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April 29, 2018

Want to improve your sales results? Sell like a doctor.

For years, while working with providers of market research consulting and technology services, one of my pleas has been (and still is)… “Seek first to help… then to sell.” I believe it is THE most effective selling mindset for winning projects and – more importantly – long-term relationships with clients.

But recently, I heard that same sentiment stated another way… one that, I think, will resonate with most of us: “Sell like a doctor.”

I went through rotator cuff surgery last year. And in thinking back about the interactions with my orthopedic surgeon throughout the process, I thought about his “selling skills” and how they might translate in our industry.

He was patient

The decision to do surgery wasn’t reached in one visit. There were several visits, some x-rays and an MRI. He didn’t push me and I wanted to take the time fully understand what I was getting into. He even shared informational brochures about the procedure so I could learn more.

His words resonated with me

When communicating with prospective buyers, I believe strongly in the proven “feature-benefit” concept… that is, tell the buyer what they will get, then explain how they will benefit from it (answering their question, “Why is this important to me?”). And my doctor did that, describing in fairly simple terms (limiting the technical jargon is important) what the procedure consisted of and what would happen as a result of it. He even used a 3-D model to help show me what was wrong with my shoulder and describe the operation so I would fully understand.

He set expectations

Lastly, we talked about the procedure (and, in fact, the entire experience). He shared with me what to expect in terms of anticipated outcomes, recovery, physical therapy and the long-term effects.

Bottom line

From a sales perspective, my doctor gets an A+…

  • First, I had a specific need/problem that he had the “right” solution for.
    • If you don’t have the right solution, don’t try to jury-rig something just to make the sale.
  • We talked, over time, so I never felt pressured into making a knee-jerk decision.
    • Don’t push the prospect. You’re on his/her timetable anyway. Be patient and stay engaged.
  • He helped me to understand the problem and all of the options for addressing it.
    • Share resources, explain the process and educate if they have knowledge gaps. Solve, don’t sell.
  • He helped me understand what to expect… he told me what the end results should be; there are no guarantees in surgery (or in business).
    • How will the project progress, what will your communication look like, what’s the anticipated timeframe, what will the reporting look like? Don’t leave them guessing.

Bottom line: my doctor did exactly what I hope everyone in our industry would do… he didn’t try to “sell” me anything… he simply did all of the things necessary to help me make a smart “buying” decision. And isn’t that what you really want with your clients?


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