If you hear the word “sales” and immediately think of this guy, you’re setting yourself up for failure. I confess that I used to have the same mental association until I came across the following anonymous quote:
“Sales isn’t about a pitch. It’s about a search.”
For me, this was an eye-opening moment. A moment I realized that effective sales does not involve trying to push something on someone. Rather, it’s about a search for value. It’s about asking questions and determining if another person has value for what you’re offering. If they do, great. If they don’t, that’s fine too and I hope to leave our relationship in a better place than I found it. Taken more broadly, even getting your children to brush their teeth at night is sales: you’re trying to:
-get someone else to do something
-that they might not otherwise do
-that is actually in their best interest
There are a growing number of authors, Dan Pink and Jeff Gitomer among the most prominent, that put a very different spin on sales. In fact, the terms “non-sales selling” and “Give value first” are now entering the lexicon of American business, and for good reason. We veterinarians should take a lesson from these extremely successful businessmen and authors.
Jeff Gitomer, the author of “The Little Red Book of Selling” http://amzn.to/1nDFCUR, is one of my favorite business writers because he is about as far away from a “used car salesman” stereotype there is. He’s also a very eloquent speaker and talented writer. In a recent blog post (http://bit.ly/1QQbNcd) he wrote about a few of the best sales executives he’s ever worked with. One of the lessons he picked up along the way is something he called,
“... the Arthur H. “Red” Motley Principle: Nothing happens until somebody sells something. (Motley) sold for the Fuller Brush Company door to door in the 1920’s, he sold cough syrup with a traveling medicine show, he sold advertising for Collier’s Magazine, he founded Parade Magazine (still in existence today inserted into Sunday papers), and he created an (maybe THE) all time legendary philosophy of sales, “Nothing happens until somebody sells something.”
Gitomer goes on to point out that the key to Motley’s success in sales during the 40’s and 50’s, was a simple, 15-word sales rule which covered every element necessary to excel at sales:
- Know your product.
- See a lot of people.
- Ask all to buy.
- Use common sense.
We as veterinarians should follow this simple, sage advice. We all know our products, even though it can be a challenge to keep up to date with all the new variations in heartworm/flea/tick preventatives that seem to come out every 6 months. We also see a lot of people every week, and there’s no group of people with more common sense than veterinarians.
Are you being an advocate for your patient?
Where we sometimes fall down is the “Ask all to buy” rule. I take this to mean that we should be making recommendations to clients based on best medical practices in each and every interaction. As one of my mentors frequently puts it: Are you being an advocate for your patient? If you believe in pre-operative screening lab work, then recommend it in every case. If you hear a murmur in a cat, does the cost of the echo factor into your decision to refer? It shouldn’t. Don’t prejudge your clients and don’t feel guilty about making a recommendation that is based on a particular patient’s best interest. If you do that, you’d be surprised how many of those empty appointment slots will fill in.