Archive for October, 2009

Yesterday I met my husband at Starbucks for an early-morning coffee date. We succumbed to a piece of “low-fat” cinnamon coffee cake and talked about the day ahead. Amidst the heating of the milk that makes that unmistakable Starbucks sound, and the smell of burnt coffee, we began to hear a very loud and very country-accented patron talking about his “drug” (Drug X) and the number of prescriptions “Dr. Black” would be writing of this said drug. It reminded me of my pharmaceutical days and made me smile, and then cringe, and then smile again.

Country Sales Rep (CSR): “Hello Dr. Black. I’m so glad you could meet me this morning for coffee. I like to bring my docs here and treat them to something really special. How is your latte?” *Cheesy and self-satisfied smile*

Dr. Black: “It’s great, CSR. You should bring me a vente next time you visit. (CSR takes a quick note.) Although I’ve met with many drug representatives from your company, you might just be one of my favorites. You really bring me information that is relevant to my patients.” *Rolls his eyes while CSR takes a sip of his latte and reminds himself that CSR will be giving him a generous check after Wednesday night’s dinner program– at which he will serve as a speaker, again.*

CSR: “So, I’ve noticed that you have quite a few elderly patients in your practice.” *Self-satisfied smile again, he thinks himself very perceptive and congratulates himself on delivering a clever hook that has now engaged Dr. Black.*

Dr. Black: “Why yes, CSR, I do have many elderly patients and I’ve really started writing Drug X for quite a few of them.” *Checks his watch, decides that he needs to give CSR about 10 more minutes.*

CSR: “Well, that’s what I wanted to talk with you about this morning. After looking at the prescribing data that my company gives me, it seems that you might only be writing Drug X for 98% of your patients. Now, I know that not all of your patients are elderly, but surely all of them would benefit from Drug X? In fact, the other day, I was talking to one of my Nurse Practitioners who is a huge writer of Drug X; she was telling me that she has seen Drug X make such a difference in her middle-aged patients’ lives, that they are now able to walk all the way to the mailbox and back, play that extra nine holes of golf, and even do their yard work again. And now that Drug X is fully covered on Blue Cross and Blue Shield, there’s not really any reason you shouldn’t write it for every patient in your practice.” *Short pause, then CSR remembers that he should “check-in” or take Dr. Black’s pulse.* So, he adds, “Does this make sense Dr. Black?”

Dr. Black: *Has been glad to have CSR engaged in his sales-pitch and has been eyeing the sexy/gothic coffee barista as she pours out a cafe mocha. Realizes CSR has stopped talking and luckily caught the last part of what he just said.* “Well, I do think that makes a lot of sense, CSR. I’ll have to try that today.”

CSR: *Baffled. Dumbfounded. Does not know what to do. Has been practicing possible objections in his car all morning and this “agreeable” response was not something he was prepared for. Takes the lid off his coffee and peers inside the cup to buy some time.* “Well, that is wonderful Dr. Black. I have been trying to win this big trip with my company and I really needed that 2% of your patients.” *Self-satisfied smile again. Nice recovery and applauds his honesty. Honesty is always the best policy.*

Dr. Black: “Well CSR, I’d better be going. Thank you so much for the latte. I had to go with my regular order this morning, but when you bring me my vente tomorrow, bring me the one you ordered. What did you call it again?”

CSR: “Tiger Lily Spiced Latte, extra sugar but hold the whip. They are really great. I owe all my success to the Tiger Lily Latte.” *Shakes Dr. Black’s hand and goes back to his car to log a few “no-signature” calls. He also leaves the following voice message for his teammates:

“Hey Little Rock Road Runners– this is CSR and I have a success story to leave with all of you– My relationship has just reached its peak with Dr. Black. I’ve been really working on him this month and as we sat down to our morning coffee, he agreed to write Drug X for 100% of his patients. I will be available tonight if anyone wants to talk one-on-one about this victory and how to do this in your own territory. Make it a great day and good-selling!”

Meanwhile Dr. Black returns his nurse’s call that he missed during the coffee-sales pitch: “Marie, yes, I can make it to lunch with Drug Rep B. And please tell Drug Rep C that I will see him this afternoon at 2:00. Tell him I said, “Go Hogs.” Also, please make sure that the check from Drug Rep D is deposited into my special account and call Drug Rep E for samples. I’ll be back to the clinic in a few minutes.”

Leanne: *Wry smile* Please excuse my exaggerated re-count of that pharmaceutical masterpiece. This is not a true characterization of what the job is really like for a good sales rep– but you have to admit that there are a lot of CSR’s out there and it’s just so hard not to poke fun at it them sometimes. But a quick note to CSR– I wouldn’t have been able to make fun of you today if you hadn’t been talking so loud!


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