There is an old adage in sales that one can never have too much credibility. This is especially true in hospital sales where the “the new normal’ is for sellers that can provide proven measurable value. Think of credibility as building a bank account. You constantly have to keep making credibility deposits because one day you will be required to make some withdrawals. This is often the situation when the new product fails out-of-the box; the invoice is incorrect or there is a product recall.
Credibility must be built gradually over time. Sellers can build credibility by doing very simple things. Here are 12 easy ways to do so.
1. Play by the rules
All hospitals have specific rules, regulations or policies that outline vendor requirements for access, interaction and credentialing. Ignorance is not bliss. It’s your job to learn their rules and abide by them.
2. Avoid the sales “stereotype”
To be treated seriously you have to portray a professional image. Be appropriate in your dress and be well groomed. Be courteous and respectful of everyone. Ask questions and listen. Resist the urge to pitch your product or solution until you have earned the right to do so. Remember people don’t buy products they buy solutions to business issues.
3. Be prepared for every sales call or meeting
Preparation leads to better client encounters. This starts by carefully planning your sales call or meeting. If it’s a sales call… develop a call plan, keeping in mind that all call plans are built around addressing the customer’s needs and/or pain points Yes, I know that it takes a few minutes. It also shows that you’re attentive, serious, planned and professional. If it’s a meeting prepare an agenda and get input from the client before finalizing it. Verifying the meeting and participants in advance will afford you the opportunity to prepare and address individual and collective concerns – it’s what professionals do. Remember in every client encounter you are asking for their professional time and it’s expensive. Make it worth their while to want to meet with you.
4. Be on time- for every client encounter
Make a habit of being early for every client encounter. It shows respect, it demonstrates that you are a professional and it gets noticed if done repeatedly. If you’re going to be giving a presentation not only does getting there early give you a moment to check out the AV equipment and room size, it also affords you the opportunity to greet the participants as they arrive, engage in some pre-meeting small talk to build comfort and rapport, and compose your thoughts before you begin. Your customers will notice it and you will stand out from the crowd.
If you’re going to be late call the customer and tell them. Offer to re-schedule the meeting if they cannot accommodate your new arrival time. Turn an unforeseen problem into a relationship builder.
5. Ask don’t tell
Be sure your questions are insightful and are designed to provide both the quality and quantity of information that will help you move the sale forward. Repeated questions that can be answered with a simple “yes or no” often appear as an interrogation and not a conversation. These types of questions and those that could have been answered by reading their web site do not provide credibility.
6. Listen carefully, think purposefully and respond properly
Nothing builds credibility faster than being a great listener. It takes a lot of listening to make the right recommendation for the customer. When asked a question pause for a few seconds to ponder a thoughtful, insightful and carefully worded response and then respond in a positive and professional manner.
7. Provide insights based on research and analysis
Adding insight and depth of knowledge to a conversation creates credibility.
8. Be able to provide hard evidence
If you make a statement; be prepared to offer a proof source. This could be a research report, case study, customer testimonial, white paper, peer review paper, recent regulation from congress etc. Whatever the source be ready to provide it and do it electronically. We now live in a digital world.:
9. Make recommendations that are in the best interest of the hospital
We all want the sale today for all of the obvious reasons. Build credibility by always thinking long range and in terms of building a solid relationship and not short term and a quick commission. In sales relationships matter!
10. Follow-up on action items
This means being responsive to their requests; ensuring timeliness, accuracy and completeness. Don’t simply delegate the response and walk away. Your clients are watching your behaviors all the time. You are responsible….accept it.
11. Deliver on promises
If you promise it, deliver it and on time. Better yet deliver it before your deadline.
12. Admit mistakes and correct them promptly
Mistakes are inevitable. Whether it’s the wrong product that was delivered, the wrong quantity, an out-of-box failure or an inaccurate invoice you are perceived as being responsible for the problem and the solution. When mistakes happen admit the problem, show empathy for the problem it has caused the customer, resolve the problem and then tell the customer what actions your organization has taken to prevent its re-occurrence.
Establishing credibility is your job and it takes time and thoughtful consideration. Never assume that you have credibility. Instead plan carefully and attentively in how you will earn it on every sales call and in every meeting with every person that you encounter.
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