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Redefining the Concept of "Selling" in Healthcare

By Stewart Gandolf, Chief Executive Officer

team handsOvercoming negative, old-school ideas with genuine benefits in patient health.

Nobody likes to be "sold." But there's no "selling" in communicating how products and services deliver needed healthcare benefits to patients.

After almost twenty-five years consulting and helping physicians, dentists and many other healthcare professionals attract more of the patients and cases they want, I'm very used to hearing complaints and resistance to "selling" patients on various healthcare services and solutions.

It's understandable because most healthcare providers pursue their careers because they want to help and heal, not sell and deal. It's also common for many people to associate the concept of sales with various negative connotations related to manipulation, trickery, false promises, etc.

But if you understand sales as the art of influencing people to see the value of good products and services, you quickly begin to appreciate that ethical selling in healthcare is about helping people appreciate and value decisions about their health needs and desires for a healthier, happier life that can have a profound, positive impact.

And when you really believe that what you are "selling" can and does make that kind of difference for people, you don't feel like you are selling at all - and the people who benefit from what you can do to help them don't feel like they are being "sold." All the negative connotations and uncomfortable feelings are absent from the conversation.

I was reminded of this recently while on a video shoot for a client in Oklahoma. It was a great example of "non-selling" sales in action. This particular experience was in a dental office, but it could just as easily been a physician's office, group practice, or a hospital, especially with elective care decisions. The concept of rethinking sales in healthcare travels well from profession to profession, but I'll use the dental example to illustrate.

In this instance we were working with a highly successful practice, and some of their secrets to success quickly became evident. Although many other offices are experienced, trained, and offer the same quality services-this practice clearly excels in case acceptance because they believe in and communicate the health benefits of their services. And it comes across in their conversations with patients.

It doesn't look like selling and it doesn't feel like selling. It feels like a genuine desire and motivation to help people understand the value in doing what is in the patient's own best interest.

No manipulation, no uncomfortable feelings, nothing disingenuous...just people who care about helping their patients. That is really the definition of ethical sales, and healthcare professionals "sell" every day - whenever they communicate with passion and compassion to appeal to their patients to do what is in the patient's best health interest.

In this example, the patient benefit is significantly greater than improved appearance. Their services also help prevent major health issues—and significant costs—down the road. The practitioner has knowledge and experience available to share with the patient. In fact, avoiding bigger healthcare pain and hassles in the future is the primary benefit. With this understanding, patients accept treatment recommendations more readily. The practice is just doing what they feel is their primary mission every day - helping people maintain better dental health.

I often wonder how much positive impact could be made on the level of health in our society if healthcare providers didn't resist the idea of selling, but learned to see the "art of influence" as a way to help motivate people to take better care of themselves.

Please let us know what you think.

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