Stretching Our Sales Skills with Doctors

By: Allison McCarthy, MBA

[box]The AffinityMonitor study proves that, even though doctors are unbelievably busy, they want and need information from us.[/box]

The pace of life for physicians today makes it increasingly harder to “sell” to them – whether that means recruiting them into a new practice, changing their referral patterns or simply getting them to a meeting or event.  Persuading doctors to “buy” into whatever we’re “selling” is often the top challenge.

Today, many business development, marketing, physician recruitment and relations professionals are looking for that “one thing” that will get physicians to say yes. But, no, there isn’t just one thing.  To get to the right response you have to use multiple strategies, often all at once.

Use Multiple Channels – Just like us, doctors, have communication preferences.  Some would like to hear from you in-person.  Others would rather receive an email or text message.  And, some don’t want to connect at all, no matter how you reach out.  Any time you have to sell to physicians, you need a multi-pronged strategy that tests different communication vehicles against different groups of physicians to see who you can connect with best.

A recent study by AffinityMonitor, done for the pharmaceutical and medical device industries, demonstrated that in-person is still the best way to sell to physicians.  Digital push came in second and digital pull came in third.  Because you never know what one physician might prefer over another, winning strategies include several approaches working simultaneously.

Quickly Build Credibility – Doctors are smart people and they quickly weed out those who aren’t providing value.  They use “top-down” logic, determining, from a few early signals, whether or not they will benefit from additional information.  They are trained to be skeptical and want evidence to make a decision on their time-investment.

Preparation is key to having a successful conversation with a physician.  Know your offer inside and out, and pay careful attention to the specific aspects that will be important to each physician type.   Whether you’re selling in-person, by telephone or in writing, present the value right up front.  Be prepared to answer their questions with relevant facts, scenarios or observations.  Again, focus on those things that will be most important to them, given who they are, how they practice and the type of care they provide.  To gain their trust and attention, you have to establish your credibility quickly.

Be Self-Aware – I know what you’re thinking: “Doctors need lessons in self-awareness, not us.”  But behavior is reflective; the more you respect their time and the consequences of the interruption, the more respect they’ll show you.  So, be clear and concise.  If you tend to ramble, script a message that’s short and sweet.  If you tend to be chatty or off-topic, force yourself to ask good questions and listen carefully. Ask them how they prefer to communicate and follow it – even though it might not be the most ideal method for you.

The AffinityMonitor study proves that, even though doctors are unbelievably busy, they want and need information from us.  To deliver it successfully, you need to use a variety of channels, be respectful and craft a clear message with an upfront benefit. Earning the right to address and continue a conversation with a doctor can be challenging, but there is a high return on that effort if successful.

Communicating with physicians can be very rewarding but also very challenging! To learn more about our services around communicating with physicians reach out to Allison at amccarthy@barlowmccarthy.com.