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Lessons From A Salesman

Vivek Shukla

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Approach Your Work With Full Enthusiasm: Remember, enthusiasm is contagious. If you are going about your day with full vigour and enthusiasm, chances are that the people around you will go about their work in the same manner. It will even rub on to your patients. They will seem eager to follow your instructions and will be committed to handling their own disease more proactively.

Try to remember the last time when you bought something just because the person selling it seemed too excited and happy about the product. Your local vegetable vendor can be a good example. It is amazing how they are so enthusiastic about selling vegetables. You mostly end up buying more than you require.
Never Criticise: Whining and complaining about the system or co-workers or circumstances will rob you of your energy. A good salesman will never criticise the competitor or the circumstances. He knows that his credibility will suffer if he talks negative about others. He is fully excited about his product and he fully believes that his product is the best. As a doctor your attitude has to be positive. Say positive things, praise people where necessary and avoid condemning other doctors or the system.
Smile With Your Heart: Seldom does a smile go waste. If you smile with your heart, you are bound to get a smile. There is a famous saying- ‘He did not have a smile on his face, so I gave him one’. A genuine smile is not given with lips and teeth or by saying cheese. Your entire face and body should smile. Remember the group photo when all of you went on that picnic and it was so much fun? Take a look at that picture again, all of you are not just smiling with your lips, but your entire bodies reflect how much fun you were having!

If you are happy about seeing someone, inform your face and body about it. Like the Americans say- ‘Let it rip’. If my doctor greeted me with a warm smile, half of my agony will be gone in an instant. Salespeople attribute their success to how often they smile during work. My mentor once told me that if I went to an important interview and if I could make the panel smile back to me, I would most likely get the job.
Tell Them What Is In It For Them: What will they get as opposed to how will you do it to them. Let’s face it- we all are self centred. Even your patients are self centred. They want to know what they will get. So tell them what they will get instead of how they will get it. As a consultant, I tell my prospects that they will get 30-40 per cent increase in profits in a year. How I will do it is never the opening discussion.

Let us take an instance of a person with multiple fractures of tibia. What will he get if a surgery is done? What will he get if the surgery is not done and only plaster is done? What will he gain or lose if Illizarov technique is applied to the broken bone? The focus is on what will he get. It will be a mistake to tell him how you will carry out each technique. He is interested in himself. How long will he be hospitalised under each treatment option? Will it be painful to go for surgery? How much will he pay for each option? Will you be able to do a good job? Are these the only options or there are other ways too? These are some of the things he wants to know. Talk about the whole experience that he will have to undergo with each option. Also talk about the end results and probabilities of complications for each treatment option. Be in his world. Answer his concerns. Get out of your own head and thoughts.
Appeal More To The Emotional Mind Rather Than The Logical Mind: Give them an emotional reason to buy your advice. We have two minds – emotional and logical. The emotional mind is stronger. A jeans salesman tells me how I look and how well the pair fits me rather than telling me what fabrics are used in creating that pair. A car salesman tells me what a premium car will do to my prestige in the society. A good doctor also tells a pregnant mother that folic acid helps in growth of the baby and calcium and iron are also important for the mother and child. He gets them to see how a healthy baby will bring smiles and laughter in the family. Then the same doctor tells the same things to the father of the baby to ensure that the advice is followed. Let them visualise happiness, health and prosperity before giving them scientific reasons.

Here is a guaranteed result-producing sales technique – get them to experience the discomfort with the present scenario. Then get them to visualise how their future will be after they follow your advice. Getting them to visualise is a strong sales tool. Use it more often.
Always Follow Up: Excellent salesmen always keep in touch with their existing and previous clients. They ensure that they are getting repeat business and referrals from the existing data list. So, send them birthday cards, send them new year wishes, remind them of their appointments with you, call them over for a cup tea and give them information. The idea is to keep them in touch with you.

Selling the idea of a healthy life is the essence of the job of a doctor. Your success depends upon how many patients get well after ‘buying’ your advice. So it never harms learning ‘selling’ skills. After all, we are all salesmen!


The writer is a Healthcare Marketing Consultant based at Dharamshala.
E-mail: [email protected]

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