Common Characteristics of the Best Healthcare Sales Reps: Part 1

Have you ever wondered why some healthcare sales reps consistently out-perform their peer’s year in and year out? We think they exhibit twelve (12) key characteristics. In Part 1 of this blog we will review the first seven (7): accountability, process orientation, bias for action, experts at time management, buyer personas, customer intimacy and lose early. In Part 2 (next week) we will focus on the last five (5): strategize & collaborate, craftsmen, always prepared, ask good questions and empathy.

Here are the first seven (7) characteristics that the “best healthcare sales reps” exhibit:

  1. Accountability – They have a “no excuses” mentality. They understand their job is to “make the number aka sales quota” and they are relentless in doing so. They are as aggressive in pursuing their quarterly number in week one of the quarter as they are in week twelve. They don’t fret over the sales quota they have been given. They embrace it and become focused and obsessed on achieving it. Ask a high performer where they are month-to-date, quarter-to-date and year to date against quota and they can tell you. Ask them how many more selling days there are in the quarter and they can tell you.
  2. Process Orientation– In healthcare sales you can work hard, work smart or do both. World class healthcare sales reps do both. They take the time to create a “Path to the Quota.” This is done by developing a territory plan and determining how they will grow their business. They are experts in understanding customer conversion, penetration, retention and churn. They can discuss at length selling existing or new products to existing or new customers. In essence they know where to hunt and they plan for the unexpected: product failures, delays in receiving new products, purchase order delays, emergence of new buying influences and other untoward events. They keep their sales funnel full with opportunities that they have a fighting chance of winning and they ensure they have enough opportunities in their funnel that they can still exceed plan.
  3. Bias for Action– In sales, unforeseen problems occur daily. World class healthcare sales reps attack problems relentlessly. When obstacles present themselves, they go over, around and through them. They are action oriented in everything they do because they are focused on driving sales results.
  4. Experts at Time Management– World class healthcare sales reps don’t waste time-they manage it. They understand time is their enemy in sales and they use their selling time carefully. They make more “effective” calls per day because they allocate a high percent of their day to selling activities (face-to-face and phone-to-phone) rather than non-selling activities such as travel, paperwork etc. It’s a combination of account development and opportunity pursuit. We call this rigor.
  5. Buyer Personas– The best healthcare sales reps understand their buyer’s personas. These are descriptive overviews of the people who buy, or might buy, products or services like the ones they sell. They go beyond demographics and define psychographic criteria such as behaviors, motivations, priorities, business concerns, traits, success factors etc.Understanding buyer personas is important because buying decisions are driven by emotional factors then justified by rational factors such as product attributes and pricing. Any number of subjective factors can distort the process: business politics, conflicting priorities, past experience with your firm, etc.
  6. Customer Intimacy– High performers manage their customers carefully and develop strong, deep relationships. They realize it’s easier to sell an existing customer than a new one. They also understand that satisfied and loyal customers refer clients to them. They leverage customer relationships to mitigate problems early and to help them exceed their quota. They use their customer relationships to uncover new opportunities before others learn of them.
  7. Lose Early– Top healthcare sales reps qualify each new prospect carefully and against rigid criteria. Some call it an ideal customer profile, perfect prospect profile or target customer. They determine early on that the prospect has a problem they must fix or avoid or an opportunity they must capitalize on. If they have to remove an opportunity from their funnel they want to “lose” it early, and not late in the sales funnel. They understand that it’s painful to lose late after they have spent considerable time, money and company resources. They would rather remove a poor opportunity from their funnel early than waste time hoping something will change and it will look better in the future. Wishful thinking is not a sound strategy.