Don’t have time to make medical sales calls? That’s Bull!
When medical sales reps hurl excuses at their managers and others (including me) as to why their sales numbers are flat, I tell them N-O-R-C. I like these four letters because they are easily text-able (today’s medical reps like to communicate with their thumbs, and that’s a separate issue I will address at another time) and it gets to a point of motivation they need to internalize. N-O-R-C stands for No One Really Cares!
Unless you have a life-threatening condition, the reasons you offer for not performing are in your head…especially this one: I don’t have time to make sales calls. I work a lot with surgical sales people who spend much of their day in the operating room and this is often stated as their biggest challenge. If you subscribe to this notion, your biggest challenge isn’t that you don’t have time to sell—your biggest challenge is that you believe your own mierda de toro!
It’s very easy to fall into the customer-service, case-coverage trap as a sales person. Sure, you’re with customers, you’re probably picking up a P.O. every time that you do it and you go home dog-tired feeling like you’ve earned your commissions. You can acknowledge this or not, but I’m going to give it to you straight and you’re probably not going to like it—the commissions you are paid for providing customer service today were earned at the time you made the sale. This doesn’t mean you get to coast today because you’re servicing a deal you closed six months ago. If you don’t agree, go back to the word “sales” in your job description (whether it’s actually stated or just implied).
Customer service reps earn a fraction of what medical sales professionals do. The healthcare industry is changing and many are discovering that there is no longer a place for over-paid customer-service reps. If selling isn’t your number one priority, EVERY DAY, you’re screwed. Okay, time to address your “don’t have time to sell” fantasy.
If you have ever said, or even thought, “I don’t have time to make sales calls,” your problem is that your time and territory management skills suck! You have the same amount of time each day as every one of your competitors and if they’re growing their business and you’re not, there are probably many reasons and I’ll guarantee you that one of those reasons is that they are using their time to make more sales calls than you. I hear the excuse in your head: “My competitors have more sales time because they aren’t as busy providing customer service like I am.” Exactly, and that’s your fault. But you still have sales time…lots of it.
When I entered the orthopedic implant business back in the days of beepers and payphones, the star sales rep in the company I represented was a guy named Bob. The year was 1984 and Bob was earning almost half a million a year in his territory. Adjusted for inflation, that’s equal to over $1.1 million today. By the way, the company he represented was the laughing-stock in the business, infamous for a lack of innovation and outdated products. No one in the state outsold Bob, I mean No ONE—even though every other sales rep had superior products.
You’re probably making excuses right now and thinking, “Sure, 1984—surgeons didn’t expect reps to be in the OR with them for every case…and you would be right, except, Bob was at every case. His level of customer service was unparalleled. But Bob’s philosophy was that any minute you didn’t spend selling that you could use for selling was a minute wasted. Bob didn’t waste time, whereas 99.99% of sales reps do.
I spent a very exhausting day with Bob. Most of his customers liked him and those who didn’t at least respected him. He never wasted an encounter with a customer. Each contact was a chance to uncover sales opportunities or to schedule dedicated sales time with the customer. Between cases, Bob didn’t sit in the nurse’s lounge. He visited every department associated with his products and sold to every customer. His believed it was important to call on the influencers as well as the deciders, and he did—every day!
Bob carried a chart with him that identified every surgeon by location and schedule, i.e., the days and hours each surgeon was in the office. If he was driving from one hospital to another with 15 minutes to spare and the trip took him past an office where he knew the surgeon was in, he made a sales call. And he would tell the receptionist to tell the doctor that he needed to see him right away because Bob was short on time (that’s chutzpah!). He got in to see every surgeon we visited that day, and he did it effortlessly.
Lunch? Lunch was an apple in the car. Bob’s attitude was, “My competitors are eating lunch. While they’re relaxing, I’m going to steal their business.” And he did. You might feel as if you’re entitled to take an hour for lunch, but let me caution you—entitlement is very expensive, especially if you compete against someone like Bob!
Bob’s day didn’t end at 5 p.m., in fact, that was prime selling time. His calendar had 5:30 and 6:00 pm appointments every day! And even on his way to an appointment at this late hour, he would make cold calls if he had 10 minutes to spare. What’s in the 6 p.m. slot in your calendar each day…I’m talking in writing, not just in good intentions?
The bottom line is that Bob was extremely organized, competitive, and motivated. He could have made excuses, including the same ones you might use, but he didn’t. He just made sales calls his number one priority, non-stop…while providing exceptional customer service.
If you find yourself proffering the excuse that you’re too busy to make sales calls, your sales are going to flat-line, if they haven’t already. If you believe this lie, you’ve entered the realm of stupidity and it will eventually cost you your job. It might be hard to swallow, but you’re in medical sales in the age of performance, not mediocrity.