Doctor, Stop Wasting Time With Medical Sales Representatives Who Don’t Offer Unconditional Value to Your Practice and Your Patients

This is a reprise of an article that was posted several years ago. While the title gives the appearance that it is written for doctors, it’s really for medical sales professionals…and doctors, because doctors do business with some medical sales reps for the wrong reasons.  Share this with your colleagues. You might even write the URL on a piece of paper and slip it onto an offending physician’s desk. Above all, make sure you’re not one of the sales reps I advise doctors to avoid in this article.


Doctor, have you ever wanted to kick yourself (or your receptionist) after meeting with sales reps who just suck the time and energy out of your day? Meetings with salespeople should add value to your practice, not delay your day unnecessarily.

Medical sales professionals benefit healthcare providers by offering product information and other information of educational importance. How can you manage your interactions with salespeople to maximize the benefits and avoid a huge time drain? The answer is to only meet with professional representatives who bring unconditional value for you and your patients and stop meeting with those who don’t.

Revisit the Visit

Sales representatives call on doctors and other clinicians mainly for one reason–to sell them something! But clinicians take time out of their day to meet with salespeople for different reasons–often the wrong reason. Do you ever waste time with salespeople by engaging in these useless interactions?

* Free for All     Many doctors can’t resist free drug samples, free lunches, or free “goodies” (i.e. pens, pads, soaps, trinkets and other stuff they really don’t need) so they’ll agree to a quick meeting. If you need to provide a signature for product samples, that’s fine. But why are you altering your day for free food and a box of tissue with an ad on it? If a rep offers you a stuffed animal to get in your door and then provides valuable information, that’s great. But if it’s just a repeat of the same message you have already heard, what did that $1.00 toy cost you in terms of your time?  Fortunately, many reputable companies have discontinued this practice so they’ll be looking for other ways to get in your door…such as by providing real value!

* Hangin’ with the Homies    This is when sales reps that you know stop by to “check-in” without offering any legitimate benefit to your practice. It’s a benefit to them though, since you’re a customer or potential customer and they feel like they’re doing something productive, even though they’re just visiting and wasting your time!

* Embrace the Face     Maybe you have, or maybe you haven’t, but too many professionals open their doors to attractive sales reps for nothing more than the pleasure derived by spending a few moments with them. It’s nice to look at a pretty face, but ask yourself, how much is it worth in terms of your time and your staff’s time (who are probably very irritated when you do this).

* Nice to be Nice      You want to be nice and you anticipate that you may need this person’s services, equipment or products one day and you want to create and maintain a relationship where they will respond quickly if you should call. So you sit through a sales presentation, despite a lack of interest or need for what they are selling.

Time is the most precious, irreplaceable commodity you have. If you’re going to give some of it up, it should be an investment i.e., you should receive something in return that is legal, ethical, and benefits you, your practice and your patients. The value should be unconditional in that it is derived from the time that you spend with the salesperson and not based solely on using his product or service.

Value the Value

Medical sales professionals (as opposed to medical sales reps) are a great resource for learning about current trends in your specialty and the local medical community. They are experts on their products and similar products and can share approved ways that healthcare practitioners are effectively using those products. Knowledge is power and medical sales professionals have access to a lot of useful information.

One sign of a true medical sales professional is by how he or she begins a sales presentation. The conversation is about you and your practice, not about them, their company, or their product. They take time to understand your specific situation and clinical approach to match you with a product that might be able to improve your practice and your patients’ outcomes.

Avoid salespeople who just talk about their products without ever discussing your needs. They’re only goal is to sell you something, and they won’t care whether a good fit for you and your patients or not.

The Healthcare Provider’s Rules of Engagement for Sales Representatives Who Meet with Them

Since you decide which sales reps to see and when, why not define some expectations for the visit.  Consider mandating these Rules of Engagement:

* Yes, it is all about me (and my patients). If all you do is talk about your product or service, I can only assume that you’re the only one who stands to benefit. You can’t know if your product or service is a good fit for me until you understand how I approach the particular indication for which your product is designed. I don’t want to know everything your product does; I only care how it will improve my practice and how it benefits my patients.

* It’s about time. Time I spend with a sales rep is time not spent with my patients, my practice, or my family. If I spend time with you, I expect to receive valuable information that will be useful even if I don’t buy from you.

* Get to the point to avoid the point of no return! Discussing football, golf, my last vacation or any other non-clinical B.S. is a waste of my valuable time. Don’t try to warm me up and build a relationship on things that don’t matter. If I want pleasant chit-chat with you, I’ll initiate it. Just get to the point–why are you here? Build a relationship with me by offering value and respecting my valuable time; otherwise you’re out of here and you won’t be allowed back.
Medical sales professionals offer valuable educational and informational opportunities to healthcare providers. Think of them as continuing education that visits your office. Help them to help you by setting the expectation of receiving unconditional value whenever you meet to discuss business, and you will no longer have sales reps sucking the time and energy out of your day.