Medical sales – the power of selling with clinical data

Seling with Clinical Data

Seling with Clinical Data

Physicians – and other prescribers – report that clinical data is increasingly important in making decisions. So, as one “moves to the other side of the table,” selling with clinical is not a “nice to learn” but instead one of those “must dos.”

Sometimes clinical data is not available. But even when it is, too many salespeople do not optimize its use during interactions with medical staff. So let’s take a look at some ideas that might help.

An overarching principle.  At a foundational level it is important to distinguish between “selling with clinical data” and “presenting clinical data.”  The former is likely to have a greater impact.

The two approaches are substantially different.

  • The selling with clinical data approach involves the sales rep customizing the integration of the key information from the study to each physician to help differentiate the product, emphasize the benefits and alleviate possible concerns. 
  • When the alternative presenting the data approach is used, the sales rep typically just delivers a standard “pitch” about the study.  There is no attempt to relate the findings from the study to the specific needs and concerns of the physician in question.

The caution is, as one might suspect, selling with clinical data requires a greater understanding of the study and more effort in the pre-call planning.  No surprises here.

Common traps.  Let’s examine three common traps that get in the way of executing the selling with clinical data approach.

  • Failure to really understand the study.  Using clinical data in a more compelling fashion requires a more comprehensive understanding of how the study was designed and executed so the data can be interpreted in greater depth and with greater clarity.  Some examples: knowing possible misinterpretations, understanding cross tab information by parameters such as age and gender, understanding fundamental statistics like levels of significance and confidence intervals and if a drug study, understanding the findings in regard to interactions with other drugs.
  • Not sharing study findings in a sequence that is easy for physicians to process. You have to share the information in a way that’s easy for the physician to process. It’s important to put yourself in the physician’s shoes and figure out the most effective sequence for sharing the clinical information throughout the call.  Most importantly tie back the findings to the benefits for the patient at every opportunity.
  • Not leveraging attribution.  Using words like: I, me, we, and us in relating to the findings reduces the third party value of the study.  Rather, salespeople should know about and leverage the third party conducting the research.

Sales Training.  If you are a Sales Training Director or a VP of Sales, let’s do a short quiz.  Do you buy the idea that the effective use of clinical data in sales calls is a big deal?  And if so, have you put in place a well-designed training module to help your sales reps to develop the skills to get that right?  Our experience is the answer to the first question is overwhelming “yes”– the answer to the second – not so much.

One thing is clear – selling with clinical data is becoming increasingly important. Today, prescribers are looking for objective proof of how any medical product can help solve a problem and deliver results – which means salespeople in the medical sales industry must be able to leverage the power of clinical data.  Unfortunately it is not only important but also difficult to execute effectively – so if your answer to the second question was “not really” – you might want to revisit the question.

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About Richard Ruff

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. During his career Dick has authored numerous articles related to sales effectiveness and co-authored "Managing Major Sales", a book about sales management, "Parlez-Vous Business" which helps sales people integrate the language of business into the sales process, and "Getting Partnering Right" – a research based work on the best practices for forming strategic selling alliances. Dr. Ruff received his Ph.D. in Organizational Psychology from the University of Tennessee and a B.S. from Rennsselaer Polytechnic Institute.
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