Opening The Gates, Part II

By Malcolm Fleschner

Last month’s edition of the Pharmaceutical Sales newsletter included insights from Jean Male, CEO of Emp-Higher Performance Development Inc. (, a New Jersey-based sales performance consulting and training company, about how drug reps often get themselves into trouble in physicians’ offices by taking an adversarial approach to the administrative staff. This month Male identifies the unique traits top pharmaceutical sales reps use to their advantage to turn potential administrative roadblocks into valuable allies.

The first thing the best sales reps do, Male explains, is show genuine interest in the people they deal with. “Top performers are emotionally intelligent and able to truly connect with others to progress from rapport to relationship,” she says. “When all other things are equal, people want to buy from and work with those they know, like, trust and respect. If staffers don’t know you by name, you’re not even at the rapport end of the relationship spectrum. To give office administrators a reason to learn and remember your name, it is vital that you take the time to show genuine interest in them. The most fundamental and powerful reps use individuals’names, smiling and taking good call notes to show that interest.”

Male adds that the top reps she’s witnessed combine this genuine interest with business acumen to create a foundation of empathy that people respond to. “These stellar performers also understand their customers’ business drivers. They understand what their products or services can do to make the practice, staff and patients more successful. This combination of business acumen and emotional intelligence creates empathy and insight into the minds, hearts, shoes and wallets of all customer stakeholders. Ask yourself: What can you and your products and services do to make their jobs easier or more enjoyable? If they see too many reps will they have to work overtime? Will they be paid? Do they have children to pick up? If they’re late, will they incur a childcare penalty?”

The final piece to the puzzle, Male says, lies in effectively handling the universal sales challenge – time management. “The bad news is that with 90,000 to 100,000 biopharma reps storming offices daily, it takes time and work to become a familiar face, gain differentiation and earn access,” she notes. “The good news is many reps don’t take the time or lose interest or patience after a few calls. Others simply are not memorable enough to become a familiar face regardless of the number of times they call on the office. Then there are those who are memorable, but remembered for a negative reason. The right skill and mind set combined with a committed focus over time opens gates. It may sound Pollyanna, but you can be sure those who are gaining access want it badly enough to do the work.”