Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Medical Sales: The Practice of Habits, Part 2

Habit 1: Be Proactive 

By Rick Fromme

Photo Credit: rock.genius.com
There are many companies and business people today (especially in medical sales), which erroneously think all they need do to be proactive when it comes to their customers is to launch a new touch marketing campaign, or worse, to call them back with a new sales offer.  Wrong! 

Read on, and learn more about what being proactive with customers really means. 

As the esteemed, late Dr. Stephen Covey pointed out in his landmark international best-seller, “The 7 Habits of Highly Effectively People,” being proactive requires a paradigm shift in mindset, behavior and for organizations, strategies.  Being proactive means “that as human beings, we are responsible for our own lives.  Our behavior is a function of our decision, not our conditions.  We can subordinate feelings to values. We have the initiative and the responsibility to make things happen.” 

Photo Credit: n2growth.com
Dr. Covey, in further explaining the nature of being proactive, states that our basic nature is to act, versus being acted upon.   As applied to customer service, this means it’s really all about reaching out to the customer to solve their problems, or answer their questions, before they even know they have them.  This is exactly why proactive customer service starts not with a new marketing campaign, or a new sales offer, but with a change in mindset, behavior and strategies.

Last summer, inContact issued a customer service survey.  The study, conducted online by Harris Interactive, on behalf of inContact, surveyed 2,034 U.S. adults aged 18 years or older.  Here’s a summary of its main findings:
  • 87% said they want to be contacted proactively by a company;  
  • However, one of the major hindrances to being more proactive in customer service is the initial pause or delay that can often occur when traditional legacy predictive dialers are used in call centers;
Photo Credit: jsainterinteractive.com
  • The most popular reasons for wanting to be contacted included: fraudulent activity on their account (65%); setting appointments or reminders (53%); and questions about an order they placed (51%);
  • Nearly three quarters (73%) of those who had a pleasant surprise or positive experience with a proactive customer service call report they had a positive change in their perception of the business calling them; and
  • 62% of those who had a pleasant surprise or positive experience with a proactive customer service call have taken an action as a result of that positive experience.
“Businesses, community groups, organizations of every kind ― including families ― can be proactive,” Dr. Covey states. “They can combine the creativity and resourcefulness of proactive individuals to create a proactive culture within the organization.” 

Let’s say you’re a medical device salesperson.  Imagine this scenario: 

Photo Credit: msha.com
A month ago, you'd called upon a potential client, hoping to sell them a major piece of capital medical equipment (see my earlier blog, “ Successful Medical Device Sales: How to Uncover Your Prospects’ Pain to Get Them to Buy.”)  As result of your efforts, you closed the deal ― congratulations! ― and the piece of equipment they’d purchased was delivered to them last week.   To be truly proactive, you could do several things:
  •  Upon closing the sale and procuring delivery arrangements, you would’ve sent your new client (note, they’re no longer a prospective customer) a “Thank You” note for making the purchase and reiterating that you (and the equipment’s manufacturer and/or distributor) will be there to answer any questions they may have.
  • Call the client to ensure the delivery and set up went ok.  Or, even better, you would’ve arranged to be at the facility when the equipment was actually arriving to assist with the delivery and set up. At least, monitor its progress on site.  
Photo Credit: tambabay.com
  • Arrange an appointment for you and, if necessary, a customer service representative from the equipment manufacturer or distributor to be on-site to help train your new client’s staff, offering  assistance as to how to properly operate, utilize in a clinical setting, care for, and maintain the equipment.
  • Put your new client in touch with other facility’s key personnel who are more experienced in using the new piece of equipment to help them with any questions, issues, etc. 
  • Keep your new client updated on any new software, firmware, upgrades, changes and or developments pertaining to the equipment they purchased. 
  • Set up regularly scheduled conference calls to address any concerns, questions, or issues they may have.
Photo Credit: intuitivesurgical.com
  • If applicable, provide necessary information (photos, literature, PowerPoint presentations, boilerplate press releases, marketing points, etc.) to assist your new client in its efforts to advertise its acquisition of the new piece of equipment. 
  • Provide your new client with testimonials from clinical staff and patients who’ve had a positive experience with the piece of equipment (videos, handwritten letters, department heads’ comments, etc.) 
  • Keep the client informed about on any new products this manufacturer (or others) have developed that will also benefit their facility. 
I’m certain if you thought about it even further, you’d be able to generate even more ideas on how to offer proactive customer services to your new client.  Why not schedule a sales meeting/brainstorm session to come up with even more ideas?

Photo Credit: lifetothefullest.com
In general, most customers want to be helped and appreciated; they don’t want to be sold to.  If you’re a company or individual sales representative that’s never done any proactive customer service or helping before (i.e., calling a customer to see if everything is all right, or to see if they are having any problems) but have only ever tried to call your customers to sell them something, then you need to make some behavioral paradigm shifts in order to alter your clients’ perceptions about you.

As Dr. Covey points out, individual human beings and organizational entities (businesses, community groups, families, etc.) are capable of can change and can thereby alter the way people think about us by what we do and how we do it.  This change can take time and conscious effort.  But in the long run, its dividends will be worth it.  “Knowing that we are responsible ― “response-able” ― is fundamental to effectiveness and to every other habit of effectiveness …” 

By helping your customers more, they will appreciate you more, trust you more, talk positively about you more, and buy from you more.  How’s that for being proactive?

 MedMasters' Testimonial

Oriented towards providing expert customer service in the medical sales industry, in this article, I discussed Habit 1 from Dr. Stephen Covey’s “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People,” namely, Be Proactive.  I talked about what being proactive is and what it’s not, particularly when pertaining to sales.  I also offered several different ways one might be proactive after selling a piece of capital medical equipment to a client. If you found it interesting and useful, please share it with your colleagues and friends.  As always, I’m eager to read your comments and questions below.

Rick Fromme combines entrepreneurial enthusiasm with an insider's knowledge of the medical industry to co-found MedMasters.com. Both his drive and perspective helps provide health care professionals with a superior mechanism with which to communicate, network and market their strengths. Prior to founding MedMasters.com, Rick operated a highly successful medical device distributorship. Other milestones in his 12-year career in the medical industry include a key position at a medical device start-up company that was later sold to the Ethicon Endo division of Johnson & Johnson. You may also reach Rick by connecting with him on FacebookTwitterGoogle+LinkedIn and YouTube.

Related Articles 

Ten Commandments of Customer Service

What Does Excellent Service Mean?

What is Good Customer Service?

15 Customer Service Skills That Every Employee Needs

Stephen Covey's Website

The Difference Between Proactive and Reactive Sales

Book by Franklin/Covey: "Let's Get Real or Let's Not Play -- Transforming the Buyer/Seller Relationship"

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