If you’re a pharma or medical rep, your job isn’t just about educating your clients on the products and services your company provides. It’s also about creating meaningful relationships. As a knowledgeable resource on all things related to your product, it’s important to build trust with physicians and other clients on a professional—and sometimes more personal—level.
At CaterSquad, we believe relationships are built both around the conference table and the lunch table. Mealtimes offer a significant (sometimes overlooked) opportunity to connect with your clients, getting to know them as people and building rapport. Here are four ways to get strategic about using breakfasts and lunches to foster client relationships.
Remember clients’ preferences
We all feel special when someone remembers the little things. Do you recall Dr. Smith raving about her favorite gluten-free bread the last time you got together? Didn’t an office manager mention in an email last week that he’s a vegetarian? Take note! Then, when ordering catering, be sure to consider this info. (Or mention it in your CaterSquad catering order.) Simply anticipating someone’s food preferences shows your ability to listen and pay attention. Don’t be surprised if your thoughtfulness earns you some serious goodwill among your clients.
Start a conversation about food
All right, so you remembered not to order onions for the client who hates them or pasta for the gluten-free doc. Great start! Next time, try taking things a little further. When there’s a break in the conversation and work talk can take a backseat, start a deeper discussion about food.
Consider some conversation starters about whether someone has specific cultural or family connections to food, such as favorite family recipes or foods that represent happy times in their life. If they’re trying to eat healthy, what’s that about for them? Are they getting in shape for a marathon? Do they want to want to set a good example for a loved one (or their own patients)? The way we approach food can say a lot about our identities
and intentions. The more you know about your clients on a personal level, the better service you can provide them.
Order and serve family style
Because of the coronavirus pandemic, ordering food family style may be (literally) off the table for awhile. But eventually, family style service will make its way back to our dining experience. We’re hoping that day comes sooner than later, as there’s something so bonding about sharing a meal communally. Divvying up a large bowl of spaghetti or tray of enchiladas creates a sense of familiarity you simply don’t get from unwrapping your own sandwich. This feeling of closeness with your clients at mealtimes can lead to a greater sense of connection long after the crumbs have been swept from the table.
Make it special and fun
For anyone who eats catered meals often, they can all tend to blur together. Make yourself (and your product) a little more memorable by putting some effort into the breakfasts and lunches you order in. Check out a list of national food holidays, for example, and match your order to National Avocado Day or National Ice Cream Day. (Find a helpful list here.)
Keep a running calendar of clients’ birthdays, too, so you can order them a little something special to celebrate their special day. Remember: little gestures add up to meaningful connections.