I was recently invited to be a guest on the Female Physician Entrepreneurs podcast to speak about the top three mistakes to avoid when trying to sell as a healthcare professional.
The topic is so important, I wanted to share my thoughts with you here as well.
This will be especially relevant to you if:
· You are a sales rep in the Functional Medicine industry, and you want to help your clients (healthcare professionals) thrive in their practices.
- OR -
· You are a healthcare professional and you want to fill your practice with patients you love (and/or sell more top-quality products that help your patients achieve their health goals).
So here are the top three mistakes to avoid in sales as healthcare professionals – and what to do instead:
1. Selling the process rather than the outcome
This distinction is subtle but monumental. As a healthcare practitioner, you’re passionate about how to create optimal health for your patients. You’ve studied various modalities and the nerd in you has a field day when you can talk about how those modalities help reverse chronic health conditions.
There’s just one problem: your prospective patients glaze over when you start explaining it all. They can’t connect the dots between the scientific, process-oriented stuff you’re talking about, and how they want to feel.
For example: imagine a patient named Amy comes to you because she wants to lose 20 pounds. She’s tried every diet under the sun, and nothing seems to work. You’re excited to help her. You know it may be a thyroid issue, or inefficient detoxification, or maybe even dysbiosis.
You explain how all these different systems work. In your mind, you know that each of these systems impacts weight loss. But Amy just feels overwhelmed about these different possibilities, and she doesn’t see how it relates to the outcome she wants, which is just to feel good in her body and achieve a healthy weight.
What to do instead: focus on the outcome. Tell Amy a story about how you helped a patient named Mary. Tell Amy about the struggles that Mary had with weight loss before coming to you, and how your individualized approach helped Mary reach a healthy weight where all the other diets she’d tried had failed. Not only that, tell Amy what Mary was able to do and feel as a result of the weight loss she achieved.
2. Telling and talking before asking and listening
Even if you have the most incredible, earth-shattering program under the sun, please avoid the temptation to launch into a monologue about what you offer.
I’m sure you’ve heard the expression, “People don’t care how much you know, until they know how much you care.” Your patients need to know that you care about their particular health concerns and goals. And you don’t want to waste time describing features and benefits that aren’t relevant to the patient.
In other words, ask your prospective patient questions to understand what’s important to them, what they’ve tried before, what works and doesn’t work for them, etc.
An (oversimplified) example: imagine you have a prospective patient Susan who suffers from migraines. You launch into telling Susan about your group program for hormone balancing, which helped one woman in the group resolve her migraines. Susan tunes out, because she’s been tracking her migraines for years and she knows there’s no connection to her hormonal cycle. She wishes you had asked her what she’s tried so far.
What to do instead: ask thoughtful questions first. It’s well and good to anticipate the cause of a patient’s complaints but start by asking questions to fully understand their situation.
In Susan’s case, you would ask her what she’s tried so far, what seems to trigger the migraines, what was happening in her life when they first started, and so on. She will feel that you care about her particular plight, and you will speak in relevant terms when you tell her how you can help her.
3. Selling one-offs rather than bundles and programs
Most health concerns require more than one nutritional supplement, or one office visit. You do a disservice to your patients when you offer the one-off sale of a single product or a single session, because they’ll have one foot in the door and the other out on the curb: they’re halfway in but not far enough enjoy true benefits.
For example: imagine you have a patient, Mark, who suffers from insomnia. It’ll take time and lab work to understand the true cause of his insomnia, but in the meantime you want to bring him immediate relief. You recommend magnesium because magnesium is key to relaxation and sleep. But magnesium alone doesn’t do the trick.
What to do instead: offer a “sleep bundle” of magnesium plus a sleep formula, at a combined price that would be lower than buying the two separately. By taking both products in the bundle, Mark is finally able to sleep and he saves money straight away rather than trying one product, then another. Plus you've added more revenue to your practice.
One more example: you have a client who needs health coaching in order to make effective lifestyle changes. You charge the client on a session-by-session basis. This works ok at first, but the client has no feeling of commitment, because there’s no “finish line” in sight. When the lifestyle changes become challenging (as they’re likely to do), your client starts canceling on sessions because they feel embarrassed about not following through.
What to do instead: create a program with a specific number of sessions that your client commits to. This results in more commitment from the client, with a “finish line” in sight that will pull them toward their goals. The bundled sessions should also be priced lower than the client would have paid for the same number of sessions individually. You end up with more revenue in your practice, and less attrition.
What other well-intentioned mistakes have you made (or experienced) when it comes to sales in the healthcare profession? Feel free to add them below.