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Creating Tension: A Sales Strategy

By April 11, 2023LTEN Focus On Training

Field Sales – By Charles Brennan, Jr.

Tension gets people uncomfortable enough to open their minds

The most effective way a field salesperson can get an individual to reevaluate their thought process is to establish a conversation that raises to the level of critical thought. One of the main reasons why the healthcare provider will not immediately change what they are doing is because they have not been engaged at a high enough level for them to stop, reassess, think and therefore reevaluate.

Creating tension is a worthy philosophy; it gets the recipients uncomfortable enough to open their minds willingly or unwillingly and drop their prejudices for the moment. The challenge is: What is the road map field teams can follow to make this conversation happen without being contentious?

Be Prepared

The unprepared field representative who lacks the upskills to carry an appropriate conversation that achieves this threshold will obviously be less successful. Simply put, there is a need for a “strategic interaction” to occur to achieve the threshold of critical thought. This requires planning, skills and execution. It is also essential to stay ahead of a conversation, rather than on pace or behind. An understandable statement!

When under tension or challenged, how do you respond as an individual? Do you push back, defend, debate or provide a rebuttal? If deep down, you know you should be doing something differently or recognize it is time for a change, the nudge or challenge will be successful to move the “pawn” forward, because the canvas for whatever reason has already been “prepared for the paint.”

But what if the “canvas” is not? What if the provider doesn’t see an immediate need, feels their protocol is acceptable and not worth the effort to change? What happens next?

Spot the Disconnect

Most leaders know of the gaps that exist within their talent pool. But, on occasion, they may overestimate the ability of their team.

In a recent scenario, one client indicated their field force was highly rated, well over 50% in creating critical thought. However, they felt the need to employ tension to the conversation.

There is a disconnect in this situation. If the level of conversation is that high, the ignition of reconsideration is present and it does not have to be forced.

What needs to be considered is the following: Know the predictability of the customer and determine their biases. Craft a conversation that will address these preset memories and open their minds to alternatives. Anticipate the responses to ensure the answers do not surprise the field representative or make them hesitate with their answer.


Too many conversations start ineffectively and end poorly, simply because the above is not put in place. Elevating a conversation with a highly sophisticated customer will normally have an advantage over pushing and will certainly leave the door open for the next productive conversation.

Charles Brennan Jr. is president of Brennan Sales Institute and author of Rake Your Sales to the Next Level. Email Charles at


About LTEN

The Life Sciences Trainers & Educators Network ( is the only global 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization specializing in meeting the needs of life sciences learning professionals. LTEN shares the knowledge of industry leaders, provides insight into new technologies, offers innovative solutions and communities of practice that grow careers and organizational capabilities. Founded in 1971, LTEN has grown to more than 3,200 individual members who work in pharmaceutical, biotech, medical device and diagnostic companies, and industry partners who support the life sciences training departments.

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