Are we too focused on the number of calls we need to make each week, on reaching the right numbers, selling our quotas and meeting quarterly goals? In
by Louis Feuer, ma, msw

Are we too focused on the number of calls we need to make each
week, on reaching the right numbers, selling our quotas and meeting
quarterly goals? In other words, are we only about selling

Maybe that's our problem.

We keep hearing the voice of the sales manager in our heads,
telling us to get the orders, move the products, increase the sales
— on and on and on! What we don't hear anyone ask of us is to
build relationships, enhance our networking and meet new health
care professionals.

We may be so focused on the numbers that we fail to see what
actually helps us reach those numbers. So let's stop selling and
take a new approach: Ask yourself, “Of the people I met for
the first time last week, who could become a customer?”

Stop worrying about what deals you are going to close next.
Instead, start building relationships and learning more about your
potential customers. Consider the following five important
relationship-building strategies that just may lead to that next

  1. Learn about the work of your professional customers. Too
    often we spend time with someone we think could become a customer,
    only to find that they have little interest in the products we

    You may find that although you came to talk to a social worker
    or a nurse about one product, they are really interested in
    something else. All the patients the social worker meets may need
    your products and services, or the case management nurse may only
    work with a select group of diabetic patients.

  2. Learn about the kinds of patients the potential referral
    source works with and the major clinical issues and challenges
    those patients face
    . Does your customer work with patients with
    a particular illness or diagnosis? Are their patients being treated
    by physicians you know?

    Do their patients go to treatment centers or rehab clinics that
    you also work with? The more you understand their customers, the
    better able you will be to help your own.

  3. Decide what products and services you can provide that will
    meet their needs
    . While you are listening to your customer, put
    your thinking cap on: What do you have in your store, warehouse, or
    can you otherwise access that will meet his or her needs?

    The goal is not necessarily to tell them about everything you do
    and see, but to talk about the products that would be of interest
    to them in their work with patients.

  4. Get to know the lifestyle, work environment and business
    stressors of your products' end-users
    . The more you know about
    your patients/end-users the better able you will be to meet their
    needs. You may want to attend clinical conferences on specific
    diagnoses or go to staffing conferences to increase your medical

    Take time to read about key diseases, treatment plans and the
    meanings of clinical and medical terms used when discussing the
    care of particular patients. Some of the best education can come
    from the respiratory therapists and clinicians working within your
    own company.

  5. Take time to gain an understanding of the customer's
    . Talk with the customer about what is important to
    them. Ask referral sources what their most important concerns are
    when they are working with a home care company and what challenges
    they have faced with other companies.

Remember to focus on finding ways to share the message about
your services and programs — and not just to sell them. You
want people to know that you are different and unique but, most
important, you want customers to get to know you, respect you and
appreciate the quality of the products and services you offer.

Think more about building the business relationship and setting
the groundwork for a positive rapport rather than focusing upon
what kind of business the account can generate.

Stop selling! As a former customer, I can tell you it all sounds
like something we've heard before. Get to know your customer, and
he or she will be more apt to want to get to know you. Your great
work will ultimately sell itself.

Louis Feuer is president of Dynamic Seminars & Consulting
Inc. and the founder and director of the DSC Teleconference Series,
a teleconference training program. He can be reached at or by phone at