Ask a Medical Sales Manager: ABC’s of Field Travel and Training (Part 1 of 3)

Are you a seeker?

When managers travel with new medical sales reps, their focus is not just on what they know.  They’re trying to help identify what you need to be successful and point you in that direction, and evaluating how you take charge on your own of pursuing the information and the resources you need to be successful.

In other words, they want to know if you are you a seeker.  Do you have the info I need? Do you know who might be able to help?  How do you take steps to resolve issues or needs?  Sometimes it’s a complex customer problem, but sometimes it’s as simple as:  How do I get my car fixed?  How often can I get it washed?  Am I allowed to take customer to lunch?  How do I sign up for direct deposit?  How do I buy a plane ticket for a customer?

Being a “seeker” is one of the key attributes that is always present in winners.

If you’re not a seeker, it shows up like this:  When you’re questioned about your actions, it is someone else’s fault:  “Why is your car so dirty?”  You answer:  “No one told me how often we could get it washed.”  A seeker would have asked.

One of my favorite dirty car stories:

Our organization had just gone through the J.M.O. (Junior Military Officer) phase and hired a training class full of JMO’s.  The new hires went through 90 days of in-house training and were sent to their territories.  The sales trainer then field traveled with them in their territory.  One new hire was an ex-Army helicopter pilot and a really pleasant guy.

He shows up at the airport to pick up the trainer (who flew from Boston to the Northwest to travel with this guy) and sees him at the curb.  We’ll call the trainer Bob.  Bob sees the newbie, waves and heads for the car.  He opens the door, sticks his head in the guy’s car and says:  “Take this car and have it washed and the interior cleaned and then come pick me up.  I’ll stay here and make calls.

Ninety minutes later the newbie is back at the airport and picks up Bob.  Bob gets in the car and tells the newbie, “If you ever have your car that filthy again when someone from the organization comes to travel with you, it could mean losing your job.  It goes without saying that you should never have a customer in a car that filthy.”

The newbie was rattled, but tried to pull it together for the rest of field travel.

What is the end of the story?  The trainer reported that the newbie would struggle and was ill-suited to a selling role.  The manager said she didn’t sense that the newbie was pursuing (doesn’t that mean the same as seeking?) the info and resources he needed.  He seemed to be in a bit of paralysis.

Well, this newbie resigned about 60 days later.  When he resigned, he told his manager, “Everyday out there is like a war”. “Out there” was defined as selling in his territory for an internationally known diagnostic company! Really nice guy that had been very successful in the Army, but just wasn’t right for sales.  He was not a seeker!

A seeker understands that the end responsibility to acquire/identify information, resources or services he/she needs to be successful is theirs.  They understand that if they are unsuccessful in the efforts to acquire that information or resource, they are ultimately responsible for the outcome.  They apply that same logic to sales success in the field and they are focused on eliminating barriers to success.  Not just identifying them and whining about them.  Eliminating them.  When the task/what needs to occur are beyond their position, they sell their manager on the concept and then solicit support from management.  They actively seek the resources they need.

The “seeker” attitude that’s going to help you be successful as a medical sales rep is also what’s going to help you land a job in medical sales in the first place:  You have to be aggressive and go after the things that you need to succeed.  You solicit support, you tap resources, and you focus on identifying and eliminating the barriers in the way of your goal.

–Kraig McKee, Senior Recruiter, PHC Consulting

Written by Peggy McKee - the medical sales recruiter
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