My Medical Device Sales Career
What would you say if I asked your opinion on the heart of selling? In other words, of all the things we do in our roles as sales professionals, what is the true essence of what we do? Simply put, selling is soliciting a decision by and a commitment from our customers to use the product(s) we represent.
Several years ago I was training a group of relatively new sales people. Most of them came from a clinical background. Providing education, either for patients or clients, was a big part of their past professional lives. Providing education was the approach they were comfortable with and they carried that forward into their day to day selling style. The problem was, and is, educating customers is not selling.
We discussed a simple fix to the issue of educating versus selling. The answer was to ask the question: “Now that you’re aware of the information, what will you do as a result?” We needed to cause a decision to be made and a commitment to be solidified.
Alright, you’re likely smiling and saying “I’m way beyond that – I don’t fall into that trap.” Really? Are you 100% certain? I’ll bet it sneaks up on you when you’re not expecting it.
Consider comparing and contrasting your product versus a competitor. It’s way too easy to fall into a side-by-side comparison that includes a bunch of fancy facts and figures. Discussions can begin to wander off into the realm of anecdotes and previous experiences. After awhile the time gets short and the call nears its conclusion. “OK then, what are the next steps?” Huh? Did we just slip past the moment of decision and commitment? Next steps on what? Hmmm….
How can we avoid missed opportunities like that? One method is the consistent use of trial closes. Sprinkle them into the conversation at every opportunity. You need to confirm where your customer stands and what they are thinking. Gaining positive responses to trial closes naturally leads to the close, so we’re less likely to miss the opportunity.
Another tactic is the consistent use of a pre-call plan. Oh great, now I'm beginning to sound “Corporate” right? Right! We all got trained and retrained on pre-call planning but how many consistently use it? Too busy? Don’t have time for that? Be honest with yourself and reflect back on your most recent calls. Have they been “educational” or did you cause your customer to make a decision and did you gain a commitment? By determining the specific decision you need to secure and the commitment you need from your customer - and by reviewing them right before your call, you are more likely to achieve them. It's the two minute plan for greater success. Everyone has at least two minutes.
This week, as you sally forth into the wide world of opportunities and fight the good fight, ensure that you are putting the odds of success in your favor. Bring your customers to a decision for your product. Gain their commitment and advances the sale. Close the business – it is the heart of selling.
By Kevin Onarecker