I still remember being shocked to hear it. I was standing in the Doctor’s entrance to Mission Hospital in Asheville, NC. I was standing there with my buddy who also sold pharmaceuticals. We were there meeting the docs as they left from or arrived for their morning rounds. As they waited for the elevators, just wanting to get on with their day, our job was to say something . . . anything to catch their attention and engage them in a conversation about our products.
Mine was a medicine for arthritis. I thought it was simply supposed to ease the discomfort and reduce the swelling of arthritic joints. That’s why I couldn’t believe what I heard. My buddy starts talking about our drug actually rebuilding joint cartilage. Without getting too involved, his saying that was akin to saying that, if you just took enough of our drug, your rheumatic joints that were crooked from years of disease would eventually just straighten back out. It was quite a claim . . . and not one which seemed credible.
So when we had a “break in the action” and no one else was around, I asked him about it. Our conversation went something like this: I said, “Hey man, where are you getting that ‘rebuilding’ joint cartilage stuff from?” He said, “O it was from a study I read.” “What kind of study and why have I never heard about it? Who were the patients?” “O,” he replied, “they weren’t patients.” I said, “Well, if they weren’t patients, how did they do the study?” “O,” he said, “that study was done in dogs.”
I was thinking to myself, “That’s not a good detail to leave out! You’re here making outrageous claims, while I’m standing here with you and you’re using DOG DATA?? There goes my credibility.” Wow!
Now, as incredulous as I was, I’m sure he wasn’t the first salesman to make an outrageous claim. In fact, we’re so used to outrageous claims that, whenever someone is selling us something, we tend to look at them with suspicion. We don’t quite believe everything we’re told, and that’s a good thing. You can’t even blame yourself for feeling that way because you’ve been burned before. You took someone at their word and they took advantage of you, so you don’t quite believe.