The Simple Secret of “Selling Softly.” For Doctors Who Hate to Sell

In a completely unscientific estimate, roughly nine out of 10 doctors would probably say they hate “selling” in healthcare.

At a minimum, it’s not what doctors are trained to do. And, more critically, they believe that sales is a sleazy, manipulative and difficult process intended to strong-arm people into paying for something they don’t need or want. (And as a bonus, the hapless buyer/victim will be filled with regret, if not outright anger.)

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It’s a common perception, and the degree of distain varies by individual. For that matter, we know many doctors who are skilled at “selling,” although that’s not how the best of them think about the process.

The difference is largely a matter of your mindset and attitude. In fact, one of the best and most successful sales people I know—a professional colleague in healthcare marketing and advertising—doesn’t like selling either.

Her secret? She simply looks for opportunities that people are open to that matchup with services she can provide. There’s no pressure. She’s trained herself to identify an individual’s needs and introduces an answer that fills the need.

There’s far more mutual satisfaction in finding people who are looking for products or services—and delivering a solution—than in convincing someone to “buy something” that they didn’t want. It’s simple enough; and in many respects, it’s a fairly obvious concept. Selling is helping.

And doctors have a head start advantage…

Doctors are in the business of helping people. Dozens of individuals with problems present themselves each day to physicians and surgeons. This parade of patients is anxiously seeking, and totally open to, an answer to their need. Focus on identifying their essential and human needs. (Hint: They’re not there to buy a procedure or device. That’s process, not benefit.)

“Sales” is not a matter of getting patients to “buy,” but rather it is presenting a product or service that delivers what they want. And ultimately, the one and only reason that people buy healthcare is they want a solution. People “shop” for some greater wellbeing for themselves.

They may need your guidance and direction. You may have to interpret how a medical procedure or medication will provide benefits. But what the patient is buying is happiness, and you are showing them the means.

Let go of your mental image of a used car salesman’s hardcore hustle—and pushing what he wants to sell. Discover opportunities to present solutions.

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Stewart Gandolf, MBA

Stewart Gandolf
Chief Executive Officer & Creative Director at Healthcare Success
Over the years Stewart has personally marketed and consulted for over 1,457 healthcare clients, ranging from private practices to multi-billion dollar corporations. Additionally, he has marketed a variety of America’s leading companies, including Citicorp, J. Walter Thompson, Grubb & Ellis, Bally Total Fitness, Wells Fargo and Chase Manhattan. Stewart co-founded our company, and today acts as Chief Executive Officer and Creative Director. He is also a frequent author and speaker on the topic of healthcare marketing. His personal accomplishments are supported by a loving wife and two beautiful daughters.

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