Today so many physicians are not able to see pharmaceutical representatives (PRs). However, PRs do serve as a great resource and finding a way to make their visits more efficient and focused is an objective we all need to strive for.
I recall requesting an interview with Lou Holtz, then the head coach at Notre Dame, and was told by his secretary the date and time that the interview would take place. Before the secretary concluded our conversation, she told me that Coach Holtz would allow 10 minutes for the interview. Ten minutes to interview one of the most famous coaches of all that time? How could I possibly do this in such a short time?
I called several friends in the media and asked how to accomplish the interview in just 10 minutes. They suggested that I submit the questions I wanted to ask Coach Holtz so he might think about his answers before the call and that I would be able to focus on recording the answers. I sent five questions and called at the designated time, and he answered the questions in 9 minutes! I asked if he wanted to see the article before I submitted it to the publisher and he said, “No, Neil, that won’t be necessary; I know you will do a good job!” At exactly 10 minutes after initiating the call, he hung up. Mission accomplished.
The same technique can be used with pharmaceutical representatives. When a representative comes to the office and asks to see the doctor, they are given a note that I can meet with them but ask them to complete a form listing the three issues or details they would like to discuss and the form asks if they can accomplish this in 7.5 minutes. (I like to provide an odd number so they know I will be checking my watch.) I also have an hourglass that I flip over just to remind them that they are “on the clock” or “in the sand.” As a trade off to the PR, I will make every effort to see them on time.
This technique focuses the PR to answer only the topics that they have placed on the form and encourages them to be succinct and brief with their visit. If you are a physician who has a time issue because you are seeing more patients, then try this technique, and you will find that you will still be able to see PR without a significant detriment to your schedule.
Neil Baum is a urologist and author of Marketing Your Clinical Practices: Ethically, Effectively, Economically. He can be reached at his self-titled site, Neil Baum, MD, or on Facebook and Twitter.
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