How to Discuss Marketing
with Physicians: What to Say

November 15, 2016

Once you’ve gotten the sales department on board with the idea of talking to physicians about marketing, you need to make sure that everyone is clear on what can and cannot be said.

As you are well aware, there are legal and ethical boundaries that you don’t want to cross. This is why teaching your sales force what to say and what not to say is an important part of the training process.

These are some of my suggestions on what to say and what not to say.

1. Be clear that marketing services are provided at fair market value.

As you know, medical device and pharma companies cannot provide marketing services to their clients, nor can they offer services at discounted or “special” rates. Salespeople should be clear that services from your marketing partner are provided at fair market value. It is both illegal and inappropriate to suggest that physicians and surgeons can offer discounted services from your marketing partner.

However, you can refer your clients to a marketing company. This is why it is important to partner with a marketing company that you know you can trust to help your clients.

My company, Mudbug Media, offers a marketing platform for medical practices called P3 Inbound. We have always been clear and upfront about our pricing, because it eliminates the confusion about costs and also protects the medical device and pharma companies we partner with.

Pricing is the same for everyone, whether physicians find our website organically or hear about it from a sales rep. To keep your company and your clients protected, you should work with a marketing company that does the same.

2. Give an overview of marketing services.

Salespeople don’t need to know everything there is to know about marketing a medical practice. That’s just one of the reasons your company has selected an experienced marketing partner. They don’t need to get into marketing strategy, unless they are really savvy and feel comfortable doing so.

However, sales reps should be able to talk about the marketing services offered by your marketing partner. Essentially, sales reps are “selling” physicians and surgeons on the concept of marketing their practices, just as they would a new device or medication. They need to be empowered with enough information to give an overview of the different marketing services offered by your partner, as well as how they can help.

The win for the salesperson isn’t actually selling the marketing services—they won’t get any commission on it like they would for selling a device or medication. The win is that the salesperson is demonstrating to clients that he or she understands the business of medicine and cares about their success.

3. Ask physicians & surgeons about their needs and marketing challenges.

When sales reps ask their clients about their needs and challenges, they are not only showing clients that they understand the business of medicine, but also are gathering important information for the marketing partner to develop a plan.

Sales reps might ask physicians about competition in the area, or what types of marketing they have tried in the past. All of this information is useful for your marketing partner in developing recommendations, and it gives sales reps something to talk about with clients other than products.

4. When in doubt, always consult with your legal team.

When you are sending the sales team out to discuss marketing services with physicians and surgeons, it’s always a good idea to get recommendations from your legal team. They can advise you on the specifics of what you should and should not say. This will ensure that everyone is clear on the legal and ethical boundaries, so that salespeople do not cross any of those boundaries when speaking with clients.

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