Tim, our representative speaking ‘from the field,’ gives his light-hearted angle on the day-to-day issues faced by medical sales professionals.

I AM CURRENTLY in a well-known coffee shop, where I have found the quality of the coffee and the muffins is a key factor contributing to the quality of my call reports. I’m serious. Before I go home each day I set aside some time for admin. The coffee and muffins (and a deep feeling of smugness) are my reward for keeping on top of my computer work.
The advent of affordable and portable computers was a positive boon for our industry. Electronic Territory Management Systems (ETMS) became a major element of our jobs. The ability to share a written account of customer discussions not only with your immediate colleagues but with the whole company can be the difference between a customer using your product or not. With numerous reps selling the same drug, it is easy to imagine how impressed a customer may be when you say: “My colleague spoke to you about X, and to follow on from that I would like to discuss Y.”
In my experience, most of us try to use ETMS as effectively as possible. Those who don’t probably didn’t use paper systems very well. The call comments “discussed product” or “saw briefly in corridor” are as useless on paper as they are on a computer. Perhaps I’m being a bit harsh: at least with paper, fewer people have to waste time reading such pointless remarks. But when one person doesn’t make the effort with call reports it acts as a disincentive to their colleagues, which can lead to a downward spiral.
Some reps have told me they don’t like being monitored by ETMS. But a good ETMS involves an element of policing – why shouldn’t it? If a mechanic does a bad job on my car, I expect the management of the garage to know about it. If the same mechanic does a bad job again, I expect that employee to be publicly flogged – or at least threatened with it. Or perhaps, instead of a punishment, the mechanic could be given support and encouragement in his or her work. This could lead to better performance, improved self-esteem, good working relationships, pay-rises, bonuses. Stop me when you think any of this sounds undesirable.
If you still think policing is a wholly negative idea, consider what happens when you do a good job. With ETMS, it is easier for management to notice when you are doing well. This could result in reward and recognition, which could lead to better performance, improved self-esteem, good working relationships… Need I go on? The monitoring function of ETMS can benefit all of us.
Well, my coffee has now gone, and what remains of my muffin is either down my shirt or on the floor – a state of affairs that indicates it is time to go home. And all my admin is done. At least, that is, until tomorrow!