The “One Thing” That Will Make or Break Your Medical Sales Career
When I look back over my long career in medical sales, there was one thing that I
always did consistently. My customers always told me that this was the main reason
they did business with me. Quite honestly, I was shocked to learn that every sales
person didn’t do the same thing. But after speaking to many of my old customers, I
realize that this was truly the key to my success. Do you want to know what it is?
Don’t be shocked when I tell you. It’s so simple, so obvious, but many sales people
just don’t do it. I was glad for my competitors who didn’t, because their failure to do
this one thing opened many, many doors for me.
Are you ready? Okay – here it is:
Always do what you say you are going to do!
I know what you’re thinking – “That’s it? That’s the key?”
Yes. That’s the key. Notice I underlined the word always. It doesn’t say “most of the
time, or “usually.” It says always, and I mean always.
Everyone in business makes promises and commitments on a daily basis. Either you
volunteer to do something, or a customer or prospect asks you to do something.
Following up on this commitment is the key to long-term success in sales.
I believe the number one quality you can have in business is to be trusted. Earning
trust is as simple as doing what you say you will do and being who you say you are.
For example, if you tell people you are honest and ethical, you had better be honest
and ethical without any deviations – ever, or the trust is gone.
The seemingly little things add up big time towards the trust factor. Have you ever
told a customer, “I’ll find out that information and call you tomorrow,” and then two or
more days passed until you called them? Or have you ever said, “I’ll deliver that to
your office in a day or two” and then get it there in a week or two, or not at all? If this
sounds too familiar, then it could be one of the reasons that your business is not
growing like it should.
Here’s a tip. Ask yourself, “Do I do everything that I say I am going to do all the time?”
Be brutally honest with yourself and If you’re not sure if you can, then ask some of
your customers that you have called on for a year or longer, Just be prepared for
some shocking news.
Here’s How It’s Done
Now I’m going to tell you how to do what you say you are going to do all the time
without failure. It’s going to take some effort on your part, but I promise you that the
small amount of time invested will yield huge dividends.
I have a good memory, but it’s not good enough to remember every detail and every
commitment that I make. So I write them all down! And I don’t write them just
anywhere – I write them in my personal planner in a way that demands that I take
Here is what I do, and before you ask, the answer is yes – I do it for every promise or
commitment that I make. Whenever a customer, prospect, friend, associate, or
whomever asks me to do something, my immediate concern is what and when. So if a
customer asks me, “Mace can you call me tomorrow afternoon so I can give you that
information,” the first thing I’m going to do is get out my calendar for tomorrow
afternoon and see if I have a realistic time slot to call him. If I’m booked solid with
appointments or I’m going to be tied up training or speaking, then I won’t commit to
that day. I’ll check the next day and if it’s good I’ll say, “tomorrow is not good, what
time can I call you the day after.” If that works, I enter it in my planner like an
appointment – because it is an appointment!
Now here is another thing that I do, because it works for me. Have you ever entered
an appointment or task in your planner and then you became so busy doing
something you didn’t check your schedule until it was too late? That is one of the
reasons I use an electronic planning device. It allows me to set an alarm
to remind me of the commitments that I have made so I don’t forget. When the alarm
goes off, I excuse myself and make the call. Done!
What happens if I get tied up and can’t keep the appointment? I call the customer
and let them know that something has come up so they don’t think that I forgot or I’m
irresponsible. I reschedule the commitment with them and enter it in my iPhone, or if
time is lacking, I tell them that I will call them at a time to reschedule and then enter
that in my electronic calendar. Do you get this?
Let’s review because this is important. Before you agree to a phone call, a delivery
date, a sales call, or anything when a time is specified – get out your planner and
make sure the time will work for you. Only then should you commit and enter it as a
must-do appointment. Personally, nothing drives me crazier than a contractor or
vendor who promises to meet me somewhere, doesn’t show, and then when I call him,
he tells me that he got tied up on another job!
Have you ever heard the phrase under-promise and over-deliver? This works great
for commitments. Try to schedule yourself some extra time for getting back to
someone and then get back to him or her sooner. Ninety-nine percent of the time it
will be appreciated.
Here is another pearl that will take you a long way towards success in sales. Make
sure you are aware and follow up on the promises that your managers, associates, or
anyone else in your company makes to customers or prospects. Take responsibility
for making sure that whoever made the promise, follows up on it.
I had a manager named Ted who my customers loved whenever they were around
him. He was charming and charismatic but he had the fault of telling them that he
would call them next week to invite them to his beach house for the weekend, or to get
together with the spouses for dinner, and then he would never call. This would upset
my customers – a lot!
I learned that any time Ted had contact with my customers; there was a good
possibility that he promised them something. Initially, I tried asking Ted, but his
charisma was often offset by his short memory. So I would contact every customer
after they met with Ted to ask if he made any commitments by asking, “Did Ted say
when he would be in touch with you again?” Once I learned that Ted was supposed
to get back to them on anything, the following day, week, or month, I did several
things. First, I marked it on my calendar for the date that Ted was supposed to follow
up. Second, I called Ted’s secretary and asked her to put it on his calendar. Third, I
called Ted and discussed the importance of him keeping that commitment. When the
date rolled around for Ted to get back in touch, I followed-up to make sure it
Why would I go through all of that? Because when anyone in my company makes
commitments they don’t keep, it makes me look bad. I wasn’t going to let that happen
with Ted and I’m not complacent about it now. Make sure all of your associates,
managers, and support people do as they say when it comes to your customers.
So there you have it – the number one key to long-term success in sales. It’s simple
in concept, but it takes some effort to make it happen. Remember, if you are
someone that people can trust, then little can stop you.
P.S. For those of you who just finished this article and said, “that’s simple – I’m going
to do that,” don’t forget to also honor the commitments you make to yourself. If you
don’t start doing this today, then when?