A challenge in any B2B sales job is getting past the gatekeeper. Medical sales is no different. So how you get past the gatekeeper in medical sales? We need to address the two different settings reps go to prospect. The hospital and the doctor’s office. The clinic setting is where the gatekeeper comes into play most often. If you do not have a relationship and you stop by a clinic attempting to chat with a doctor, you will most likely be met by a receptionist or clinic manager blocking your effort. In the hospital setting it can be easier to get directly to the providers. Though, there are still gatekeepers in the form of administrators and materials management folks that may hinder your ability to call on physicians.
What Does Gatekeeper Mean In Sales?
A gatekeeper in sales is anyone standing in between you and the potential prospect. It is traditionally a receptionist, but it can be anyone. The gatekeeper is not involved with product purchases or decisions. But they control access and scheduling for the end user.
Related: How To Succeed At Medical Sales Prospecting
How To Get Past The Gatekeeper At A Doctor’s Office
First off, you need to accept that you will have to interact with the gatekeeper. This is part of cold calling and part of the sales process. It will not help you close deals, but it is the first step. Be courteous and explain your objective. Many times the receptionist will not fully understand the details of your product and company. Be confident and speak slowly and clearly. Keep things simple. Do not go into a product pitch or provide unnecessary details when talking with the secretary or receptionist. Simply state that you are the rep for company XYZ and you would like to setup some time to speak with Dr. Smith. Ask when Dr. Smith meets with vendors and get understanding of the schedule. Leave information and understand that the first conversation is only one of many touches. If you are professional, kind, and patient with the gatekeeper you will eventually get access to the doctor.
How To Get Past The Gatekeeper On A Cold Call In The Hospital
Prospecting in the hospital environment is much different. Hospitals are big operations. If you are wearing scrubs and are squared away with vendor credentialing, you are free to roam. There is usually not a specific individual blocking you from talking with doctors. If you know where you are going, you can go right to the physicians. Still, a strong relationship with the supporting clinical staff can be a huge asset. It can be difficult at times to track down a specific provider in the OR or ICU. If you get to the know the charge nurse or lead tech you will have a friend that can give you the run down on schedules. This may not be needed as you spend more time at a facility. But it can really help when you are trying to get your foot in the door.
Related: Medical Sales Cold Calling – Strategies For Success
Getting Past The Gatekeeper In Medical Sales
We have come up with some tips and tricks for building rapport with gatekeepers. Remember, sales is a process with many stakeholders. The gatekeepers and support staff can play an important part in the overall process.
- Always Be Respectful – Sometimes it can get frustrating when a receptionist is clearly blocking your access for no other reason than making your life difficult. Be patient, it is never worth it to burn a bridge.
- Think Long Term – Remember, it can take five to seven touches to get access to a potential customer. Each touch with a gatekeeper is building towards this. Don’t get frustrated and act in a way you may regret later.
- Be Creative – Do not make the same type of call on every visit. Mix it up. Use the phone, send letters, drop off information, drop by lunch or coffee. Stopping by “just to check in” can start to get obnoxious from the customer’s perspective.
- Ask Good Questions – It can be helpful to know the gatekeeper. This may sound cheesy. In movies the sales rep is always sweet talking the receptionist. It doesn’t have to be like that. Building a strong rapport with the front office staff is a great way to get information on the practice. Also, it makes the job more fun.
- Be Persistent – New sales reps are quick to give up. They stop by once or twice and don’t get anywhere. They then think future visits would be a waste of time. Again, remember sales is a process. It is important to make different types of touches spread out over a period of time. You never know when you will break through and make progress. Sales is a numbers game.
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