Have you ever had a great teacher? They often share certain attributes. They inspire, make difficult subjects easy to understand, and even change the lives of their students. We tend to revere our teachers much like a patient does a physician. We believe that they have studied the subject matter they are teaching us and are an authority on the matter. Great sales professionals have those same characteristics.
When an outstanding sales person tells you about their product or service, they are able to assess your engagement with the information they share. If you seem unengaged or unimpressed, they will modify their delivery in an attempt to regain your attention. It’s not a mind trick or some otherwise inappropriate sales technique. In simplest terms, it’s teaching. The reason they are able to lead you to a place of acceptance, agreement, or persuasion is because they are able to teach you about the benefits of what they offer.
Those same principles find a perfect home for sales and marketing in a physician referral-based industry. A doctor simply isn’t going to spend any real measure of time staying up-to-date on the products and services you can provide, even if it’s extremely beneficial to his or her patients. You have to understand the benefits of what you offer and educate the physician, discharge planner, or referral source on how it is relevant to them and their patients.
Here is a list of a few of the characteristics that make a great teacher and how that relates to sales.
1. A great teacher makes the subject relevant to students.
It’s great that you have developed a balance program that is unique and relevant, but how do you make that resonate with a referral source? A physician is more likely to care that you can prevent her patient from falling, give her patient’s family peace of mind, or keep her patient out of the hospital. Are you educating about what matters to your referral sources or showing what you can do? It is really not about you, it's about them. If you can make the subject matter to them, they will retain it and perhaps take it into consideration when making a referral decision.
2. A great teacher makes even their most difficult student feel important.
Do your referral sources feel important? Thinking back to your best teachers, did you feel like you mattered to them? They are not just another way to put numbers on your paycheck, but people who make a positive impact on your community. One of the biggest mistakes a sales person can make is to make a potential client feel like they are “just another referral source.” By not making them feel important or, worse yet, not actually understanding their importance, you make it much harder to refer to you. By treating them as a valuable partner in care, they will inevitably feel responsible to work with you for their patients’ well being.
3. A great teacher is willing to put in the effort and time to deliver a great learning experience.
A great teacher rarely works from 8:30 a.m. to 4:00 p.m., but instead works well beyond those hours to create a memorable experience. While I’m not advocating for ceaseless work, I am advocating for more than the stereotypical "9-to-5" many sales reps offer. Patients need care all hours of the day and night. Let your referral sources call you after hours and have a plan in place to take care of a last-minute patient. Even just taking the time to preplan your sales calls so as not to waste your referral sources’ time can set you apart from many of your competitors.
Teachers are often unsung heroes that impact the lives of their students years after teaching them. Learning from them is fundamental to becoming a great sales person. Remember, all great teachers were once students, too!