Information Retrieval and Redundancy are Critical Success Factors for Medical Sales

A few months ago, I was talking to Denise, a medical sales rep who was asking for some help with a specific sales challenge.  I asked her for some specific information to better define the problem. She said, “Wait a second…I have that written down.”  She pulled out a large planner, about the size of a cinder block that had pieces of paper and sticky notes hanging out all over the place.  As she paged through the calendar section trying to find the note she was referring to, I felt her frustration.  In fact, I felt a bit of frustration myself as I stood and watched this unfortunate and unnecessary display of disorganization.  The challenge she referred to in her territory, at least in my mind, paled in comparison to her inability to file and retrieve important information.

Medical sales affects the lives of the customers you serve and their patients.  As such, details matter. Healthcare providers choose products based not only on their perception of clinical performance, but also on the experience they have with the supplier.  Specifically, the buying choice is often based on the confidence the buyer has in the sales rep.

Pulling out a disorganized-looking planner does little to boost a customer’s confidence, especially if you can’t locate the information you need in seconds.  This is 2014, not 1914.  The world has changed.  Using paper makes you look like an anachronistic amateur.

Medical reps must have information at their fingertips that is instantly retrievable.  When they don’t, they look like fumbling fools.  There are no excuses because today, technology makes it possible and easy.

I know…you’re one of the traditionalists that espouse the use of paper and pen for all of your records. I’m willing to bet it’s costing you business.  Why?  Because it makes you inefficient and it also makes you seem like a dinosaur.

Chances are, you have a smart phone in your pocket or purse.  You probably also have a tablet that you use.  Heck, you might even carry around a laptop computer.  Are you using these devices effectively?

Remember this word: Redundancy. Redundancy can save your ass.

How about your calendar?  If you’re using paper, what happens if you lose your planner?  Probably panic is what happens.  Back in my surgical sales days, I lost my Day-Timer on two different occasions.  My most pressing concern was the surgeries that customers scheduled with me.  It meant calling every hospital and physician’s office to confess losing my schedule and asking them to check their calendars. Also, having to recreate my address book with all of the contact information was not a lot of fun either.

I hope you’re using an electronic calendar to schedule your appointments and maintain your contacts.  I also hope you ensure that it’s backed up.  All important information should be synced across multiple devices and backed-up in the cloud using a storage service like Dropbox or Carbonite.

Let’s talk about recording and storing important information.  If you’re like Denise, it’s time to go paperless.  Yes, I do mean completely!  Here’s what I suggest.

If you haven’t discovered an app called Evernote, it’s time. The capability of Evernote is mind-blowing.  So is the price.  The basic version is free, and that is probably all you’re going to need unless you become a power-user and store large volumes of data.

There are many things you can do with Evernote, but its simplest function is to store notes.  You can create up to 250 notebooks and insert unlimited notes in each notebook.  For example, let’s say you’re planning the sales process to sell a product to an account.  If you’re doing the right things, you’re going to need to make notes about the product, and about the account.  Set up a notebook for the product, e.g., name it “The J-200 Widget” and set up one for the account, e.g., “No Name Medical Center.” Every note you make about either of these subjects gets recorded in the appropriate notebook.  And here’s what’s really cool—you can find any note almost instantly by using the search function.  You can keep it simple, or get very sophisticated using tags.  What’s also cool is that you can load Evernote apps on to every device you have and they will all be in sync.  Even if you lose a device, your notes are retrievable from a different device.  You can find them wherever you are.  And you no longer look like a disorganized sales rep with little pieces of paper everywhere. [Note: I am NOT an Evernote affiliate and I receive no compensation whatsoever for recommending them.  I’m just a huge fan.]

If you’ve ever attended one of my programs, you know I’m a stickler for sales call notes.  That is, after every call, you should record the encounter in detail.  That way, the next time you’re with the same customer, you can review exactly what was discussed and what the customer expects.

The best way to keep sales call records is using a CRM application, or Customer Relationship Management app.  If your company provides one, use it.  Yes, it does benefit them, but it also benefits you—big time!  You’ll always have access to customer records, wherever you are.  That’s huge.

Everyone knows that information is power, but too few medical sales reps harness technology to capture that power.  Just do it.  By the way, if you don’t have a CRM, Evernote functions quite nicely for keeping account notes.  Give it a try.

In medical sales, everything you do matters.  Customers notice little things, often subconsciously. Your ability to retrieve important information easily can be a competitive advantage.  Organize your life, organize your territory, and organize your information.  Your job is stressful enough without paying the price for disorganization.

No matter how convinced you might be that whatever you’re doing to organize yourself is working, it might not look that way to your customers.  Healthcare professionals need to feel confident about the medical sales representatives they do business with.  Little slips of paper all over the place just don’t cut it.

If you have some apps that streamline your job, please share them in the comments section below.