Darrell Bradshaw is the southeast regional vice president at Golden Technologies. For more information, visit goldentech.com.
Many people think that selling is difficult, frustrating, scary or even tiresome to master. The art of selling is none of these things, but it can be if we allow our negative emotions or stereotypes to be at the forefront of our interactions with patients or customers. The truth is, selling can absolutely be easy, fun, enjoyable and rewarding. All you have to do is change the way you think about the process, and you will have a new perspective on customer interactions. I have been in many home medical equipment stores (HMEs) and observed the sales process, and I have talked to many HME salespeople about how they sell. The verdict is that most salespeople in the medical world are better than they realize, and this article may help you to see that not only are you good, but you are also providing a huge and necessary service to your customers.
To really understand this—and to get that better perspective—let’s take a look at a few basics.
First, what is sales? Some people have the mistaken idea that making the sale is about aggressively pushing a customer into making a purchase while making as much money as possible. That is not selling—that is manipulation. On the other side of the spectrum, some people believe that selling is just waiting around for a customer to independently select a product to bring to the register and pay. That is just being lazy. In reality, true selling (like so many other things in life), is somewhere in the middle.
1. Put on Your Educator Hat
In an HME store, a salesperson is not just a salesperson. An HME salesperson, often wears many hats. The first hat that an HME salesperson needs to wear is that of an educator. When a customer comes into an HME store, they most often need education about the products they will be using. This is really what sales is all about. An HME sale is always more about educating the customer than it is about anything else. With HME products, the patient needs more education than for nearly any other type of purchase. It is necessary for an HME salesperson to be able to teach and instruct the customer in the use of the products they sale. They should be able to do this well, and they must also know how to use each product properly in order to do so. Beyond this, an HME salesperson should also know the related products that could help improve the quality of life for the customer they are educating. For example, if a customer comes in to purchase a lift chair, do you also explain the need for a raised toilet seat and grab bars for the bathroom? The patient needs to be able to stand in every room, and they will not have the lift chair in the bathroom. As an HME salesperson, you have the ability to add quality to the life of your customers, but that is only going to be true if you educate them on all of the products they might need.
2. Put on Your Encourager Hat
The second hat that an HME salesperson wears is that of a counselor and encourager. The word encourage simply means to “instill courage” in another person, and it is absolutely necessary to have this as part of your sales process. Many times an HME customer needs a little encouragement, and not just as it relates to a product or a service you offer. If a customer is in your store, they are most likely facing a medical difficulty. It can be very disheartening and even depressing to have several ailments and to feel lost in how to get the help that’s needed to continue being as active as possible. By truly encouraging the customer on a personal level, you will build a relationship, help with their needs and allow them to feel positive emotions during a potentially mundane errand. This small gesture will mean the world to someone seeking that extra bit of reassurance. And, yes, it helps you to make the sale. Every good salesperson has their heart in their work. This is another reason I say that HME salespeople are some of the best.
3 .Put on Your Assistant Hat
The third hat is the hat of an assistant. When a product is selected, it is not just enough to educate or encourage. It is imperative to assist by demonstrating and serving. Assisting is not just educating—it involves hands-on training.
Many of you may be thinking, “I already do all of these things.” Plenty of the HME salespeople I see are very good and just don’t know it. But, don’t rest. Keep honing the skills of wearing the above-mentioned three hats. One great step to take is to constantly evaluate yourself on each sale. Ask yourself: Which hats did I wear? Did I help in each area of educator, encourager and assistant? Only you can really answer that, and only you can honestly see how each area could be a little better on the next sale.