The key element is the craving.
Marketers at Proctor & Gamble
studied videos of people making their beds. Why? They were
trying desperately to figure out
how to sell Febreze, a product
which seemed to have tremendous
benefits but was on track to be the
biggest flop in company history.
“This is how new habits are created: by putting together a cue, a
routine and a reward,
and then cultivating a
craving that drives the
loop.” ~From “The Power of Habit”
Suddenly, one of the researchers
detected a subtle yet important
pattern. After people sprayed the
room, they stopped and seemed
to enjoy the smell of their newly
cleaned room. The reward was the
smell. The marketers made some
adjustments, and Febreze went on
to earn a billion dollars a year.
Think of your efforts to change
your own habits (anyone else
struggling to break their afternoon cookie habit?) or the habits
of healthcare professionals. How
could you dissect the habits? What
is the cue, routine and reward of
the habit you most need to break?
As an industry, the one habit we
desperately need to change is the
traditional sales call.
Let’s apply Duhigg’s four steps to
Identify the routine. The old
habit is sitting down in front of a
doctor, telling him/her what you
know, then checking the box of
one more call completed.
Experiment with different
rewards. Rewards satisfy cravings.
But the tricky part is that we are
often not conscious of the cravings
that drive our behaviors. The sales
reward typically has been achiev-
ing reach and frequency goals.
That drives the traditional routine
described above. That approach
worked for many years in pharma
selling—but not anymore! Imag-
ine if we adjust that reward. How
would the routine be changed if
your reward from a call was deter-
mined by how much you helped
the doctor treat patients (who are
helped by your product or device)?
Isolate the cue. What is the
goal you have in mind when you
get in your car in the morning?
What are you thinking the moment the doctor says “What’s
new?—I have one minute.”?
Have a plan. Decide exactly
what you will think and do when
the cue appears, then follow
your plan. In your old habit, you
thought about how quickly you
could rhyme off your features and
benefits to check the box of one
more call complete. In this new
habit, your mindset will be on
how to help the doctor become
more effective at improving patient
outcomes. You will ask great questions, listen and respond to the
doctor’s needs. You will get more
time. You will be more engaging
How would the routine be changed if your
reward from a call was
determined by how
much you helped the
doctor treat patients?