Medical sales training is frequently placed at the bottom of the priority list for healthcare sales representatives. After all, many people who work in medical sales have previous sales experience. Isn’t sales just sales? Read more about is Medical Sales Training is Necessary or Nice.
Medical Sales Training – Necessary or Nice?
Many people believe that selling is intuitive and, in theory, simple. Simply display your products, deliver features and benefits, and solicit business. After the sale, provide customer service. It’s not too difficult.
The concept is straightforward. At best, it’s a recipe for less than mediocrity. At worst, it’s a simple failure strategy.
Medical sales is easy…to fail at without comprehensive medical sales training! Over the last 30+ years, I’ve seen countless examples of clinical personnel who moved into medical sales, only to return to clinical work a year or two later. Why? Because they weren’t able to cut it. These were individuals with extensive clinical knowledge. One would think that a high level of clinical expertise would provide a competitive advantage (just as the people I’m referring to did). In reality, it frequently provides a false sense of competence, if not complacency.
Is clinical knowledge necessary? Yes, but only to a point. Furthermore, there is only one knowledge area required to succeed, and I will argue that it is not the most important.
A Difficult Sales Environment
I like to draw parallels between healthcare and aviation. For starters, both industries are highly regulated and complex. Second, success in either field necessitates competence.
Flight training is really medical sales training.
knowledge in a variety of fields
Assume you want to be a pilot. What do you think you need to know intuitively to become a pilot? “You need to know how to fly a plane,” most people say.
Isn’t that common sense? You should be able to manipulate the controls, perform take-offs and landings, operate the radios, and do other cool stuff. So the answer is correct. You must be able to fly a plane.
However, it is only partially correct. There is so much more to discover.
A pilot must learn meteorology, navigation, federal air regulations, flight planning, communications, instrument flying, aircraft systems, emergency procedures, regulatory compliance, and other subjects. Deficiencies in any of these areas will not only disqualify you from flying, but they may also result in your death!
Why is such a high level of competence required in aviation? Because there is so much at stake. You must do everything possible to reduce risk and ensure a successful outcome.
To ensure competency, pilots must complete a comprehensive curriculum of initial flight training. But that is insufficient. Pilots’ skills deteriorate because they are human. They form bad habits. That is why pilots must re-certify or undergo recurrent training at regular intervals.
I could draw parallels for clinicians in the healthcare industry, but let’s stick to medical sales and what proper medical sales training provides.
The Three Essential Competencies for Medical Sales Success
Are there only three skills required to succeed in medical sales? No, there are numerous others. But first, let’s look at the big three. These are the three broad categories in which one must be truly competent if one hopes to achieve long-term success.
- Relationship abilities
- Technical Knowledge and Skills
- Medical Sales Ability
When sales reps achieve a level of competency in all three, they become what I call The Triple Threat. I can tell you that there aren’t many triple threats. There are also various ways to increase sales. For example, Fertiltree invested in SEO to increase sales.
Relationship abilities. Everyone understands the value of relationships. Again, this seems fairly obvious, doesn’t it?
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Most sales representatives I speak with describe relationships as getting along with customers, being liked, knowing and trusting one another. Once again, intuitive and accurate. But so much is omitted.
How do you build and maintain relationships with the healthcare stakeholders to whom you sell? It’s not as simple as bringing lunch to a doctor’s office, taking a customer out for a round of golf, or taking a customer out to dinner. In fact, with industry-wide compliance issues, it can’t be just those things!
So, what is the foundation of highly effective relationships in medical sales? Simple. It is about the medical sales representative’s ability to be regarded as a key player in assisting clinicians and healthcare institutions in providing health care while meeting mandates and goals. In other words, customers whose problems you solve will have better relationships with you to facilitate sales than customers who you make unhealthy with free food.
I like you if you feed me. I adore you for making my professional life easier, better, and more rewarding! And when I get to know you, trust you, and rely on you over time, that relationship becomes rock solid, at least from a business standpoint, and that’s what really matters.
Even something as seemingly simple as relationships is not purely intuitive in medical sales. It necessitates an in-depth understanding of the customer’s world and how to improve their situation. The concept is simple, but it is not easy.
Great medical sales training teaches you how to build relationships with key stakeholders. Unfortunately, very few businesses include this skill set in their training programmes.
Technical Knowledge and Skills
Competence is required rather than expertise. You must be well-versed in your products. You must be able to assist customers in using your products for the conditions and situations that they were designed and approved for. Understand how to troubleshoot and resolve product issues. A solid understanding of the specialty or specialties to which you sell is also required.
This is where most companies concentrate their efforts during product training, and to be honest, they do a good job. Deficiencies arise in the following category, which is…
Medical Sales Ability
Why do I say “medical” selling skills rather than “selling skills”? Is there a distinction?
You most likely assumed that the answer was yes, but it is “hell yes!”
Selling to the healthcare industry is unlike selling to any other industry. Sure, there are parallels and similarities. Many of the fundamentals are the same. What differs is how buyers perceive things.
When selling to healthcare clinicians, for example, you’re dealing with some of the most educated, well-trained, and self-assured individuals in the workforce. To get their attention, let alone influence their thinking, very specific skills are required.
You’re also selling to people who take charge of other people’s lives. HCPs strive to limit trial-and-error when treating patients. Your prospects and customers want to avoid the risk of trying new products. This is constantly working against you. When you combine that with the Affordable Care Act and increased accountability for everyone involved, the sale process becomes palpably complex. The tried-and-true sales strategy of showing up and throwing up is no longer effective.
Medical sales representatives frequently overestimate their sales abilities.
That’s what I meant. Because it is correct. During my medical sales training seminars, I’ll discuss how sales representatives evaluate their skills and abilities. Most are extremely confident in their ability to sell and influence a sale. The reality is frequently very different—easy to fix, but different.
I frequently give a medical sales training workshop on selling skills before, after, or in addition to product training. Reps will perform extremely well on product knowledge tests following product training. They fold when I put them in realistic, high-pressure role-playing situations. Instead of allowing their training to take over, they data-dump and rely on survival instincts.
Excellent medical sales training ensures that medical sales representatives are capable of integrating
Product knowledge is integrated into a sales process that is backed up by a competent skill set.
To return to the original question, do you require medical sales training?
The answer, hopefully, is obvious: Only if you want to maximise your sales and career results.
Pilots train to ensure that every flight is a success.
Pro athletes train on a regular basis to improve their game performance.
Medical sales professionals can earn a professional-level salary if they perform at a professional level. Commitment and comprehensive medical sales training are the only ways this can happen in the short or long term.