Personality Assessments such as Caliper, Disc, Gallup, HBDI and FiroB are popular tools that yield useful, consistent information for medical sales managers.
There are 2 scenarios that assessments are normally used:
- As a hiring tool in the hiring process.
- As an employee development tool for sales managers.
In the hiring process, you normally take an assessment at the very beginning of the interview process or towards the end.
An assessment that is used in the beginning is usually used to screen out people that wouldn’t fit in the job. When I say fit, maybe it is a very technical scientific job and the candidate didn’t have a science degree. The employer may be using an assessment that focuses on abstract reasoning because that is seen as a good measure of intelligence and they are trying to gauge if the candidate will be able to grasp their new technology quickly. If it is an accounting job, maybe the employer is focused more on the candidate’s ability to work by themselves with no direction.
A good manager believes “Where there is smoke, there is fire” and if the assessment comes back with more than 2 points of contention, they may think they are better off passing on you and moving on to the next candidate. They don’t want to gamble with their new hires.
It’s much less likely to keep you from getting the job if you are taking the assessment as a final step to receiving an offer—unless your assessment comes back with anti-social behavior patterns, the manager will probably move forward.
People who vociferously disagree with their results are almost always a personnel issue waiting to happen. They think they have all the skills needed for their job and they are great. The truth is that is they don’t have the needed skills and probably won’t change.
Personality assessments work similarly in terms of employee development. As a manager, sometimes you have a really good employee who wants to move to a different role. Maybe they are in a technical staff position and they would like to transition to a line sales position. You like the employee’s values and work ethic and you want to help them advance in their career, but you don’t want to set them up for failure by putting them in a job that doesn’t match their skill set.
So what happens when they take the test and it shows they don’t like to communicate with people and are introverted?
A good manager will handle it correctly by sitting down with the team member and having a conversation about the assessment and try and understand how the team member perceives and interprets the results.
The conversation should be warm and focused on the individual. As you go through the assessment with them and ask their feedback, you will start to get a picture of how that team member sees his or her self. When you start reviewing some of the needed skill sets for the new job and how their results compare to that, often the team member will see that where they want to go doesn’t utilize their strengths and it would be a really difficult transition.
What happens next? Are they doomed to stay in that role forever? No.
The manager and the team member work together to assemble a plan that will develop or supplement the areas they need to be successful. If they are poor public speakers, maybe Toastmasters is a good idea for them. If they have no clue what a day in the life of a sales rep is like, what about scheduled ride-along days in the field?
If the assessment and the review is done right, both parties leave with a better understanding of the team member and where they want to go in the organization and what skills they will need to be successful in a new role.
Your thoughts? Comments? Put them in the comment section or e-mail me at: firstname.lastname@example.org
If you have a field travel trip coming up with your boss and you’ve got your head in the game and you’ve taken care of the details that will make your boss comfortable on the trip, now you can get down to the business of how to handle the field travel plan. (See Part 1 and Part 2 of this series.)
What does a well-executed field travel plan look like?
Let’s talk about your Plan A for travel (the ideal situation you can have if you prepare properly), Plan B (the “duck plan”) and Plan C (if your day falls apart, do this).
Having your boss or someone from the corporate office field travel with you is a total positive and an opportunity for you to establish a relationship and also to distinguish yourself among your peers.
History says that people that hate, postpone, whine about, and dread field travel are losers that won’t last long. Why so harsh? Because it is the truth. If you are doing a good job, you want the recognition and attention. Why are winners so jazzed to get to go up on stage at national meetings for recognition/performance awards? It is recognition of a job well done! If you aren’t proud of what you’re doing and your performance, you want to be “on the down low”. Successful sales people are self-promoters.
The A Plan with A accounts.
What is it?
The A Plan is a well-thought-out travel plan that hits your most important accounts and is a model of planning and execution. Here’s how to do it:
- You anticipated your guest’s hotel needs.
- You have a Travel Summary (paper) in their hands when they walk off the plane. I always wanted paper so I could put the summary in my portfolio and take notes on it in my lap while I was in the account. They are also handy to help if you space on a customer’s name. At the end of the travel, you can make notes on the summary and pass it on to an assistant for a follow up note or maybe someone else in the organization for follow up on a customer’s issue.
- You had already sent an email with a brief outline of the accounts to be visited and the objectives for each call.
- You ask when they would like to be at the airport for their return and if you need to schedule any one on one time with them. Your schedule for the following day’s travel should include some time on the morning for you to chat. That time may come over a cup of coffee on the drive to your account or at a formal sit down meeting in the hotel.
- The Travel Summaries are a contained in a presentation folder that contains the following:
- Cover Page (Prepared For, Prepared By, Date, Travel Guest with name and title spelled correctly–check it twice)
- Territory Summary-Brief, concise-2-3 paragraphs.
- Account Summaries
- Contact name and title
- Role they play (Technical Buyer, Economic, User, Coach)
- Outstanding account issues or red flags
- Role you would like the visitor to play
- A screen shot from his/her hotel that shows directions and phone/fax numbers.
- Account info from your CRM program (Salesforce, Seibel etc.)
- Strategic Selling “green sheets” for the accounts you will be calling on if you use Strategic Selling.
- Maybe a page or two dedicated so some issue important to your territory, a product show, early release of a product to a thought leader in your territory, etc.
Preparing for well-executed field travel takes some time, but the rewards are worth it. Poorly planned and executed field travel is hard to escape and can haunt others’ perceptions of you in the organization and at review time with your boss.
The A Plan represents the best image or picture in your territory that you would like to present to your manager. You have confirmed appointments for all customers on the schedule and specific objectives in each call (a single call objective). If you have done all of the things outlined above, you have already projected the image of an organized, motivated individual. Anyone that has traveled or managed at all knows that stuff happens and the mark of a winner is the ability to pivot on the new information/scenario and drive forward.
Remember, you aren’t trying to “fake out” your boss. Sometimes even a poor rep can pull together excellent field travel. They know the right things to do; they just tend not to do them unless someone is around. While they may fool some people some of the time, they won’t fool their competent manager much of the time. How so? People are creatures of habit and if you are a slacker, those slacker habits show up in other ways over time. The moral of this part of the story is if you are filled with dread about traveling with anyone, you may be in the wrong role. I swear I don’t know a single high performing rep that doesn’t enjoy showing off by demonstrating their product knowledge and account control/management through field travel.
The specific person you have an appointment with in one of your largest accounts becomes unavailable—sick kid, called in to a meeting, sick themselves, emergency etc. Hopefully they have left you a message or told you when you are verbally confirming your appointment with them the day of the call. If not, don’t freak. If their assistant tells you that he/she is sorry and will have to reschedule, you may ask if he/she (the assistant) is available or if there is someone else that she had directed you to see.
No matter what the case, handle it with style and grace. Visualize the duck….smoothly gliding through the water seemingly effortlessly until you look below the surface and see it paddling like crazy. Since you are a sales professional, you have already anticipated this possibility, hence THE B PLAN Accounts. There is no one else that can see you in the account and you have 90 minutes until your next call. The B Plan in action.
The B plan is simply a backup plan for your original call plan and it can take many forms. In this scenario there are 2 immediate things that come to mind.
- Tell whoever is traveling with you that there has been a cancellation and ask if they would like to go somewhere (maybe the lobby of your next call) and chat or he/she can make calls and check emails. Now before you freak, competent managers know that a fair amount of success in sales comes from adaptability and driving forward. Even Mr. Rigid Manager will be ok with this. The fact that you don’t freak and reflex to Plan B will score points. Drive forward.
- Tell your guest that your customer cancelled and you have a maintenance call that you are going to squeeze into the schedule.
Before offering the second option mentioned above, you have surreptitiously called the account and confirmed that it is ok to stop by. This is more of a “howdy doody” call, so you will have to formulate you single call objective on the fly. Most reps have customers that like to see them and will welcome the attention. In the lab world, many customers will take great pride in offering your boss a tour of the lab.
In summary, The B Plan could be called the duck plan. Your original plan/schedule blew up. You remain calm and smooth (like the duck on top of the water) but immediately begin paddling to fill the time with productive sales calls. The big thing to focus on here is that you have already thought about an alternate plan and how to execute it if your A Plan explodes.
- My boss is in town, my schedule exploded and I was hoping we could come by and show you the new X.
- My boss is in town, my schedule exploded, you have a pulse and won’t throw things at us—will you see us?
- My boss is in town, my schedule exploded and I will buy pizza for your lab if you can see us and show us X.
Get the picture? Plan C accounts are accounts that will see you on short notice and generally like you.
The message here is planning. By investing the thought and effort into well planned field travel, there is no obstacle or circumstance that can make you look bad. You just flex from A to C if needed.
–Kraig McKee, Senior Recruiter, PHC Consulting
Listen to this conversation between two former medical sales managers Chris Norris (formerly with GE, CCS, Bayer) and Kraig McKee (formerly with Ventana Medical, Transgenomic, Bayer/Chiron) chat about what to wear to the interview and how to think about it–for both men and women:
Hear about how to buy a suit, all the details about what’s appropriate in terms of attire, jewelry, hair, and more. And get the inside scoop about what all those details tell the hiring manager about you in your job interview.
For additional information, check out this survey of what hiring managers expect you to wear in the job interview.
If you have a topic that you would like a manager’s perspective on, let us know in the comments below.
So, your boss calls and says she wants to field travel with you in two weeks. Now what?
As a medical sales rep, your boss will always be evaluating you, looking for how you handle issues and approach problems, and expecting constant improvement. During the call is when you go into action.
First, ask him/her for the dates being considered. If he/she only gives you one option, that means he/she wants to travel then, so make it happen. The only possible valid reasons to inquire if you can schedule another date are scheduled surgery, a death in your family, vacation or you being out of your territory. Their schedule is more complicated than yours most times, so they might not have much flexibility with the dates, even if they would like to.
Find out if they would like hotel suggestions from you. Before you give them a suggestion, call their assistant and ask what kind of hotels they like. Keep in mind that your manager’s needs for a hotel are kind of specific, so suggesting the cheapest isn’t always a win. They most likely aren’t going to have a car, so their hotel needs a restaurant in house or nearby and probably a decent workout room. Sometimes they need a suite-type hotel because they are interviewing or need additional work space. Choices are often determined by the company travel policy, but most are OK with mid-range hotels like Marriott Courtyards or Hampton Inns.
If you are offering hotel suggestions, do it within a couple of hours. Your boss is probably in the process of laying out her schedule for the next few weeks, so getting the info to her sooner makes it easier to finalize and confirm her plans, which might even involve trying to coordinate travel with an event or show or field travel with another rep. Respond with an email within 2 hours with the name and address of the hotel closest to you. Pasting the info from the website is a nice touch—directions, numbers etc. at your boss’s fingertips.
Show that you pay attention to detail. The hotel is probably near your house, so you stop by in the afternoon in business attire and ask to speak to the manager. Be nice and explain that your boss is coming to travel with you and you wondered if the manager of the hotel could take some special care with your boss. That can mean anything from a nicer room to a goodie basket in the room to just greeting them by name. A $10.00 Starbucks gift card and a pleasant demeanor can go a long way to enlisting the hotel manager’s help. Maybe your boss is a runner. Is there a nice health club nearby that you could get her a guest pass to?
Wait a minute, you say: Did I sign on as a host or a sales rep? Remember that you should always use the same skills internally as you externally. And the difference between good and great is only 10%. Don’t both of those apply here? Your boss is going to be helping you be successful, so why wouldn’t you want to make her life as easy as possible as it pertains to traveling with you? By doing these small things and having an awareness, doesn’t it position you as a winner? History says yes.
These same skills–asking the right questions, doing the research, going the extra mile, and making life easy for the manager who can make your life better are the same ones you need to help you get a job within medical sales. All of these skills will help you stand out as a great candidate who gets the job and a sales rep who continues to make a fantastic impression on your boss.
–Kraig McKee, Senior Recruiter, PHC Consulting
PS – Don’t miss the ABC’s of Field Travel and Training Part 1
Everyone knows what their annual goal is, but how do you calculate how much you need to close each month if you missed your goal for the first 3 months of the year? The Rule of 78 to the rescue.
The Rule of 78 is used in the diagnostic industry to calculate how much new business you need to close to hit your annual sales goal. It allows you to recalculate that increment or growth as the year unfolds.
You say, “Why do I need to recalculate, I have a sales budget that breaks down my goal by the month?”
I say “That’s great, tell me what new business you have to close for the remaining 9 months of the year if you missed your goal and didn’t sell enough in the first quarter.”
That’s why you need the Rule of 78. It allows you to calculate how much new business you need to close to hit your growth budget based on where you are at that time.
This tool is very valuable for reps formulating tactics to help them achieve their goals. It is also very helpful for managers to help reps realize that there is a point of no return, i.e., a point in the year that they cannot “catch up”, even if they get a big order. The reason being, there aren’t enough selling opportunities in the year.
Before we work through an example, consider these facts:
1) The Rule of 78 (Ro78) assumes that you maintain your base business.
2) The “increment” is the amount of new business you need to sell to add to your base business to hit your sales goal.
Base business + New Business (growth or increment) = Your sales goal for the year.
3) The Ro78 allows you to calculate in “real time”.
How much will you have to close to make up for an account that you lost in March?
Let’s look at some simple examples now:
Your sales goal for the year is $122,000 and your territory finished at $100,000 last year…so, $22,000 is your growth or increment.
The company wants you to grow your territory $22,000 larger than it was last year.
$100,000 + $22,000 = $122,000
Base Growth/increment Annual Sales Goal
$100,000-your total last year’s production.
It seems like you need to sell $10,166.67 (base +increment/growth) per month, starting in January (122,000 / 12 = $10,166.67)
That seems simple enough—but hold that thought.
This is where they get The Rule of 78.
The numbers to the right represent the number of selling opportunities in a year. You start in January with 12; February has 11, March 10 etc.
That equals 78 selling opportunities.
Now to the fun part.
It is the end of March and you have only sold $2,000 and you should have sold $30,499.98. ($122,000/12=$10,166.67 per month. $10,166.67x 3 = $30,499.98)
Tell me how much new business you need to close every month for the rest of the year to achieve your sales goal?
First, I need to calculate how many selling opportunities I have left in the year.
78 Total Selling Opportunities in a full year
-33 (Selling opportunities lost-Jan-12, Feb-11, March-10=33)
45 Remaining selling opportunities
Your annual growth budget divided by the remaining selling opportunities equals the new increment or growth that you need to sell each month for the remainder of the year.
$22,000(annual sales growth goal)-$2,000(your actual sales for that period) / 45 = $444.44
Since you sold only $2,000 in January, February and March, your increment/growth went from $282.05 per month (total growth goal for the year / 78) to $444.44. That means that you can still hit your annual sales goal if you maintain your base business and add $444.44 of new business each month for the remainder of the year.
Try one yourself:
Use the same annual sales growth goal of $22,000.
You sold $8,000 worth of new business by June.
How much new business (while maintaining your base) do you need each month to hit your annual sales growth goal of $22,000?
1) Calculate the selling opportunities left in the year after June.
2) Subtract the new business that you have done through June from your annual sales growth goal ($22,000-$8,000=$14,000) to derive the amount of new business you need to add each month for the last six months of the year ($14,000).
3) Divide $14,000 by the remaining selling opportunities (21) to get your new growth/increment-$666.66.
What does the $666.66 represent in this example?
That represents the amount of new business you need to add each month, beginning in July to hit your annual sales goal of $122,000 while maintaining your base business.
It assumes that you sold $8,000 through June, when you needed to sell $11,000 to be on track to hit your annual growth budget of $22,000.
So, if you maintain your base business and add $666.66 of new business per month beginning in July, you will hit your annual sales goal. Did you notice that your increment more than doubled because you missed you goal for the first six months of the year?
This example is a little misleading, because technically, the rep could close a big order in December and hit his growth goal—but that’s a big gamble. I kept the numbers small to make the math easier. Realistic growth goals in today’s diagnostic market are somewhere between 8-30% and make the “Point of No Return” in June or July.
This model only applies to reoccurring consumables and doesn’t apply to capital sales.
Here is a visual representation of The Rule of 78 based on needing to generate $22,000 growth for the year: Click here to view the Rule of 78 Chart
Your thoughts? Questions? Put them in the comments or email me at: email@example.com
Ask a Medical Sales Manager: How will my boss measure my success after my first 90 days as a medical sales rep?
Are you trying to break into medical sales? We talk a lot about preparing for your medical sales interview with a 30/60/90-Day Sales Plan. A well-done plan is your blueprint for the first 3 months on the job–but what about after that? How will your performance be assessed once you’re “on your own”? Well, the stakes get a little higher. “On your own” means the performance meter is running and your evaluation and scrutiny will increase.
Life after the first 90 days as a medical sales rep
Welcome to the big leagues! By now, you better be very familiar with your company’s CRM program (e.g. Salesforce.com) and used to the constant conference calls and/or Facetime calls. If you own or have a company-issued Iphone or Ipad, your regional manager is likely to use that as a tool to update the region’s forecast. What does that mean to you? Don’t be sitting in your jammies at the time the call is scheduled and always have your information and your office area organized.
You’ll probably have very little in-person time with your manager (maybe once a quarter field travel plus national meeting time), so the time you do have with him or her counts. Your manager probably didn’t get to be the manager of your team by not being observant and judgmental, so when you are around your manager, the recorder is running: evaluating your words, actions, and presence. When he/she gets good data and feedback, your life and how your manager deals with you will get better.
Perceptions are reality, so make sure your manager’s perceptions of you create the reality you want. A painting is composed of many brushstrokes, and every interaction is a brushstroke to your manager. Always remember to use the same skills internally as you do externally.
Your hiring manager’s perceptions of you have a big impact on your reality–your life on the job. Some of the rules he has to implement are dictated to him by the company, but on a lot of other stuff, he has discretion on enforcing. For instance, in my experience as a sales manager/director, the rule was that everyone starts out even and everyone does everything for the first 90 days. If you were at or above plan at the end of the 90 days, you got some reprieve based on your performance and compliance. That meant that you had longer to turn in your forecast, your pick of check-in times, your choice of projects to lead, etc.
Influence your hiring manager’s positive view of you
Your attitude and interactions have a big impact on your manager’s perceptions of you, too. (Brushstrokes, remember?) In my 20 years of managing sales reps, I noticed that players always like to have attention and contact. Top reps enjoy chatting with the manager and gaining his or her perspective. Because they’re good, they most often have thought through their situations and have already formed a plan of action, but they believe “two heads are better than one” and are interested in the manager’s input. Reps that are scarcity-based don’t like working in a team environment and rebel at authority. They will have a very difficult life in the corporate world. It doesn’t mean they’re bad, it just means that maybe they’re an entrepreneur and don’t know it yet.
How will your boss measure your success?
My rule was always “Constant Improvement,” and that’s likely to be your manager’s rule, too. As a new rep, that means you should constantly be making strides toward meeting or exceeding your sales goals. So this month is better than last month, and the month after will be better than this one. If you are doing the right things, the right things will happen to get you to that goal.
There are always exceptions and it’s true that if you took over a territory at 65% of plan and after two quarters in the field you’re at 70%, your manager is not likely to be pleased. An improvement of only 5% in 6 months just isn’t fast enough. At that rate, it would take almost 3 years to turn around a poor-performing territory–and if it takes that long, your manager will not likely survive.
10 critical checkpoints to help you stay on track:
1. Have you made face-to-face calls for all of your Best Few prospects in your sales funnel?
a. Have you documented the status of these accounts in your CRM records?
b. Is the sale on track to close? By definition, a Best Few prospect is a 90/90 prospect, meaning 90% is will happen and 90% it will happen in the specified time frame.
c. If it’s off track, have you developed a plan for correction and gained your boss’s input?
2. Have you met all the thought leaders in your territory?
3. Are there any special events/shows planned in your territory? If not, what do you need to do to get one?
4. Have you called Marketing and asked for one of the product managers to field travel with you?
5. Have you corrected any customer satisfaction issues? If it’s a longer-range issue, do you have a plan in place with the buy-in of your boss and the service/technical organization?
6. Have you identified who you can develop as a positive reference/demo site in your territory?
7. Have you met your service engineers and taken them to lunch/breakfast?
8. Are you using a “blown up day” to use as your office day to set appointments? (You haven’t set a particular day like Monday or Friday as your office day every week, have you? You shouldn’t.)
9. You are focusing on accomplishment instead of activity, aren’t you?
10. Are you being a seeker? (Seeking those with information you need.)
Keep a great attitude
Don’t associate/commiserate/communicate with team members that are always negative and complaining.
90% of selling is mental and the rest is in your head.
–Kraig McKee, Senior Recruiter, PHC Consulting
PS – Got questions that only a medical sales manager can answer? Put them in the comments section below.
80% of you won’t agree with this. 20% will:
100% – 20% = Failure for a medical sales rep
How can that be?
If you are a field-based medical sales, laboratory sales, medical device sales, or pharmaceutical sales rep, don’t you always have more tasks to accomplish than time to do them?
Hello 80/20 rule!
Simply stated, the 80/20 rule says:
- 80% of your sales will come from 20% of your accounts.
- 80% of your problems will come from 20% of your accounts.
- 80% of your peers will try, 20% will succeed.
- 80% don’t understand your technology. 20% do.
- If you make 10 prospecting calls, 2 or 3 are usually decent prospects. Which means 80% are “not worthy”, 20% are.
- If you attend a “cross silo” meeting within your company, 80% of the people will be players, 20% will be losers less than winners.
- If your organization notices a small problem with a lot of reagents they manufacture (not a deal breaker–the reagent still works, it just doesn’t work as well as it should), 80% of your customers won’t notice or require help, but 20% will.
As a rep, you may not even question the rule. After all, in most territories, the top 20% of accounts produce 80% of the revenue. From the first day on the job, you are trained and driven to make you sure you exceeded the needs and expectations of those top 20% accounts because they controlled the success of your territory. Focusing on the other 80% of your accounts while neglecting the top 20% will ensure you don’t meet your sales plan. Even if the other 80% love you and your offerings, they normally aren’t big enough to be able to buy more to make up for the loss in your largest (the 20%) accounts.
Here’s the management application of the 80/20 Rule: “Feed the eagles and starve the turkeys.” A manager should spend the most time feeding the eagles: traveling, training and working with the reps who are doing the best–the “high flyers”, the eagles, the top 20%. Starving the turkeys refers to the other 80%. They either have to move up with the eagles through positive actions and better performance, or they probably will perish.
So now that you understand the power of the 80/20 rule, how can you use it to your advantage as a field-based sales rep?
- Any marketing or sales promotion you design or implement should be geared/designed to appeal to your top 20% of accounts. They usually have the financial ability to buy what you are offering–if they want it. Many of the smaller accounts may like what you are offering and the special “deal”, but they don’t have the financial wherewithal to buy, even if they want to. Marketing departments normally look for feedback from the field prior to designing and launching new marketing programs. Have the marketing gurus come out and travel with you in your 20% accounts so they will understand the needs of your largest customers.
- When you are setting your scheduled calls for the week, make sure you spend at least 80% of your time in the field. Back in the day, we used to call it “belly to belly” selling (I think that actually may be a Tom Hopkins saying). Out of 5 business days, you should spend at least 4 (80%) in front of customers. There aren’t too many sales you can make if you aren’t in front of the customer. Don’t even think about going off on the “Well-what-about-telesales,-they-aren’t-in-front-of-the-customer tangent”. You get my point. 80% of their time should be spent on the phone, which, for them, is in front of the customer. That is their “belly to belly selling”.
- If you make 5 presentations in a week, only one is likely to be a real possibility. Now you could argue that a 20% closing ratio is pretty poor. That may be true in some applications, but in others, closing 1 out of 5 would be a great closing ratio–what if you were selling airplanes or some other really high-priced item? Maybe 2 or 3 out of the five proposals you met will close. That would be the exception, but still, with the 80/20 rule in mind, it will make you “prove” to yourself that they are a real prospect, even if you have a dose of skepticism (because of what you know about the 80/20 rule). This mindset can really help you when you are forecasting and trying to assess the probability of closure in a certain time period.
Tattoos and body piercings are extremely popular these days, and becoming more and more common. Does that mean that it’s acceptable to let them be seen when you go to a job interview? In a word…no.
Two medical sales managers, Chris Norris (Sales Manager formerly with GE, CCS, Bayer) and Kraig McKee (Sales Manager formerly with Ventana Medical, Transgenomic, Bayer/Chiron) chat about tattoos, piercings, personal style choices and political views of interview candidates. Hear what they have to say:
Rest in peace Joseph Juran. Inventor of the 80/20 rule.
Your 80/20 rule saved many careers.
How can that be?
If you managed for any period of time and were an effective manager, you have used the 80/20 rule.
Simply stated, the 80/20 rule says that 80% of your results will come from 20% of your efforts.
If you have 10 people on your team, 80% of your results or production will come from your top 2 reps (20%).
If you own a restaurant, 80% of your revenue will most likely come from 20% of the time you are open.
If you have 10 accounts 80% of your revenue will come from the top 2 (20%) of your accounts.
The beauty of the 80/20 rule is that it applies in a myriad of industries, settings and applications. When you first hear it, you may be a bit skeptical, but is really true.
How can I get 80% of my revenue from 20% of my accounts? As many times as you challenge and question the rule, you’ll find it still holds true. Sure there may be a few exceptions, but it most cases it rings true.
Ok great, I understand the rule, how does it apply to line management?
I already mentioned the rep application. You have 10 people in your region and 80% of your revenue will come from two reps. Wouldn’t that mean that it would be wise to spend your travel time with your top performers, the 20% producing the 80%? The obvious answer is yes. You may have heard this rule stated another way “Feed the eagles and starve the turkeys”. The eagles represent the top 20% of your team and the turkeys the balance.
What about looking at the 80/20 rule from a time perspective?
You spend 80% of your time on 20% of your tasks. To make the math simple, let’s think of a week (5 working days).
The rule says that you will accomplish 80% of what needs to be done that week in one day. Does that mean you get to take the other four off? Not really.
Look at it this way.
The most important task you have as a manager is to achieve the corporate goals. These goals are normally a mix of performance/financial goals and MBO’s (Management by Objective) set by your boss. If goal attainment is your top priority, then most of what you do should be directed towards achieving that goal. I am a strong believer in weekly check in/funnel update calls to keep a pulse on the reps mindset, expand my relationship with that rep and update the sales funnel and forecast. Every week, that time with the reps was a priority.
Back to the example with your region and ten reps. Doing check in calls (budgeted at about an hour each) will take all of one day and some of the next morning. So doesn’t that work out to you spending 20% of your time (one day) to accomplish 80% of your goals/objectives? Yes it does.
I know you could split hairs (as you can with most rules or theories) about the exact numbers, i.e. , is it really 20% or it is closer to 25% and if I did that would that really reflect 80% of my productivity or closer to 60%? The answer is all of the above. Kinda.
As a manager meeting production goals and hiring and developing future leaders for the organization are your only goals. All of the other things you do in pursuit of those goals are a “means to an end”. Certainly, the things you do on the other four days of the week are important and contribute to your success, but if you did all of those other things without spending 20% of your week on check in calls, would those other things you did they other four days of the week put you 80% of the way on the path to success?
The answer is no.
By spending 20% of your time you will put yourself 80% of the way “there”.
What to wear to the interview? Chris Norris (Sales Manager formerly with GE, CCS, Bayer) and Kraig McKee (Sales Manager formerly with Ventana Medical, Transgenomic, Bayer/Chiron) chat about what to wear to the interview and how to think about it:
Two medical sales managers chat about interview dress and other presence issues.
If you have a topic that you would like a manager’s perspective on, let us know in the comments below.