Halloween: Bobbing for Prospects

bobbing-for-applesBy: Kriss Barlow, RN, MBA

I simply love Halloween! It’s the crisp fall air, pumpkin carving, excitement of the right costumes, and the chance to be a kid again. And bobbing for apples a game that we always play at our Halloween parties. It is a great activity, but there is a bit of anxiety that comes with it.  I remember one of my best bobs. We had several adults ready to take their turn just after the kids had competed the task. The boys are fearless… could their mother have the same swift, confident approach? Or, if I did not could I still get the apple in the end. Ultimately, I did not want to be the adult without an apple. For me, it’s about being early in the bobbing process and accomplishing my task of the perfect apple without a complete plunge in the water to get it done. Competitive spirit is a good thing, right? 

Working prospects is not unlike the bob. While you would love to get in the first time you try and make it a great first visit, sometimes you get your hair wet. There was that gatekeeper, or the problems raised by the doctor that caught you off guard, or you had your sights set on finally speaking with the doctor only to end up with yet another meeting with the office manager. Barriers are part of the process and yet, we are only effective in our roles if we are able to persist and meet with the prospective physician.

Prospecting today is rugged. According to research by Ovation Sales Group, in 2007 it took an average of 3.68 cold call attempts to reach a prospect. Today it takes 8 attempts. It means that the methods that used to work may need some updating. At the onset be sure to clearly define the right audience. Time and effort should only be expended on the right prospects. That requires precision targeting and clear goals for working with that physician. Before they become a prospect, we need to have a sense of their propensity for change. Take the time to assess their current situation. Often our goal is still volume growth, sometimes it is about softening for employment. Knowing what we can earn and having a sense of how we can earn it is part of the targeting process. Some of those apples might be chained to the bottom of the bobbing bucket!

Determine your approach and your fall back strategy. Pre-call planning is more important than ever. Don’t rely on just one method to get in. Sometimes, you need to name drop, or your entry approach is to ask a question of the physician. Maybe your visit is to set the stage for bringing a specialist on a subsequent visit. With each approach, there needs to be time and attention given to the script, the questions the practice may pose and your readiness to handle barriers to access. Most reps are doing more drop-ins than appointments. Ask yourself, are there times when setting an appointment might make more sense? Do I feel a bit like a vendor? What can I do to reposition my value in the practice? And for the new prospect should I start the process off in a new way. In apple terms, if you have tried bobbing in the center of the bucket and it has led to less success than you had hoped, maybe you try for the apples along the side.

A bite is a bite. While your prospecting may not follow the most glamorous path, did you get the outcome you needed? A good meeting with solid learnings from the physician and an opportunity to advance the relationship is a good visit. Take the time to assess what went well, where the process could be improved, and what elements need to be removed from the process.

Happy Halloween and happy prospecting. Next time you launch into prospecting to get that appointment with the physician, think of it as bobbing for apples.

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