5 Ways to Get Past the Gatekeeper

We’ve all been there. Sometimes the hardest part of the job is “getting in the door.” Sometimes I wonder if there’s a course that every front desk person takes on becoming a ‘Gatekeeper.’ (Note to self: next business idea) Moreover, it’s also funny to me that most Medical Device companies spend a lot of time any money helping their sales people have relevant and impactful conversations with physicians, but almost nothing on helping them to set up that conversation. I am a firm believer that this is an acquired skill that anyone can master. Like most things, it comes with practice. Below you’ll find a few good strategies to try. However, it’s important to point out that you need to keep a certain ‘mindset’ for any of these strategies to work. I’ll go into this in later posts, but for now think: Humility, Humor, and Energy. Most importantly, have FUN! If you don’t make these your own, they’ll never work.

1. The Business Card Cake

This is one that I haven’t tried yet, but comes from the President of one of the Top 5 Spine Implant Companies. Sometimes a good laugh can make all of the difference.

Have you ever seen those cakes with pictures on them? You can get them made at most bakeries and grocery stores. Next time you find yourself unable to make a connection within a practice or group, have a cake made in the shape of a business card with your information on top! I bet you get a call back…

2. The Shoebox Approach

“Hey Doc, I’m just trying to get my ‘foot’ in the door! Lol!”

It goes without saying that this is the epitome of “being different.” You want to stand out, but you don’t want to be tacky. Well, unfortunately, you need to push those boundaries if you’re ever going to accomplish your goals.

Get a cheap pair of shoes (preferably unused). Then take one shoe out of the box, and replace it with some collateral, a note, and your card. Mail or ship the box to your intended target. Don’t forget to follow up a week or so later!

3. The Box of ‘Persuasion’

This is by far my “Go-To” method of introduction to a new practice or group. However there are several nuances of this approach that are commonly overlooked. First, your goal in this method is to ‘befriend’ the gatekeeper, not just bypass them. Keep that in mind when you walk in. In this approach, the gatekeeper IS the target. Walk straight up to the receptionist and say, “Hello!… (introduce yourself)… I’ve brought a little box of ‘persuasion’….” From there, strike up a conversation. Crack a self-deprecating joke or two. Finally, close by gaining an understanding of the best way to get a meeting. Remember, these people get called on every day. You are a viewed as a nuisance until proven otherwise. Focus on leaving the receptionist with the thought, “That didn’t suck!,” and you will be successful.

4. The FedEx Method

When was the last time you received a FedEx envelope that you threw into the trash without opening it??? Right, likely the answer is NEVER! Let me tell you, your customers will probably say the same thing. Want to get something into your customer’s hands? There’s sometimes no better way than to send it via FedEx! Include a note and your card. As a matter of fact, I’m using this strategy RIGHT NOW!

5. The Referral Method

Have you ever noticed that if you mention a mutual acquaintance or referral when you make your introduction that the outcome is usually much more fruitful than if you did not? Getting that referral that can help you get through the door is often a lot easier than you think. As medical device reps we interface with a lot of ancillary staff and service providers that are often already selling to or working with our target customers. Strike up a conversation with any of these mutual acquaintances or contacts about a value-based service or product, and ask if the target customer might be interested. The likely response is “Yes!” From their you go straight to your gatekeeper and say,

“Hi, I was talking to So-and-So about X and she felt that Dr. Y would be interested in hearing about it. What is the best way to set up a meeting?”

I guarantee that your chances of talking to that customer will be much greater. Like what you see? Have any suggestions? Don’t forget to leave a comment! Thanks for stopping by!

Quota-Busting Business Plans: Setting Goals that Matter to You!

Congratulations! You’ve got this great new sales job… Now what? Get out your pencil, your smartphone, tablet, whatever! because the most impactful activity for you at this point is to create a PLAN!

Ok, I know what you’re thinking… Lots of people associate ‘business plans’ with lengthy documents, charts with lines pointing up and to the right, and tons of extraneous B.S. and references to God-knows-what… Not me! If it doesn’t fit on one page, I NEVER read it, let alone write it! For me, the most well-thought-out business plans MUST fit on one page. So, take a deep breath. This isn’t going to take you forever. Even better, you may actually enjoy it!

What’s the Goal?

The first step that I take when starting any project (including a new territory) is to create a plan. A successful sales person acts with Intention and Discipline. Both of these require the use of a plan. However, it’s interesting that very few medical device companies work their employees to help them create a usable plan. I’ve worked with and coached many sales people that wait for their manager or sales training support to provide them with a plan. So, here you go. For those of you that have never created a business plan, I’m about to make you a lot of money, because THAT’S THE GOAL, RIGHT?!?

I’m a pretty simple guy and most of the business plans that I create are less than one page long. I’ve adopted a simple process to develop a plan to accomplish anything. Most people will tell you that the first thing that you need to start with is your goal. My process is no different. However I like to focus on goals that matter to you as an individual. I don’t mean some outlandish goal that you feel your manager will appreciate (e.g. a goal to make quota or grow your business by 30%). My goals are a lot more meaningful to me. My goal is to make $X in time period Y so that I can do Z. All 3 of these variables a incredibly important.

You have to know What you want, When you’re going to get it, and Why it’s important… to YOU!

SMART Goals

There’s a lot of information out there about creating SMART goal. Here’s a basic rundown of the SMART goal if you are not 100% clear. At the end of the day, your goal has to really matter to you and has to include some sort of time period that you’re trying to accomplish it. For example a goal to make $200,000 a year in 12 months so that you can take your kids to Disney World would be a good goal. Another example would be to buy your significant other a car, in cash, in January so that they will have safe transportation without increased debt. Both of these examples are very personal to you. I won’t bore you with the psychology, but it matters. Trust me!

In order to accomplish these goals you have to understand how you will make money in your given position. You have to understand your base pay, your commission rate, and your incentive structure. Because there are so many different commission structures base plan and incentive structures out there, I will leave you to do the research and fully understand your comp plan. For simplicity’s sake, in this example, I will use some fictitious numbers:

Base pay = $0, Commission Rate = 10%, No Sales Incentives.

Therefore I know that if I want to make $200,000 a year by next year I need to be selling close to $167,000 a month is given my job. I recommend setting three specific goals one will be your long-term goal what will happen in year three for example from there I work backwards and create my midterm goal. Finally I will create my short term goal. I always utilize this method when creating goals because it allows me to create a road-map to my ultimate goal.

Stay tuned… In my next post I will cover the SWOT analysis. If you’d like to download my template for the One Page Business Plan, you can get it here. Thanks for checking out my blog. Please leave a comment or feel free to contact me with any feedback that you have. Happy Selling!