So what’s the secret formula?

April 7, 2011

April 7, 2011

I spend a fair amount of time talking about customer value.  It’s paramount to the success of any endeavor but especially critical in the pharmaceutical industry.  The challenge is finding ways to bring value in a regulated industry and with dwindling access.  On the sales side, performance is paramount and often a product “detail” becomes the focus of interaction rather than providers and patients.

A while ago, I was in the field with a representative, KM.  As she stood by the reception desk making an appointment three months out, I noticed another representative standing in the hallway interacting with the physician.  Later in the day, the same exact scenario presented itself with the very same “other” representative.  I asked the receptionist who the rep was and she said, “Howie.”  It was readily apparent that Howie enjoyed preferential status in this office, probably in most of his territory as well.  When I asked her what was so special about Howie, she said, “he really knows his stuff.”

You probably get the point.  KM felt her territory had a lot of hard-to-see physicians and significant access challenges.  Howie and I would disagree.  I never heard Howie’s interactions but my observations of his interactions, body language, relaxed facial expressions, conversation, and his access spoke quite clearly.  KM made appointments, detailed her products and “closed for the business” while Howie positioned himself as a reliable resource and got the business.

Attaining “Howie” status takes time and effort but probably not as much as you would think.  Knowing your “stuff” doesn’t necessarily require hours of study but it certainly doesn’t come from reading People Magazine in the waiting room either.  Something as simple as productive use of downtime to review studies and PIs is highly effective.  But most importantly, the focus of the call must be the customer and patient, not market share.  “Howie” status comes with a conscious effort to be the best.  It delivers results and also offers a profound sense of self-satisfaction at day’s end.

Just a thought in the spirit of “Building Expertise, Delivering Results.”

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How Much Is Enough?

February 24, 2011

How many times a week should a representative call on a physician?  The obvious answer is “it depends” but here’s one scenario – once or twice a week for a busy office with reasonable access and friendly staff, not necessarily in that order.  Higher frequency may be a good answer here but it should prompt the questions, “Why?” and “How much is enough?”

You can visit an office as often as you like until the customer or the company dictates otherwise.  But the right answer circles back to the value proposition.  Why do once “friendly” offices stop doing lunches or even close their doors to industry; rep overabundance along with it’s time and economic implications, waiting room perception, and virtually extinct “down time” that was once devoted to sales reps, are a few reasons perhaps.

In a response to last week’s blog, Leslie Rainey made a great point: “Am I really a customer servant?  Most of the time, we want them to serve us.”  This is not necessarily a matter of arrogance but about where we place the focus of our interaction.  Is it about our pre-call plan, our “detail”, our market share, our symbolic productive questions, or is it about earning the right to occupy valuable time and command elusive attention.

So how exactly do we bring our customers that which they truly appreciate and value?  It is possible.  Just ask Howie.  This is a real world example that has impressed me for well for over 20 years now.  I’ll talk about Howie in detail next time for the third and final installment on the Value Proposition.  In the meantime, how do you create value and maintain your access, while you still have it?

Just a thought in the spirit of Building Expertise, Delivering Results.

What is my value proposition?

February 14, 2011

Pharmaceutical industry professionals have traditionally prided themselves on their value to health care providers.  Today, the industry seems to be associated with dwindling access and marketing practices as much as the value of its people, products and services.  If so, we need to ask why this perception has changed.

Perhaps the question is best answered by asking another.  “How many health care providers would continue to see you if you no longer provided lunch or samples?”  It is not an impossible scenario and your answer obviously depends on a number of factors.  But if your value is perceived as pizza and trial sizes, your answer may be startling.

Your answer quite frankly speaks to your perceived value and it’s significance lies in how you compare to your company peers as well as your competition.  Hopefully, it provides an insightful “mirror moment” and offers opportunities to preserve, revise or enhance your value proposition.

Just a thought in the spirit of our mission, “Building Expertise, Delivering Results.”