BEST PRACTICES: HOW TO MAKE THE BEST FIRST IMPRESSION ON YOUR DOCTORS
By Dorothy Leeds and Sharyn Kolberg
There’s an old saying that goes, “You never get a second chance to make a first impression.” It may be a cliché, but it’s one that definitely applies to pharmaceutical reps. The first time you meet a doctor, you lay the foundation for a relationship for a long-term relationship; therefore, you want that first meeting to be as positive as possible. The first impression you make affects every subsequent visit. It’s difficult to “undo” a negative first impression. While it’s always possible to change someone’s mind about you, it’s much easier to establish a solid relationship right from the start.
There are many situations where you are in a position to meet a new doctor and make a first impression. For instance:
Most doctors we spoke to – and we polled almost fifty doctors for this article – agreed that they are willing to give a new rep (someone they have not met before) more time at their first meeting. It’s up to you to take advantage of this opportunity to make the strongest impression possible.
The Secret to Building Relationships:
Remember Sally Fields’ Academy Award acceptance speech? “You like me. You really like me!” she said. That’s many reps hope to say after their first meeting with the doctor. They think that being liked is the key to making sales and building relationships.
Being liked is, needless to say, important. But it is not the most important aspect to building strong relationships. Nor is it the reason that most people (including doctors) make their buying decisions. The truth is, according to another old saying: People buy from people they like, trust, and respect.
People may agree to see you or speak with you because of the company or product you represent, but in the end they buy because of who you are and how you treat them. They’ll do business with you if:
These three factors work together to give you an edge. Many salespeople in Dorothy’s workshop admit that they have strong affiliation needs – in other words, they like to be liked. Salespeople also tell Dorothy that doctors complain to them about those “tough” reps who are incredibly persistent. And yet those “tough” reps get a large share of the doctors’ business. Why? Doctors respect them because are doing their job—selling.
Doctors won’t prescribe your drugs based solely on the fact that they like you; they prescribe your drugs because they like you and they trust and respect you. Trust and respect are much more important. You have to prove yourself worthy at that very first visit.
Take a Lesson From the Boy Scouts: Be Prepared
Since becoming a successful salesperson depends on earning the trust and respect of your doctors, this is a process that must be continually practiced. You’re not only selling your product, you’re selling yourself.
You begin selling yourself even before you ever get in to see the doctor. The impressions you make depend greatly on your preparation for your first meeting. There’s a wealth of information you can collect from the nurses, receptionist, or office manager. If you establish good relationships with the support staff first, you stand a much better chance of establishing a good relationship with the doctor.
And, if you get as much information from the staff people as possible, you increase your chances even more. The way to really shine at your first meeting is to be prepared before you get there. Here’s a good rule to go by: Never ask the doctor anything you could learn by asking someone else.
Here are some questions you might want to ask the staff before you schedule an appointment to see the physician:
Your goal is not only to make a good impression on the doctor, but also to make a positive impression on everyone in the office. You want to be someone who is always welcome in the office. If you have strong affiliation needs, use them on the office staff. Get the doctor to trust and respect you, and let the office staff love you.
“The Doctor Will See You Now”
Once you’ve established a relationship with the staff, it’s time to see the doctor. What is your goal for that first meeting? You want to establish yourself in the doctor’s mind as being credible, knowledgeable, and interesting And you want to let the doctor know that you are different, that you are better prepared than your competition, and that you are worthy of respect and trust. You are there to do your job and you want to show it in the most helpful, professional, interesting way that you can.
After you briefly introduce yourself, there are questions to ask the doctor:
At the first meeting, the doctor might want to know some information about you. Let the doctor know something about you, something that will make you stand out from all the other reps that come into the office. If your doctor loves golf, and you just played at Saint Andrews in Scotland, don’t be shy about sharing your experiences.
Put Your Best Foot Forward!
Here are five helpful hints to make a powerful first impression:
The Best Advice of All? Be Yourself
You can’t make a good impression trying to be someone you’re not. Even if you do, you won’t be able to sustain a persona that is uncomfortable for you. Be yourself and be enthusiastic, and establish a relationship based on sincere communication between you and the doctor.
The most important points to remember about making a good impression are:
Follow this advice, and not only will you feel competent and confident, your first visit will be the start of a great relationship. Treat every first visit as a very special occasion and you’ll establish a rapport that is strong, long-lasting, and profitable.
Copyright © 2006 Dorothy Leeds Organizational Technologies