My Medical Device Sales Career
Have you ever dealt with customers who simply don’t get it? You know the ones I’m talking about. Although you try your best by presenting your most dazzling features and benefits, they don’t respond correctly. They fail to purchase or take the next logical step along the decision path like all the others. For some reason they seem to have their own reasons and rational for buying. What are they thinking? Moreover, how can you sell to them?
Many years ago I was part of a new product launch – a topical corticosteroid. Boy was I excited! I told my wife that I would see her on the weekend but until then, don’t expect me home ‘cause I’m hitting the road and making my mark! I was dead set on being #1.
As I began working with my physicians I realized they simply didn’t get it. I presented all the reasons and rational for them to use my new product… and I did it with flair; with passion. I was really excited about my new product but they did not respond in kind.
Finally, out of sheer exasperation, I walked with one of my physicians over to the sample closet and asked: “Since you have so many choices, what causes you to pick a given product to use when you have a patient in need of a topical steroid?” What they said shocked me. Almost without fail, my physicians responded with “whatever I have the most samples of.”
Now, call me simple, but I then said “So, if I provide you more samples than anyone else, that means you’ll use this new product more than the others?” Their answer was “Yes!” That was all I needed to hear. Within the first three months I was the #1 salesman for this new product line. In reality, it was almost too easy.
Lest you think this approach only worked with topical steroids and huge piles of samples, it did not stop there. There were other examples, such as physicians wanting to be “fair.” Capitalizing on the concept of “fairness” enabled my team and I to capture the lead position within our organization for years.
What is the key here? Am I advocating unloading trunks full of samples or screaming “be fair” at everyone? No – that’s not the point. What I am advocating is finding their real motivation for doing what they do and tapping into it, even if that motivation is less than glorious. It sounds too easy to be true but I will guarantee you that it works and you’ll earn money using this approach.
This can be especially true in situations where you are selling a commoditized product. Don’t try to swim upstream by spewing all the facts, figures, features and benefits. Tap into what motivates them and gently sway them to your position.
What does this technique require to work well? Good probing skills and an open mind. You must probe effectively to uncover why they do what they do. And, when you discover their motivations, however kooky or mundane, you must be willing to follow along their path rather than trying to persuade them with the features and benefits you might otherwise want to employ.
Alright folks – think about it, conjure up some good probes and give this a shot. In the end I’ll bet you’ll find this approach to be very effective when other approaches were not. It’s definitely an arrow you should have in your quiver, or said another way, it should be part of your armamentarium.
Now, go forth, fight the good fight and create new and better customers. Good hunting!
By Kevin Onarecker