Sales Safari: Drawing on the Growth Mindset
Selling Skills – By Patrick Veroneau
For many to ‘survive,’ they will need to draw on a growth mindset
Anyone who has watched a documentary on the transition from the wet season to the dry season in Africa is familiar with images of lush streams and watering holes that quickly dry up and force many animals to compete for water, a very scarce resource. Today, many in the life sciences industry are being faced with what is synonymous to the African dry season. But instead of water, it is virtual access that is drying up.
For many to “survive” until the wet season returns in the form of increased physical access, they will need to draw on a growth mindset.
While there are certainly challenges in gaining access to providers, those who have had the greatest success have focused on a growth mindset by asking how they will add value first and then strategizing their approach to gaining access and delivering that value. For the purposes of this article, I am going to focus on two areas for increasing access: how to collaborate with people inside and outside your company, and how to make the meeting request more appealing.
Avoid the Lion
To play on the African analogy a little more, Mark Nathan, the CEO of Zapari, once said, “Nobody ever comes up with a brilliant idea while they are being chased by a lion.”
In life sciences, those that are chased by managers about metrics will be limited in their ability to come up with creative access solutions as well. Those that push the oldschool “check the box” activities, such as calls per day, will continue to watch access decline because their company’s focus is on activity rather than adding value.
In a January 2021 Bonus Focus article, “How Coincidence, Correlation and Causality Are Creating Stress for Reps”, I discussed how this lack of access and the sales process are negatively impacting reps. With limited options, many have turned to services like Zoom. However, this virtual meeting platform has been over-utilized and is now diluting the effectiveness of virtual meetings as an access tool.
I spend a great deal of my time with healthcare providers today on leadership and team development initiatives and much of their interaction with each other is also on Zoom or similar platforms. Now add the number of representatives that are reaching out for appointments and the volume of requests is overwhelming. I had a nurse manager and physician describe it as “zoomitis” and called their staff “zoombies” because they weren’t really engaged on the calls.
Don’t Destroy the Watering Hole
To avoid “zoomitis” or participants who are “zoombies,” representatives should focus on collaborating both internally and externally with individuals to maximize the time and increase the value that is provided to the customer.
As a suggestion, provide a Zoom panel comprised of a sales representative, a reimbursement specialist and a medical science liaison (MSL). To stay compliant, you could have the representative start the call and then exit the call before either the reimbursement specialist or the MSL speak.
This would provide a single meeting to be scheduled for the provider and would allow them to bring people in to hear parts of the meeting that are more relevant to their role. This will require individuals and different departments to work together rather than work against each other for a shrinking pool of appointments. A collaborative approach will be especially helpful for new representatives trying to gain access and build relationships as well.
This approach requires thinking about the best interest of all your counterparts, not just yourself. A representative I spoke with said that he was partnered up with a reimbursement specialist and the specialist decided to start contacting his targets without discussing a collaborative working strategy. They missed an opportunity to meet with one of their targets because the physician became angry about being contacted by too many different people from the same company. The watering hole evaporated in that one action.
It Takes a Village
Collaborating with external organizations may also provide an opportunity to gain access and maximize value to the provider. I once sold a drug in the leukemia space, and to increase access and provide more value, I would schedule appointments with a representative from the Leukemia Lymphoma Society in my area. We each had certain relationships that the other person didn’t have and it helped us to gain access while also adding more impact to the call.
Where it’s not a compliance issue, you may try to meet with reps from noncompeting companies to set appointments. I know of reps who sell drugs that require molecular testing and they share appointments with molecular testing reps. Both gain greater access, and the provider has the opportunity to maximize their education.
However, to have a successful meeting first requires that you convince the provider that you are worth their time. Recognizing that your customer is probably receiving dozens of requests to meet daily, you need to find ways that make your subject line stand out.
While there may be variances in what some companies allow for individualized email requests, it is important to be creative in any area you can while remaining compliant with your company. A great resource is a book called How to Write Copy That Sells, written by Ray Edwards. In his book he provides creative strategies for getting people to open an email as well as what to say in the body that will get them to act.
Also, if you are asking for an appointment, make it easy and provide two alternative dates. This requires less effort to schedule compared to an open-ended appointment request. Another great tool is called Calendly. With Calendly, you send your calendar to the provider and they can pick any day you have available.
Get Ready for Rain
It is unclear when physical access will return and how it might look when it does. While you can’t control the timing of that, you can control how you strategize and collaborate with those around you to conserve the limited access available and provide greater value.
A common leadership mantra in the industry is “this is a marathon, not a sprint.” Those organizations that truly align their behaviors with those words will be the ones that are around to enjoy greater opportunities when the wet season returns.
Patrick Veroneau is the CEO of Emery Leadership Group. Email Patrick at