By DJ Edgerton
Yes, your sales force is shrinking. It has been for a while now. It’s a scary idea – with fewer interactions with doctors, you worry, how can you succeed?
We have some thoughts. We’ll give you the short version first.
Simply. Smarter, not harder. Leaner, not bigger. And optimistically.
You’re probably rolling your eyes and thinking that’s a little trite. So let us explain.
Think about what you have going for you. Remember that you are no longer forced to deal with a sales force who can only check their messages after a long day on the road, who feel mostly disconnected from their leadership, both geographically and technologically, and whose connection to results feels intangible and not immediate. Remember also that you are no longer dealing with a sales force and a target list who are both trained to deal in costly kickbacks but who can now focus on the data.
Phrases like “sales force automation” and “customer relationship management” have been embedded in your brain for decades, but when was the last time you stopped and looked at everything in your organization from scratch? You’re probably using at least one set of outdated processes. (Probably a lot more than one, if you’re honest.)
Start with sales training. Think about the sales calls themselves. Consider team-building and deciling and in-field training and POA meetings. Look at every step and question everything, from scheduling to sessions to follow-up materials. See each action as if for the first time. Don’t assume you have to continue doing things the way they’ve been done. What can you do faster, smarter, cheaper – and most important, more effectively? Here are a few questions to kick-start your process:
* Med-school students have iPhone apps to choose from to help them learn. Why not your sales force?
* What are you storing on servers and making people download that could be done faster and cheaper with cloud computing?
* Does it make sense to hire a tech-savvy person to help you figure out what you need and tweak an existing product to your needs?
* Who are the youngest and newest people to your organization? Can you get them in a room for a brainstorm and let them go?
Most important of all:
* Can you remember that your sales force and your target list are not those things?
They are people. People who want to learn, connect, and go home to their kids at night and feel like they did something good that day.
* How are you enabling your sales representatives to have those experiences, and how are you enabling them to help their physicians have that experience?