By Stewart Gandolf
Chief Executive Officer
We do it all the time…often without thinking much about it. To convince, collaborate, entice or persuade, everyone is “selling” something. It can be as casual as nominating a place for lunch, or presenting an idea.
And doctors, dentists and virtually all healthcare providers regularly seek agreement and compliance from patients about a course of treatment.
The process can also be about providing a revenue-generating product or service. And, in the broader sense, making the final transaction is the intended conclusion of the healthcare delivery process and the practice marketing effort. It’s probably easier than you think.
Achieving agreement or compliance—in large or small matters—is a process. Some sales systems are exceptionally elaborate, require extensive training, and come complete with supporting software programs. But at the heart of every effective sales process, there are only four essential elements.
The Easy, 4-Step Sales Process
Master these easy steps and you’ll be comfortable with the process and, most often, you’ll achieve your goal. It’s important to take these steps in the following order and to give them the indicated amount of time or effort.
1. Build Rapport (40 percent of time/effort) – Invest most of your time and effort in simply getting acquainted and building rapport. This is nearly half the system, yet it is not directly concerned about the product, service or issue at hand. This critical step is often overlooked or shortchanged, but personal rapport building puts everyone at ease and opens the door to establishing a trusting (and hopefully lasting) relationship.
2. Discover Needs (30 percent of time/effort) – Often this is a listening step. It gathers information about the needs and interests of the patient and describes what’s important to them. Asking questions will often reveal their expectations and the solutions they would like to find.
3. Present Solutions (20 percent of time/effort) – With a clear understanding of the need, it’s a natural step to offer answers to that need. Describe the benefits of the product, service or solution in terms of the other person’s expectations. Clearly understand the needs discovered in Step 2 and your solution should be an appealing answer.
4. Ask for Acceptance (10 percent of time/effort) – Sales people often call this “the close.” In fact, asking for agreement or acceptance should be the easiest of the steps because it verifies that you have presented an answer to the patient’s expressed needs or expectations. (If you don’t find acceptance, revisit Steps 2 and 3.) Above all, don’t assume that you’ve won agreement. You need to ask.
Read more about the sales process for physicians in our previous post, Learning to Love Sales From the Caring Side of Medical Practice Marketing.