The cliche of the fast-talking door-to-door salesman selling vacuum cleaners has been around for decades, but snappy dialogue and schmoozing tactics won’t really cut it when it comes to today’s medical industry. Doctors and clinics deal with people’s health and well-being, and often, a medical sales professional is even considered to be a part of a surgery team as an on-hand consultant. Doctor’s aren’t going to let just anybody into that situation, and so you have to find ways to set yourself apart and stand out.

Learn how to get past the gatekeepers

You’re never going to make a sale if you aren’t able to even have a conversation with the doctor, and the doctor’s front office staff are not going to make it easy. Doctors are busy and try to spend most of their time focusing on patient care. To prevent unnecessary distractions, they usually will have their office staff screen calls, mail, and email.

In order to get past these gatekeepers, you have to prove that you’re more than just a distraction. You have to prove that you are offering something of value to the clinic, and a blatant sales pitch just won’t do the job anymore. This requires research, finding out the common issues medical practices face that are related to your product or service. Rather than sending a letter that generically offers a product that is faster/better/cheaper, which doctors have been hearing since the day they earned their medical degree, offer some applicable knowledge.

If you are offering medical transcription equipment, don’t just push the product. Demonstrate that you are familiar with the space. Offer tips on how to make medical dictation easier to manage. Suggest ways to solve problems even outside of the product’s parameters.

Establish yourself as someone who knows what they’re talking about instead of some pushy salesperson trying to unload a product. This goes beyond simply knowing how to present your product. Part of the job is selling yourself. PatientPop advises anyone in the medical profession to follow these four guidelines:

  • Don't stand over the person you are communicating with
  • Avoid slouching
  • Keep eye contact
  • Remember to smile

Whatever you do, though, do not disregard or talk down to these gatekeepers. Don’t act as though they aren’t worth your time and that the doctor is the only one who really matters, because that will get you shut down, and fast. We use the term “gatekeepers” for a reason—because there is a gate you have to get past, and they are the ones who hold the keys. Even if you manage to brute force your way past them and talk to the doctor, doctors trust their office personnel, and if you’ve left the staff unimpressed, they won’t hesitate to pass that information on, giving you a very poor first impression.

Don’t try to schmooze your way past them, because that will immediately set off warning bells, but pay genuine attention to them genuinely and give them the respect they deserve. You might be surprised how much it can help towards opening those doors.

Know your products and procedures inside and out

This is true in any type of sales, but when it comes to healthcare, people’s lives and well-being are on the line. These days, medical sales people are often on the floor beside the doctor during procedures. There is a good chance that you will know more about your specific product than the doctor in question, and you need to immediately be able to answer any questions the doctor has about it and offer advice.

If you don’t know what you’re talking about, the doctor will not be impressed. If a situation arises where a wrong answer could mean the difference between a successful surgery or a catastrophic failure, they want someone in the room with them who can provide accurate information immediately.

By clearly knowing the steps of the procedure, you can help the scrub nurse prepare for the next step, meaning the surgery will be shorter and the patient will be under anesthesia for a shorter period of time. By knowing the ins and outs of your product, you will be able to offer advice to the surgeon in the moment. Rather than just a person trying to make a quick buck, set yourself apart as a resource to the surgeon..

Keep learning and be curious

Beyond just knowing everything about the product you are selling, keep building that knowledge base. Ask questions about things you don’t understand. The more you know, the more you will be an asset to the doctor. More directly tied to sales, you may suddenly be required to learn more if a new product is released or a new development comes along in the field. It’s always wise to give yourself a head start. Not only that, asking questions can help you to build a more solid relationship with the doctor.

Build relationships with practices and individual medical professionals

In the end, the practices and medical professionals who have learned to trust you are the ones who are going to give you their business. Establish strong relationships with these professionals, and then spend the time and effort to grow those relationships. Familiarize yourself with the doctor’s field of study, reading their medical writings and engaging them in conversations. Engage them in conversations related to their field, and even outside of the medical area. Don’t pry too deeply into their personal lives, but show a genuine interest in them.

If you come into the office like a door-to-door salesman trying to sell a product, then they’ll see you as a salesman and happily show you the door. If you build a relationship of trust with them, however, they’ll see you as someone who can bring value to them and all sorts of doors will open.