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Maximizing Efforts by Addressing the Needs

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A critical component of successful sales of any kind is identifying a customer's "hot button." Finding and catering to this intangible quality generally garners positive results. Whether it is a textile buyer's favorite color or fabric or an office manager's preferred software package, this knowledge is essential to success. Many representatives take great pains in preparing and mastering artistic, smooth-flowing sales presentations; they are truly the Michelangelos of the industry. These presentations may be pages long and even include flowery prose. They certainly cover many aspects of the product, but do they cover what the physician wants-and, more importantly, needs-to hear?

Time is becoming more and more of a premium in today's market, thus making the few minutes available in front of a physician all the more valuable. Detailed planning and analysis must be given to a sales call in order to maximize those precious minutes. In fact, pre-call planning is as important as the actual sales call itself.

Addressing the physician's needs basically falls into two categories: personal and professional. Personal needs range from favorite sports and hobbies to preferences on how to present a product. Professional needs include type of practice, cost effectiveness of therapy, managed care constraints, and disease states treated. It makes no sense giving a first-rate presentation on angina if the physician refers all patients suffering from it to a cardiologist.

While this may sound fundamental, it is guidance rarely followed. Too often the representative becomes more engrossed in what he has to say than in what the physician wants to hear. This is also exemplified by presentations that address comparison studies with Drug X to a physician who exclusively uses Drug Y. Certainly there may be a limit to studies comparing Drug Y, but if the crossover to his reference is never made, the business is lost.

You can determine what is important to a physician from any number of sources: his staff, col-leagues, or competitors, or from the doctor himself. Review prescribing data so that the presentations are to the point. Ensure that if a customer is extremely concerned about safety that efficacy is not the central theme of the presentation.

It is a worthwhile investment of time to attend seminars or read literature on different personalities and how to address them. This enables you to identify customers' preferred manner of doing business. For example, you do not want to fail to present detailed clinical data to a physician who is very analytical, or be too formal with a customer who prefers a friendly touch. Such resources help teach you to treat your clients the way they want to be treated-a step up from the Golden Rule.

Spending time determining and addressing a customer's needs makes solid business sense and is the foundation for success. Taking this crucial step will truly make an even and equitable playing field. Not only does this assure focused and relevant presentations, but also results in a more comfortable working relationship with the healthcare professional.

Multi product Presentations

An ongoing challenge for any motivated sales professional is saying everything he or she wants to say during a presentation. An ideal world would allow all the time necessary to present products fully and completely, with plenty of time left for questions and answers. Unfortunately, such a world, if it ever did exist, certainly does not exist now. Not only is time sparse for a complete presentation, but it is even more so for the complete portfolio of products. Few representatives have the luxury of carrying only one product. Therefore, most representatives in the industry are challenged with regularly giving multi product presentations. This is no easy task by any stretch of the imagination; sometimes a coherent, technical presentation requires a lot of time, and though a physician may not have this precious resource, our responsibilities and quotas do not diminish. Creative techniques like product discussions over lunch, doughnuts, or a coffee break have always been effective and popular, but what about the rest of the day? One effective answer is to "package" presentations by using themes that carry through the entire presentation; for example, stressing a company's commitment to safety by featuring all products that do not interfere with liver function. Other themes may include once-daily dosing or unsurpassed efficacy in elderly patients. Themes consequently provide smooth bridges from product to product and aid in achieving presentations on the entire line.

Also utilize as many handouts and product reminders as possible. Often these assets are overlooked because of their simplicity, but in the course of a day any healthcare professional is bombarded with large amounts of information. Sometimes, something as simple as a pen may serve to recall an important point brought up a day or two before.

Being concise, effective, and focused will help you make the most of your time. Focus on what the doctor is actually prescribing and treating, and tailor the presentation so that every second is spent addressing his needs and practice.

Lastly, be enthusiastic! Not only is enthusiasm contagious, but it clearly wins you more time simply by its electric nature. Suddenly something special is happening, something interesting, something the physician and the staff now want to hear about. It has been said over and over that enthusiasm sells, and it certainly does, but it also gets you the time you need to make the sale.

The key here is ensuring that every effort is made to make multi product presentations. Do not be deluded into thinking that a second or third product can wait until the next call cycle. This can easily translate into sixty-plus days between calls! And if you see this physician only once a quarter, the interval becomes even more erosive.

Multi product portfolios require multi product presentations. Success hinges on being able to regularly present and sell the entire line. Failing to do so not only shortchanges the customer, but, more importantly, you.
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