By Stewart Gandolf
Chief Executive Officer
At first, this post may seem completely unrelated to medical practice marketing, but stick with us. A lot of successful doctors and healthcare providers we know can relate to this story about a sales guy who never wanted to work in sales.
Although many professionals don’t like the label “sales,” it is a vital part of healthcare delivery, medical marketing and advertising. Pick a word that you prefer, but hold to the concept that sales doesn’t mean being pushy or overbearing, as the stereotypes would suggest. Instead, sales isn’t about manipulation, it’s about caring. (Something most doctors do instinctively.)
In his post, The Most Important Lesson On Sales That I Ever Learned, S. Anthony Iannarino shares his personal story about wanting to be a rock musician. And, like many doctors we know, he writes that he never wanting to work in sales.
“In fact, to say I hated salespeople wouldn’t have gone far enough to describe my loathing. I moved to Los Angeles to front a rock band. But, events conspired to send me in another direction,” Mr. Iannarino says.
You’ll want to read the full article here. But the important lesson begins at a time when his day job was as a service representative in a large, international staffing firm. “Having been trained in the family business, I had grown up under the belief that I was supposed to use my down time to call and see if anyone else could use our services. But that wasn’t sales; that was just trying to help people who needed something.”
As his story unfolds, we learn that the outside sales representatives, who were supposed to be bringing in new business, were not winning any new accounts. And Mr. Iannarino was challenged to take the outside sales job he didn’t want. He protested: “Sales? I hate sales! I don’t like salespeople, and I would never, ever want to be one. They are deceitful, manipulative, and they lie.”
“Look,” he told his manager, “I take care of my customers. I love them, and they love me. I help them with their problems, and we work really well together.” Without skipping a beat, the manager looked up and said: “What do you think salespeople do? You are already doing what great salespeople do.”
Without giving away the best part of the story, this reluctant sales person became quite successful when he learned that sales wasn’t about manipulation, it’s about caring. Something he’d been doing all along. “I listened to the problems they were experiencing. I talked over how they thought their problems might best be solved and then helped them to do so.
“Succeeding in sales isn’t built on tips, tactics, tricks or secrets. It isn’t about persuasion techniques or influencing others. It isn’t about manipulation. It is about creating real value for others and caring enough to ensure they get the outcome they need. The reason I was successful obtaining the clients before I worked in sales was that I cared enough to help them get the outcome they needed.”
As a physician, surgeon or healthcare provider, you may not have aspired to being a rock star. But if you are among those individuals who have a dislike for “sales,” the reality isn’t far from what you do in caring for people and helping them solve their problems.