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Cold Calls: One “Yes” To Nine “No”s

When its first established, a new TeleWeb team typically starts dialing their way through a Target List contacts database provided by the sales department, offering doctors the chance to join an informative remote TeleWeb session.
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If one representative calls 100 people, it’s often the case that 5 will sign up quickly, 3 will follow more slowly, and then the level of interest and trust runs dry. It can often feel like a miracle if the first session is attended, let alone completed, by 10 out of 100 doctors. The field representatives’ contact database is now empty.

Next comes the idea to externally acquire a new database of doctors’ contacts with appropriate specialization and call those who haven’t yet been contacted.

Hot versus cold

Put simply, a hot call is expected and desired, a cold call is unexpected and rarely desired.
What percentage result in successful recruitment to a detailing session?

  • Cold – 1-15%
  • Hot – 80-90%.

Here’s how the recordings usually sound.

Hot Call

– John?

– Yes!

– Have you signed up for [this or that]?

– Actually I have, sounds interesting.

– Would you like [an offer]?

– I think that could work really well.

 

Cold Call

– John?

– Yes!

– It’s Anna from [company name]. We have a unique offer…!

– I can’t talk now. Send me an email. I will call you back.

– I understand, just wanted to explain why [brand] is the best…!

– Where did you get my number? I can’t hear you well. Call me back next year.

And then the dreaded dial tone – the doctor has hung up.

Please remember:

If there is consent of any kind, it gives you protection if things were ever to turn legal, but does not oblige the doctor to wait for your call, answer the phone or agree to your offer.

Also, the fact that a call is made by a “representative who knows all the doctors” does not make it ‘hot.’ It becomes hot when it’s actively invited and hoped for.

Using cold calls, the new database again runs out quickly with just 2%-12% converting to successfully attending a remote session. If these same doctors are being approached by a few competitors at the same time, the conversion rate can drop to zero.

This scenario is quite typical: out of a total of 7,000 doctors who are potential targets, the team locates and calls 3,500, with 400 detailing sessions emerging as a result.

Of the 3,100 specialists who don’t sign up, some will report being busy, some will be irritated by the call (“where did you get my number?”), some will make excuses and ask to be called back in a few months, and a few will simply never pick up the phone.

On their best days, each representative will make 2-4 successful sessions a day, spending most of his day doing cold calls inviting doctors and only occasionallyu actually se4rving the presentation to the doctor.

So it’s time for the big question – when your database has run dry, how do you get a flow of “hot” requests from screened doctors with obvious potential?

First, you have to recognize that the real problem isn’t that the database has run out. Even if you locate the remaining 3,500 potential contacts, using cold calls again will lead to the same minimal results, and the same negative long term consequences in terms of annoyed or irritated doctors.

If, out of the 3,500-doctor database, you only secured 400 sessions from cold calls, you need to stop making cold calls and find new ways to engage the doctors.

Email campaigns to cold contacts have a similar effect to cold calls. Even though emails don’t irritate people as much as cold phone calls, because they don’t require a direct answer and are easy to ignore, the mailing potential is still limited to the size of the database. Worse, the conversion does not often exceed 1-2% – because so many simply won’t read the email!

So – out of 7,000 potential clients, only 500 were engaged. 6,500 failed to engage and 2,600 felt actively annoyed by an unwanted cold call. Obviously the “push” method doesn’t do the job.

We were founded to find a way to engage 100 new doctors each day from the remaining 6,500-doctor pool, with total compliance and transparency. We turned to the experience of other industries which engage customers via online media and e-commerce tools, and adapted these totals to pharma RX marketing specifics.

Engaging doctors with the “pull method”, using global ad networks, potentially gives us another chance at access to all 7,000 specialists – and more.

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