Redefining Selling

Edition: October 2001 - Vol 9 Number 10
Article#: 1081
Author: Repertoire

You can talk about consultative selling til you're blue in the face. But actually making it part of the culture of an entire sales force is another thing. Yet, that's what Jacksonville, FL-based PSS is trying to do.

''This is probably the most significant marketing initiative we've ever launched,'' says Vice President of Sales Scott Helfrich. ''It is redefining our approach to the marketplace, and letting our salespeople know that we expect them to be value-added consultative business partners with our customers.''

''It'' refers to SRx, the company's newly launched disease-management approach to selling. The name stands for ''specialty solutions,'' where the ''S'' stands for specialty and the ''Rx'' for solutions, its traditional meaning.

''This is no longer about a demonstration sell, where we take a product and say, 'Hey doc, what do you think?''' says Helfrich. ''It's a redefined approach.''

It calls for reps to delay introducing products until they understand who their customer is and what disease states he or she is primarily treating, says Helfrich. Products are introduced only in the context of what the doctor needs to evaluate and manage those diseases.

''In order for our reps to bring value to the doctor, we can't waste [the doctors'] time,'' he says. ''We have to be there with something that really fits their needs.'' SRx helps them do just that, and in the process, gets PSS reps right where they want to be – in front of the doctors. ''And that's a good thing, whether we sell anything or not,'' says Helfrich.

Collateral Material

PSS reps try to share the rationale for and approach to SRx with their customers upfront. In a typical scenario, says Helfrich, the rep might say to the customer: ''We're making an attempt to better understand your specialty. We've identified the top five disease states in your specialty. I'd like to talk with you about them, and the patient evaluation and management issues. If these are different from the top five disease states in your practice, what are your top five? What solutions are you using or looking for?''

Each rep has supporting information for himself and the doc on the doc's specialty. They have access to statistics on the specialty, such as how many doctors are in it, as well as the most common disease states within it. ''They know the CPT codes and every conceivable detail that we think is pertinent for the success of our salespeople,'' says Helfrich.

Then the rep reviews with the customer what Helfrich calls the ''value propositions'' of the program, including products directly related to the pertinent disease states and potential cost-savings strategies. Using an online resource, the rep can review with the doc the relationship between the disease states he or she is dealing with, the drugs he or she is prescribing, and the diagnostic tests related to the disease and the pharmaceuticals being used.

''Everything is customized,'' says Helfrich. ''Our system automatically reports to doctors the return-on-investment on products, and automatically generates proposals for the sales rep – all customized around the data we've input based on our talk with the physician.'' In some cases, all the rep can do is reaffirm what the physician is doing in his or her practice. But in other cases, the rep can actually provide solutions based on clinical information. ''This makes us truly a partner or consultant with the physician, to impact patient care and the success of the practice,'' says Helfrich.

The program includes more than simply reimbursable products, he adds. It also includes products that can enhance the physician's practice, and products that can be bundled together for similar solutions.

A Big Deal

As with any big change, SRx has its early adopters as well as laggards among the sales force. ''We're very pleased with what's happened with the early adopters,'' says Helfrich. ''And we've seen others who are skeptics, who are gradually migrating to this platform, because it works.''

In the end, SRx comes down to one thing, he says: ''We can't expect to grow our business if we don't bring these kinds of solutions to our customers.''