Have you ever been so frustrated at your failed efforts to get a particularly reclusive doctor’s undivided attention that you fantasized about airlifting the two of you directly to a deserted island away from the distractions of patients, nurses, administrative staff, phones, pagers, fire alarms and, perhaps, other drug reps? Well, since an airlift solution probably is unworkable on a number of levels, you might try to speak with targeted physicians at venues away from the office. In a recent article for Pharmaceutical Representative Magazine, sales expert and author Dorothy Leeds offered suggestions for maximizing your time with physicians at likely gathering spots.
Dinner meetings. At a dinner meeting your goal should not be to detail the doctor. Instead your goal should be to leverage the opportunity to get more face time later. Say something such as: I know you’re busy and I want to take as little of your time as possible when I’m in the office. I’d appreciate your help in sharing with me what I might do to most effectively help you with your patients and practice. Ask what you need to do to get more time and then move on. Speak to as many physicians as possible, not just the ones who are particularly receptive.
Speakers bureau meetings. These events can be hectic, but they offer opportunities for brief conversations. Start with the opening night cocktail party. Don’t just hang around with other drug reps, even if that’s your inclination. Get yourself out there meeting people, particularly physicians. Feel them out about how receptive they might be to meeting with you at a later date. Also, after each presentation note the questions the individual doctors ask the speakers. This will clue you in to their hot button issues. When you call on them, ask about their insights on the meeting and the speakers and then use the topics as a starting point to offer assistance.
One-on-one dinners. These can be the most uncomfortable encounters with doctors for many reps. How much time do you spend building rapport and chitchatting before getting down to business? A good rule of thumb is that a quarter of your time should be strictly professional, but the other time may be significant for getting a feel for how the doc thinks and makes decisions. Leeds suggests conversational questions such as: How did you choose which medical school to attend? How did you settle on that specialty? Would you choose the same field today? What’s the most difficult part of your job? This last question can help you segue into finding out how the doc feels about pharmaceutical reps and what you can do to make your time together more productive.