Medical sales – ask for commitments if you want to win

Medical sales - getting a commitment

Asking for a commitment that moves the sales process forward – too often it’s the forgotten last step in a sales call.  Unfortunately, it’s also a critical one.

How often have we been in a sales call where the physician nods in agreement and we leave the call thinking it’s been successful?  But, you quickly learn otherwise.  The physician doesn’t support moving to your product, doesn’t support a clinical evaluation, doesn’t use your device for the “next four cases” or perhaps just doesn’t do what you thought they would – like talking with a colleague about your solution.

Research shows that in complex sales, the seller needs to “close” for a commitment from the buyer on every call.   The commitment varies on a number of factors including where you are in the sales cycle and the buyer’s position.  Some examples would be a commitment to introduce you to someone once else in the hospital or within a practice or a commitment to support you in an upcoming meeting.

This is true in all sales environments – but because of the highly competitive environment it is particularly important for sales people in medical sales. Think about this … a medical sales rep walks out of what they think was a great sales call with a doc.  But – the medical sales rep may or may not get traction in the sales process, even though the call went well, unless there is a commitment that moves the sales process forward.

Simply, unless you can get any person – including physicians – to make a commitment it’s unlikely they will follow up and take any action.  So the next time you meet with them nothing has happened in the interim.  That is not how to win in a competitive sale.

This means that when doing pre-call planning, no medical sales person should omit the final step for the plan – the commitment you want from the buyer to move the sales process forward.

And, when you do pre-call planning – think about commitments creatively … for example, have multiple commitments in mind for the call – what if it goes as planned, or if it goes extraordinarily well, or if perhaps not as well as you hoped.  You need different levels of commitment to propose to the physician based on how the call went.

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About Janet Spirer

For more than 30 years Dr. Richard Ruff and Dr. Janet Spirer - the founders of Sales Horizons - have worked with the Fortune 1000 - such as UPS, Canon USA, Smith & Nephew, Boston Scientific, Owens & Minor, Textron - to design and develop sales training programs. Janet has followed two different, yet complimentary paths. First, as a B-School Professor she taught marketing, sales, and business strategy courses. She also managed a consulting practice focusing on sales productivity and marketing – working with a variety of clients ranging from Xerox to IBM. She translated those experiences into a book – “Parlez-Vous Business” – that helps sales people develop the business savvy to sell successfully. Since co-founding Sales Momentum® in 2000 with Richard Dr. Spirer received her Ph.D. from The Ohio State University, an M.P.A. from The University of Texas at Austin, and a B.A. in Economics from Brooklyn College. She holds the appointment of Professor Emeritus at Marymount University.
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