The Gatekeeper

One of the very first lessons that I learned as a medical device representative is how to gain access to my target customer. When I started as a Neuroscience Specialty Representative, access was very easy, because most of psychiatrists that I called on did not have a receptionist or a nurse. Usually there was a very nice waiting room full of magazines. I would patiently flip through the magazines until the doctor came out to receive their next patient. Normally, I would be give a few minutes to collect a signature, drop off samples and if I was very lucky I would be able to get a quick detail message in.

However, in most group practices, the first person I see is the "gatekeeper." And as a medical device representative, you will most certainly run into a gatekeeper. This person is usually a receptionist, nurse or office manager. In some cases it will be the medical technician, biomedical personnel or the director of the department.

The most important task is to make the gatekeeper your friend. They are your best ally in the office because they grant you access to the decision makers, they are able to offer insight on the decision making process and sometimes they will share information about your competitors with you.

This advise may sound a bit corny, but it has served me well. Always treat the gatekeeper like they are your best friend that you haven't seen in five years. Treat them to dinner or lunch. Bring them flowers for their birthday. Bring them souvenirs from your vacation. And most of all never show up empty handed. Always have something to offer, even if the only thing you have are the pens and sticky pads from your company. Follow this advice and not only will have access to everything that happens in the office, you will also develop a pool of friends that will be more than happy to provide you with references for later use.

All the best.

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