Up Your Game in Times of Change
What does it take to get your foot in the door and grow your market share?
Selling Skills – by Amy Glass
If you’ve been in life sciences sales for more than five years, you’ve seen huge changes. I remember when the goal for representatives was simple: Go to a doctor’s office and present three drugs for five minutes, then leave samples and maybe buy the staff lunch. Today, industry complexity has grown, and access is more limited. What once worked doesn’t anymore.
So, what does it take to get your foot in the door and grow your market share? This five-step strategic approach can help:
1. Know Your Product.
This goes deeper than being trained on your product. It means developing a depth of knowledge, in areas like pricing, insurance, disease state and alternative treatment options. It’s equally important to understand competitors’ products.
“I’ve been surprised by the amount of detailed clinical information physicians are looking for from sales reps,” said Keith A. Willis, a 25-year industry veteran who has launched multiple products. “This means a great deal of clinical training for reps and understanding the place of real-world data as it relates to clinical data.”
2. Know Your Customer.
Today, there are multiple buyers and decision-makers, including health systems, group practices, pharmacy personnel, nurse practitioners, insurance companies and more.
“Just as pharma has become more specialized, physician offices have, too,” Willis explained. “There are many different people with so many roles and responsibilities doing specialized jobs within each office. Understanding what each individual does has become so important for reps.”
Looking at providers’ prescribing data can help reps get a sense of patterns on their record (writing generic vs. brand-name prescriptions, for instance). LinkedIn can shed light on job descriptions, work history, and where customers went to school. HealthGrades is another powerful tool for learning about a provider’s style and reputation. Most healthcare systems post detailed provider bios online. Details
can make the difference when sparking that initial connection.
Top life sciences sales reps use strategic questioning and active listening to reveal their customers’ wants, needs and values. The most powerful questions feed into their agenda, not yours. As Willis said, “It’s less about the specific questions you ask, and more about whether you’re exhibiting a genuine curiosity about the provider’s needs.”
Asking strategic questions and actively listening helps build relationships and align on goals.
4. Build Trust and Develop Partnerships.
Trust is at the heart of life sciences sales. Without it, you can’t develop partnerships with providers.
Successful reps I have chatted with during training programs recommend always focusing on the patient. They say reps should always think, “What would be best for the patient?” Live by this credo and you’ll build true provider partnerships and increased market share. Consistency is key to building a reputation that you’re reliable and genuine. If you promise a provider something, deliver.
5. Engage in Dialogue, Not Monologue.
Failure to engage providers in dialogue can spell disaster. Respect them by engaging in authentic conversation that values their input.
“You have data, and they have data,” Willis said. “Give your opinion, and then give them the opportunity to reply every time.”
The pace of change in healthcare shows no signs of slowing down. But armed with these five skills, you can continue to provide indispensable value to your customers — and take your business further.
Amy Glass is executive vice president at BRODY Professional Development. Email Amy at firstname.lastname@example.org.