Medical Sales Reps: Sara’s Method for Leaving Irrelevant and Annoying Voicemail Messages

Yesterday, I stopped to say hello to a surgeon who has been a good friend of mine for years.  He motioned for me to have a seat in his office as he was rapidly going through his voice mails.  I was impressed with the speed at which he punched the delete button to avoid wasting even a second on any message which did not interest him.

One message stands out because of the comment the doctor made.  The message was, “Dr. Barns, this is Sara with (she stated the name of her company, which I will omit to spare them the embarrassment). I’m really excited and I have some exciting news to share with you.  Call me back at 555-5555.  I can’t wait to talk to you. Bye.”

The doctor, thinking out loud retorted, “Sara, I’m glad you’re excited…I’m not excited.”  He hit delete without making a note of the message and quickly moved to the next.

I asked him about Sara’s message.  “Steve, do you have any idea what Sara is talking about that should excite you?”

He shot me a clueless look and said, “I don’t even know who she is.  I’ve got 26 patients to see this afternoon.  The only excitement I’m interested in is the excitement I will feel if I get out of the office while it is still daylight…then I’ll be excited!”

I thought about Sara.  She’s probably calling every customer in her territory, leaving a similar message, and getting a similar response to the one I witnessed.  What’s sad is that she likely feels as if she is being productive because she’s staying busy.  Dr. Barns blew off the call and didn’t give it another thought.  Unfortunately, some of Sara’s other customers will respond to her “salesy” approach and not in a nice way.  They will tell their staffs to keep her out of the office.  Busy medical professionals guard their valuable time from salespeople who seem to want to waste it.

Leaving a voicemail when a customer is unavailable has become a way of life.  If you can’t leave one that’s effective, you’re better off not leaving one at all.  And if you can’t leave an effective voicemail, you probably can’t sell effectively either because leaving a voicemail is nothing more than an extension of your sales effort.  Is your entire value proposition based on “I’m excited?”  If no, then why would you leave a voice mail message suggesting that it is?

Healthcare customers don’t care about how excited you are, how great your product is, or what you want to show them, sell them, or share with them.  Their ONLY concerns are meeting THEIR goals and priorities, solving THEIR problems, overcoming THEIR challenges, and hopefully, helping THEIR patients.  If you can’t articulate a value proposition that suggests your ability to accomplish these things for your customers, then you need to invest the time to learn how to do this and avoid your customers until you do.

Here’s a tip for sales managers:  Do you have a non-performing sales rep?  Ask him/her to leave you a voice mail message as if you are a customer who isn’t available.  What is the value proposition implied in the voice mail?  Is the message customer/patient focused or sales rep (I’m excited!)/product focused?  If someone left you this voice mail, would you return the call? 

Messages like Sara’s are surprisingly common.  That’s bad for those who sell like Sara, but it’s a great opportunity for the small percentage of medical sales professionals who know how to deliver a relevant message effectively and consistently.

“Sara, if you would like to be able to deliver a customer-focused message so that customers will make spending time with you a priority so you can consistently hit your sales goals as opposed to driving customers to hit the delete button, give me a call at 561.333.8080.  Then you will have something to REALLY get excited about!”  I hope that Sara and YOU get the message.