By now you know that being in private practice makes you a business person; and being a business person makes you a sales person. Good or bad, like it or not — that’s the way it rolls out.
Given my experience I believe it is safe to say that not a whole lot of people in this world embrace the idea of “sales”. In fact, I’ve found that health professionals in general tend to have a HUGE aversion to the idea.
That’s why I’d like to help reframe this idea of “sales” so you can see it for what it really is — a way to help more people.
When you go out to meet new referral sources (“customers”), you will likely tell them all about your practice and the work you do. I can think of three possible responses to that type of encounter. Let’s take a look at each of them…
1. The customer says YES!
Great outcome, right? You just need to be sure not to drop the ball. A “YES” is your chance to prove yourself — a chance to let the customer know that s/he made a great decision
2. The customer does nothing
You do what you do — let the customer know just how much you want to help and how you are the person for the job. Things seem great in the moment, but then you never get a referral; you never hear from that customer again.
Believe it or not, this outcome is more difficult to manage than a “NO”. In fact, it is a “Silent NO”; it’s the elephant in the living room. It looms large, but no one is talking about it.
Your job is to expose the elephant. There are many reasons you might not be getting referrals from this customer. It is now your task to find out why. Is it simply that the customer has not heard enough from and/or about you yet? (It can’t hurt to recify that and see what happens) Might the customer have other business relationships that s/he feels might be jeopardized by doing business with you? (Perhaps you need to find a way to let the customer know that you are able and willing to play nice in the sandbox.)
3. The customer says “NO”
The customer who comes right out and says “NO” out loud is my favorite. You’ll find that if you can turn this customer around, s/he is usually very loyal and consistent.
The customer who says “NO” (like the customer who does nothing) may just need more attention and information before s/he reaches a comfort level to send clients your way. Most times however, this client has objections that, left unaddressed, will prohibit you from ever doing business together.
Even if sales may not be in your comfort zone, if you want to pursue this referral source your are going to have to man up here and find out what objection(s) your customer might have. Usually, the louder someone objects, the more they are “afraid”. Is your customer afraid: you are not reliabile; you are not competent; you lack experience; you may not collaborate well; referring to you will take a lot of work; others in the organization might object?
Find out the objections behind the “NO” and turn them into opportunities to better educate your customers and get the exposure you need to eventually attend to their concerns and get the business you require.
You’ve just got to have…