Eight Steps to Impact and Influence

Communicating meaningfully is becoming more difficult than ever before. While technology has created an ever increasing number of ways to communicate, many people are now insulated and protected. Consequently we’re losing the skills and abilities to communicating in the most influential way – face to face.

There’s a real danger to the maintenance of meaningful communications and professional client relationships. If you become overly dependent on email or text messages, you focus on the object, not your doctor and what is important for their patients. If you can’t keep the attention of your doctor for them to understand your message, you won’t influence them to take action.

Failure to communicate effectively face to face has a phenomenal impact on the growth of your business and relationship with your doctors.
• Miscommunication and understanding.
• Wasted time.
• Loss in profits.
• Minimize ability to effectively project trust, confidence and credibility.

There are certain topics of conversation where face-to-face communication will absolutely be the best way to influence action.

• Motivating the doctor to use your product.
• Resolving a misunderstanding or conflict.
• Seeking clarification after written communications has failed.

Communicating with impact and influence face-to-face requires discipline, determination, and self-awareness. Begin with the following eight must have steps.

1. Make your moments with your doctor’s count. Everyone has the right to speak. Earn the right to be heard. Think about what you want to say before you say it. Every word counts. Tailor what you say to meet your doctor’s client’s needs.
The biggest challenge I hear from pharmaceutical sales professionals is,

2. Pay attention by listening for the unspoken emotions. Even if the doctor is busy with a chart, do not let your eyes dart away which signals you’re no longer paying attention. Wait to speak only when the doctor has finished what they want to say. Listen and read their expressions to gain maximum understanding of the why behind their words.

3. Honor the doctor’s time. Prepare and get to the point quickly by speaking in short and concise sentences. Replace your non-words (“uh,” “um,” “so,” “you know … “) with a pause to find your thought. Avoid rambling and cluttering your message with unnecessary points.

When I observe pharmaceutical sales professionals detail their doctor, they frequently will begin the conversation with the words, “I know you’re busy but…” Instead, acknowledge your doctors time by getting to the point. Ask for a clear and specific action. Even when you only have a minute of the doctor’s time, you will communicate more with less.

4. Prepare for your face-to-face meeting ahead of time. I was asked to observe several pharmaceutical sales professionals during their ride alongs to help identify their areas of improvement. Every conversation they had with their doctor was identical from clinic to clinic. They were missing the opportunity to tailor their message to the doctor’s patient’s needs.

Incorporate K.N.O.W. into your pre-plan.
• K - What does your doctor know about your topic?
• N - What does your doctor need to know to take the action you want them to take in the time frame you have for this conversation?
• O - What is your doctor’s opinion about your topic?
• W - Who is your doctor? What additional information do you know about your doctor to help you customize your message for them and their practice?

When the pharmaceutical sales professionals prepared their conversations with K.N.O.W., they spoke less and listened more. This gave their doctors an opportunity to tell THEM what THEY needed.

5. Avoid non-verbal abuse. Your behavior and non-verbal cues are as important as the words you say. From the moment you walk into the doctor’s office, be aware of what your body language communicates. If you want to convey confidence and trust you must convey these from the time you walk into the doctor’s office to the time you walk out. Don’t fidget, act nervous or allow your posture to convey uncertainty or insincerity.

6. Be Sincere and Authentic. Be genuine and allow the doctor to see the real you.

7. Maintain control of the conversation. Be interesting. I frequently hear pharmaceutical sale professional’s state, “My doctor never looks at me when I am talking.” If you see the signs that you’re no longer the center of attention:
• Your doctor begins working on their Blackberry, iPad, IPhone, etc.
• Your doctor begins to have side conversations.
• Your doctor consistently interrupts you.

Stop. Break the flow. Earn their attention. Get back on track.

8. During a ride along, ask for specific feedback about your key points, the manner in which you presented and the way you responded. Ask for balanced feedback about how to improve and immediately begin applying this feedback.

Regional and District Managers who provide balanced feedback immediately during their ride alongs, observed sales professionals:
• Communicate more clear and concise product research
• Improve their communication behavior to gain and keep their doctors attention
• Gain the doctors agreement to write a signature

Author's Bio: 

Stacey Hanke is a communication guru, author and speaker. She is the co-author of the book "Yes You Can! Everything You Need From A To Z To Influence Others To Take Action." As a communications guru, Stacey reveals how to develop verbal skills to influence and persuade others. How many of us can say we had a great idea, but could not do just that... say it?
To learn more about Stacey's powerful programs visit http://www.1stImpressionConsulting.com. To set up a free consult with Stacey about improving your team's communication skills call 312.955.0380 or email Stacey.Hanke@1stImpressionConsulting.com.