Get Out of Your Comfort Zone: Rethink Your Field Strategy

By: Susan Boydell

[box] “Live begins at the end of your comfort zone.” – Neale Donald Walsch [/box]

For all of us who have been doing physician relations field work for a while (it’s good for the newbies too) routineness is a reality! In spite of all the pressure to produce results, we tend to fall into a pattern of doing what we’ve always done. This is the year to rethink our field approach and move out of our comfort zone. What worked in the past might still work but is it still going to get the best results?

Here are five areas to consider as you look closer at your physician conversations. Think about what you might want to change in the year ahead and challenge yourself to a new and better way.

  1. Am I asking or telling? Think about your pre-call plan (you are doing one, right?). If your objective is to “tell” the physician about a new service or a new doctor who has joined the organization, rethink that Create two to three questions you would ask to better understand if the physician you are visiting has a need for what you offer, and then think about how you would position your product based on the physicians’ response.
  2. Remove “how’s it going” from your vocabulary. “How’s it going?” doesn’t count as a good question. Sometimes it’s just a habit. Challenge yourself to replace that sentence with something more meaningful. Start your dialogue with the purpose of your visit. What do you hope to learn? Write it down and practice it before you go.
  3. Empty out your trunk. Is your trunk full of marketing materials?  If the first thing you do before every visit is open your trunk and choose marketing materials, rethink how you are using those materials.  Instead of a “leave behind,” use marketing materials as a “get back in” strategy. Determine if the materials are of true value to the physician or their office staff.  If the physician says, “What do you have for me today?” that’s a clue that they think of you as someone who drops off materials- not as their advocate or someone interested in a conversation.
  4. Dig deeper on clinical content. Sometimes when we’ve been working to grow the same services for quite some time, we need to refresh our clinical knowledge. A clue on this, do you feel like you have nothing new to say? You can address this several different ways but, it always starts with creating a good set of questions. Whether you need a specific conversation with a PCP to perhaps understand changes in treatment needs or to dig deeper with a key specialist or service line leader.
  5. Tell your story. This one is to make sure you are getting credit for the difference you make.  Rethink how you connect your activity to results through reporting. Have you been showing the same dashboard for years? Think about a different way to illustrate what you learn and do in the field. How has that impacted volume for your hospital? Augment your dashboard with some specific examples (or stories) that demonstrate the value of your role.