Doctors Cite Integrity As #1 Trait They Look For in an Industry Representative

Ever wonder what your doctors want from you? We asked that very question of over 350 doctors in a survey in January of 2008. The answer was integrity!

Not excellent selling skills or disease state knowledge but integrity. Another study, The 2006 Access Report, surveyed 663 high prescribing physicians and found that integrity ranked as the second most important trait they looked for in an industry representative. Their first choice was they wanted a sales representative to understanding of the appropriate use and role of the product relative to other treatment options. Integrity is a vital trait for a pharmaceutical, medical device or biotech representative to possess in today’s competitive market place.

TAP Consulting wondered just what integrity meant to a doctor, so we asked 25 doctors that question.. During 25 phone interviews in spring of 2008 we asked doctors what integrity in a sales representative meant to them. The overwhelming top answer was follow-up! 57% of doctors reported good follow-up as the primary characteristic of a sales representative with high integrity. Follow-up is simply doing what you say you are going to do. If you told the doctor on your last call that you would bring patient education brochures in then make sure you have them on your next call. If you agreed to bring some samples back by the office at the end of the day, make sure you follow through. Below you will find Three Strategies That Will Improve Your Follow-up.

1. Take Good Post-Call Notes
I don’t care how smart you are or how smart you think you are, no one can remember everything they told all 235 doctors. If you don’t write down exactly what you agreed to do in your notes chances are very slim that you will remember to follow through. I recommend a section at the end of your call notes called Next Call Strategy. In that section you should write down your goals for the next call and any follow-up that is required. If the doctor asked for you to review the “Price Study” with him and you always have that in your trunk then the note will just remind you to take that study into the call with you. If you agreed to bring in patient education brochures that you need to order from the home office, then you will need to order those by phone before you leave the parking lot and make sure they are placed in the trunk when the shipment comes in.

2. Always Under Promise and Over Produce
By that, I mean don’t commit to a date that is going to be difficult to make. If you think it will take you three days to accomplish what the doctor asks then tell her you will have it in four days. Give yourself extra time to complete the task requested by the doctor. If you know you can’t accomplish the task by the date requested then let the doctor know you can not fulfill their request. If you think it might be really difficult to accomplish the task by the desired date and you are relying on someone else such as the home office or a printer tell the doctor you doubt you can get it to them by that date but you will do your best. Don’t commit to the date just tell the doctor you will do your best. Many times we needlessly back ourselves into a corner to try and meet a nearly impossible deadline when the best approach is to be honest (integrity) and realistic with the doctor. The doctors we spoke to didn’t say they gave extra points for getting things done early, they just said they expected the representative to exhibit good follow-up skills which is doing what you say you are going to do!

3. Establish a Reliable Follow-up System
Their will be requests by your customers that require follow-up outside of your normal territory activities. For example, you may have a doctor ask you what they need to do to become a speaker for your company. If you don’t know, you will have to make a call to your District Manager or the person in the home office that handles adding doctors to your Speakers Bureau. This goes beyond just adding a note to your Next Call Strategy. In this case you need to have a system that will remind you to get the information and place that information in the call notes for that doctor. Some representatives carry a legal pad with them and write down any “To Do” items that need follow-up. Others use outlook to remind them or have a “To Do” list that pops up on their computer. Whatever the tool you choose use it to remind you to follow-up on those important commitments you’ve made to you customer.

Now that you know what is most important to your doctors and how to improve in that area, let’s begin to implement in your territory and watch your credibility and your sales go up.

Bio Jim Price
Jim Price has been in the healthcare industry for over eighteen years. His experience encompasses numerous pharmaceutical and surgical sales positions As a practice management consultant, Jim has worked with physicians to improve a variety of practice issues from workflow to marketing. He has also advised hospitals on vendor consolidation and procedure efficiencies.

Most recently, Jim served as Director of North American Training and Development for Novartis Ophthalmics. In this position, he was responsible for the training and development of Sales Representatives and Area Sales Managers for the North American markets.

Currently, Jim provides contract training and consultation services for clients in the pharmaceutical, biotech and medical device industry, including: Novartis Ophthalmics, Pfizer Consumer Health, Alimera Sciences, Alliant Pharmaceuticals, Eisai, NovaVision and Ciba Vision.

As a presenter at The Society of Pharmaceutical and Biotech Trainers, Jim has been able to share his extensive experience with other sales training professionals.

TAP Consulting was created to leverage Jim’s extensive experience in physician/representative interactions. The courses offered by TAP Consulting have been designed specifically for the pharmaceutical and medical industry. Drawing on over 500 physician/rep role plays and feedback gathered from physician focus groups, Jim has been able to translate this knowledge into courses which are real time, actionable and drive results.

TAP offers courses in understanding your physician customer, basic and advanced selling skills, selling with clinical reprints and leadership training. Contact Jim Price for more information on TAP services.