I bought my first car from a used car dealership that prided itself on feeding meat to an aquarium full of piranha every afternoon at 4 p.m. It was chilling and creepy. So we thought we could write a piece about the worst sales practices by looking at used car salesmen/women. What we found from the used car associates at Auto Raptor were tips that also work for selling high-end medical equipment and devices, or disposables and parts online. These are the tips we picked up and translated into medical marketing speak.
1. Get customer names upfront and remember them
Ever notice how some salespeople repeat your name over and over? Pet peeve: reps that parrot back the doctor's name over and over again. They're trying to burn that name into their brains, but it often comes off as flattery. Whether you picture the physician's face on pumpkin or give him a room in your imaginary memory palace, find a name-retention strategy that works for you. As Dale Carnegie said in How to Win Friends and Influence People, "Remember that a person's name is, to that person, the sweetest and most important sound in any language."
2. Listen more than you talk
This one is tough, especially for the extroverted types attracted to sales. Experts recommend listening for twice as long in a meeting than you talk. Test yourself. What did you learn from the doctor during a sales call? What did she say? What did she do? What's on the wall? Family photos, camping trips, charity events? Being there, and taking this all in is the bedrock of rapport.
A recent study showed that the percentage of time speaking by an average salesperson was well over 50% of the meeting time, sometimes as high as 70%, while top performers are the exact opposite. They listen for more than half of the time.
Plus, all those tidbits you picked up during the meeting can fuel a compelling, personalized proposal.
3. Look customers in the eye (but don't be weird about it)
Connect with doctors by looking them directly in the eye. It projects confidence and openness. Be careful, though, locked-on eye contact can seem condescending and aggressive. Aim to make eye contact about 30-60% of the time during a conversation — more when listening, less when speaking.
4. Be patient, not pushy
Purchasing a car or a mass spectrometer is a big decision. Don't let doctors see your eagerness and impatience to close the sale. People who feel pressured might show you out, and click or call to another manufacturer.
5. Know your stuff
Marketing medical devices can be complicated. Your job is to translate that complexity into easily understood soundbites. Know your buyer. Is she fascinated by the physics and engineering behind your medical device, or is she driven top provide better surgical outcomes for her patients?
6. Don't throw shade on the competition
If a doctor tells you about a negative experience they had at another medical company, don't go negative. Acknowledge their feelings but hold up on trash-talking the competition. At the same time your dissing the bad guys, you're cementing that company's brand name into your customer's mind.
7. Don't tell customers what they want to hear
Yes, we found this in advice to used car salesman! Your word is your bond. Making promises you can't keep will damage your credibility. Be straight about terms, delivery dates, maintenance schedules, installation times, and, of course, the price. Even if it's not what a doctor wants to hear, he'll respect you as a straight shooter.
8. Keep your desk clean
When we buy expensive things, we want to know that the people we're buying them from are organized and smart. A clean and orderly workspace, or car for lunch meetings, inspires trust. Also, add these notes to self: personal hygiene, check; clean stain-free clothes, check; and, for the out to lunch crowd, make your car as clean as your desk.
9. Do unto others
Apply the Golden Rule. Think about how you would prefer to be treated in a sales situation and do the same for the next receptionist, physician, or corporate buyer you meet. More return customers and referrals will soon come your way.
10. Follow up
Doctors expect to hear from you after a meeting, call, or purchase. They also want it quickly. Are you using e-commerce to distribute medical devices, equipment, or parts? Amazon sets the benchmarks on online service, not the healthcare industry. In other words, fast! Think "NAME OF YOUR COMPANY + Prime." Respond to inquiries on social media or from email within the hour. If you can't follow-up like that by phone or email send a quick note explaining when you can deliver the remaining information. This step paves the way for future sales and referrals.
Follow these tips, and who knows, you might become Employee of the Month and get to feed the piranhas.