will lead to greater opportunities and success.

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