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Diagnosing the root cause

It isn’t just for Functional Medicine practitioners



If you lead a sales team in the nutraceutical industry, you appreciate the profound impact that Functional Medicine can have on the lives of the patients it serves. You know the value of root-cause healthcare and how your company’s products help to resolve complex health issues (probably even from personal experience).


But have you stopped to consider the value of taking a root-cause approach… not just in healthcare, but in your team’s own sales engagements? Is your sales team rushing to get products on your customers’ shelves (i.e. prescribing a product) without first understanding (i.e. diagnosing) the customers’ business challenges?


What the root cause looks like in sales

Sure, your team member Mary can make a quick sale of probiotics to Dr. Jane Smith, who specializes in digestive health. But if Mary doesn’t understand the greater context of the Dr. Jane’s business goals and challenges, that quick sale will be a one-and-done scenario. It won’t develop into a source of recurring revenue that grows over time.


Imagine instead that Mary takes the time to understand Dr. Jane’s business challenges. For example, does Mary know what percentage of Dr. Jane’s overall revenue is represented by supplement sales? Does Mary know what Dr. Jane wants that percentage to be, vs what it actually is?


If supplement sales are falling short of the Dr. Jane’s goals for her practice, what is the reason? Is expired product collecting dust on the shelves? Or, conversely, does she lack a system for inventory management that would help her reorder before her current supply runs out? Does Dr. Jane need marketing materials to convey the value of the products to her patients? Does Dr. Jane need to carve out time for discussing supplements during patient visits? Something else? Once Mary understands what’s missing or problematic, she has gotten to the root cause, which she can then help address.


The benefits of taking a root cause approach

By helping to identify the root cause of Dr. Jane’s business challenges, Mary achieves three main things:

  • Mary has become a problem-solver for Dr. Jane, not just a product-pusher

  • Dr. Jane now has the ability to reach her goals for supplement sales in her practice (which also means she will re-order in growing quantities in the future)

  • Mary has now created a relationship built on trust, where she can lead Dr. Jane to envision greater possibilities for her practice in the future


A good dose of medicine

The beauty of functional medicine lies in the focus on getting to the root cause of an ailment rather than blindly prescribing medication to mask the symptoms. The same ailment in two different patients could have two completely different causes, necessitating two different remedies. But across all types of medicine, writing a prescription without performing an accurate diagnosis amounts to malpractice.


Consider the same value of diagnosis for your sales team. If they prioritize diagnosis (of business challenges) before writing a prescription (pitching a product), you would see a massive uptick in loyal customers, recurring revenue, and triple wins - for company, customer, and individual contributor. Now that’s a good dose of the industry's own medicine!


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