Apr 06 2009

HELPING DOCTORS SELLS DOCTORS!

No, believe it or not,

                                               

the doctor is not God!

                                                                                 

Having served many years counseling and consulting with doctors, and writing books for and about doctors, I was able to collect a wealth of insight about their personal lives and professional careers.

     Whether you’re a lawyer, insurance or investment broker, hospital executive, real estate agent, luxury car or boat representative, accountant, website development guru, upscale clothing marketer, hi-tech product marketer, quality restauranteur, travel agent, executive resort manager, pharmaceutical or medical product detail rep, If you market or sell to doctors, you can do a better job of it when you understand some of what I’m about to share with you. 

     Now I’m not talking about whatever you might think you know about doctors by watching ER or House or Gray’s Anatomy or old re-run episodes of Chicago Hope or Dr. Kildare for that matter. Those shows may look and feel authentic and realistic, but they’re not. They’re no more realistic than if you took your job and compressed all the highlights of the year into one maniacally-paced day!

     There’s nothing wrong with jam-packed storylines on TV as long as you don’t start believing that the other half actually lives as they’re portrayed. I mean I was a huge fan of “24” and Jack Bauer was the best, but in case you hadn’t noticed, he never slept or used the bathroom.

     No, I’m talking about down and dirty here. I’ve amassed tons of in-the-trenches input that I alone have had the unique opportunity to observe, listen, question and assimilate. Here’s some of what I learned:  

  •      Most of the twelve hundred or so doctors I’ve known well and have worked closely with would rather be, or rather have been something other than a doctor. With stress driving average physician life expectancy closer to 60 than to 80, many doctors struggle with keeping their personal lives in check and their family lives in balance.
  •      As definite and commited as most of us tend to think a physician’s career path might be, the truth is that many are not happy with shouldering the stressful burdens of professional medical practice. 
  •      This conclusion is not to imply any lack of dedication. It is simply an indication that even those physicians who lack exceptional skills or bedside manners do not deserve to be begrudged for the money they make (and they’re making a whole lot less these days, besides).
  •      So, what does this all have to do with selling to doctors? STOP thinking about selling your products and services to doctors. START thinking about how you can help doctors to save time. Time, to a physician, is money because she or he has no warehouse full of products.
  •      His or her time is all there is that can be packaged with the skill, experience and training. And, right, a doctor can only sell one package at a time!
  •      Having more time gives doctors more freedom to see more patients who need attention. Having more time lays the groundwork for doctors to strike a better balance with their families and gain increased control of their personal lives.
  •      In the process, they become happier. Happier doctors practice better more effective healthcare. Your doctor sales assignment: Figure out how to save your doctor prospects and customers more time!  

 

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Hal@Businessworks.US   302.933.0116

Open  Minds  Open  Doors

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Mar 08 2009

Professional Practices and Business as UNusual

Assuming it’s 2009

                                     

wherever you are…

                                                                                 

     “Somethings never change,” we’ve heard, but they DO! Assuming it’s 2009 wherever you are, and  you’re at least vaguely interested in surviving– your business or professional practice development efforts must start to reach out for and embrace UNusual approaches to winning and keeping customers, clients and patients.  

     “Great!” you say, “but what ARE they?” Brrrrraaaaaaaat! Wrong question!

     What you need to know –because every doctor, lawyer and business owner is different from every other doctor, lawyer and business owner– is how to get started figuring out what UNusual approaches will work for YOU.

     The first step is to evaluate what has and hasn’t worked for you in the past. [Even if the business or practice is a new one, you still know what qualities, characteristics, methodologies, approaches and behaviors have worked for you in your life to help you get to where you are; go with those to start!]

     Once you’ve isolated the strengths of your best past messages, make a brainstorm list of new and different ways you can apply those messages. Do not edit or critique your initial list; don’t talk yourself out of putting an idea down, even if it involves using carrier pigeons! Why? Because dumb ideas that you don’t eliminate along the way will lead to sensible worthwhile ones. Take a break. Then return with your critical red ink and eliminate, combine and consolidate thoughts.

     Online social networks like Twitter www.Twitter.com are quickly providing (for FREE) a massive referral base for those willing to invest some budgeted time and energy. www.BizBrag.com allows you (for FREE) to post a free news release about some newsworthy aspect of your business or professional practice every day if you choose.

     BizBrag even lets you set these up so they are emailed to prime customers or clients or patients. Or you can send your own personalized emails out urging your contacts to tune you in (to your releases, or your videos that you can put on www.YouTube.com and other sites). With a webcam, you can produce (for FREE) your own mini-series of lectures or seminars and email them out or post them.

     If you have a website, you probably also have (a FREE) blog capability built into it. And even if you don’t, blog sites are basically free or close to free anyway. No time to write blogs? Hire a professional blog writer who can capture your style and “voice” and represent topics you choose, for you! 

     And blogs need not be great literary works. I know an eye surgeon who’s a wizbang photographer and uses his blog site to show off his photos, along with one-line captions urging check-ups, etc. Another fills blog entries with great motivational quotes and appointment reminders.

     Professionals dependent on referrals from other professionals can develop blog posts (and ultimately deliver bound together printouts) on areas involving their specialties and special interests. An orthopedic surgeon with a special interest in sports medicine can generate referrals with booklets made of blog posts on rotator cuff or tennis elbow treatments and exercises for coaches, trainers and physical therapists. 

     Positive impressions of being an accepted authority can also be made with mailings to personal injury lawyers. All of the above become potential referrers to the surgeon. And there’s not a business alive that can’t stand to do more catering to past and present customers –the best source of business– with UNusual approaches.    halalpiar

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Feb 16 2009

Doctors, Dentists, Plumbers, Lawyers, Salespeople, Marketers . . .

A doctor is a doctor is a doctor. 

So why should you expect the doctor to be a lawyer? 

                                                                                                       

     There are some who are both, of course (like from personal experience, I think there are probably also dentists who moonlight as plumbers!), but training and experience usually dictate expertise.  You’re not likely to find a physician handling tort reform, class action suits, or wills, real estate and corporate law. 

     With the same reasoning then, why should a doctor be expected to understand and practice sound customer service principles?  Because physicians are not simply technicians working on car engines.  They are, as we who have been patients know all too well, dealing with human beings. 

     And there is, though some doctors have yet to notice, a difference between machines and bodies.

     Okay, so medical school doesn’t much emphasize the importance of bedside manners, but it doesn’t take a whole lot of living life (even IF it’s been mostly in a medical closet) to appreciate that physicians are rightfully expected to be compassionate and understanding and empathetic enough to help their patients cope and rise above difficult physical and emotional pain and ailments. 

     Don’t you think?  So what makes it okay for any of us to sell or market products and services to others without taking enough interest in the buyers to check back with them?  Why is it not important for us to make sure our customers are STILL pleased with their purchases? 

     Why do we think doctors shouldn’t get away with ignoring our humanness, but it’s not a problem to sell someone something and then push them out the door or over the cliff and dismiss them from our lives?  Do we think there’s no chance they’ll ever return?  That they won’t tell anyone else to visit us? (or not?!) 

     When I was a college teacher on the Jersey Shore, I referred to this way of thinking as “boardwalk mentality” because tourists could be sucked into anything on the boardwalk while they were there vacationing and treating themselves and their families to some good times . . . and they’d be gone in a week and never return anyway . . . or if they did, they’d never remember getting ripped off, so screw’em!

     Well, besides the fact that those days have gone, that even boardwalk concessions are more customer-conscious, and that doctors and lawyers (well, okay, not lawyers) have become more patient satisfaction savvy, many sales and marketing people still avoid customer service followup calls. 

     They do so at their peril, and naively thinking it’s not costing them repeat sales.  It is.  And will eventually (sooner rather than later) cost them a job.  A word to the wise . . .                       halalpiar 

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Dec 04 2008

How to increase sales by cutting marketing expenses!

And the time to turn on

                                               

that front burner is now. 

                                            

     Necessity, you’ve no doubt heard, is the mother of invention.  And I’ll bet you could pop off a few quick examples, right?   

     Surviving a stressful economy requires businesses to do things differently.  We can’t all, arguably, qualify for government bailouts, so we’re backed into corners.  Because we know from life about logistic concepts like “strength in numbers,” we may of necessity end up choosing to combine forces with diverse, even competitive entities. 

     But that’s not a bad thing when it comes to, for example, sharing marketing expenses — unless your egotistical needs to run your own show are too big for you to justify teaming up with others.  That is a bad thing.

     By joining forces, a great deal more becomes possible in terms of both stimulating sales results and saving promotional dollars. 

     One of the most successful regional advertising campaigns I ever produced was for a major lumber company (that also sells a great deal of hardware), which featured wholehearted advertising and promotional endorsement exchanges with a major hardware store (that sold a little lumber) that was located a block away. 

     The two family-owned entities had battled one another for generations, but the advent of a giant home center moving into the area (that would sell both lumber and hardware) prompted the odd bedfellows arrangement. 

     The two retailers combined advertising dollars, and alternated sponsorship messages that always featured testimonials from the other.  Both businesses increased sales and, by working together, both were able to cut marketing expenses.  Each successfully reduced spending totals by one-third while gaining one-third more exposure than they each started with. 

      The home center backed off to a more distant location.

     Contractors, physicians, lawyers, accountants, and others commonly share customer, patient and client referrals.  Online companies engage in cooperative ventures literally every minute of every hour.

     Print and broadcast media often swap space for airtime, and will often barter advertising packages for products and services that they can use as give-aways and contest prizes to gain readership and listenership and viewers.      

     So it’s nothing new.  What’s new is the economic squeeze that pushes considerations of cooperative business marketing efforts to the front burner.  And the time to turn on that front burner is now.  A little receptivity and a lot of responsiveness are the prime ingredients to make combined efforts be productive.  Surely you can muster those? 

     My Father always used to say, “He who hesitates is lost!”  And my Mother always added something about “A word to the wise . . .”     halalpiar

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Nov 21 2008

EVERY BUSINESS NEEDS THERAPY: Physical, Occupational, Speech, and Psycho

Beating Business Breakdowns

                                                                                     

     Why should your business needs be any different than your personal needs?  Well, sure, I know there are different parts involved, duh, and that living/breathing humans are different than paper-based legal entities.  But . . .

     When your body, brain, or emotions break down, you get professional help to work out and then implement some kind of rehab plan.  (Or maybe you first go get what doctors today like to softsell as a “procedure” –less threatening sounding than “operation,” but otherwise the same thing– and then do the rehab deal. 

     Either way, because you want to restore your vitality and get back to some level of normal functioning, you engage the services of people who are trained and experienced at assisting and guiding your physical, mental, and emotional functions:

  • PT (Physical Therapist)
  • OT (Occupational Therapist)
  • ST (Speech Therapist . . . yes there are some rumblings about switching the designation to Speech Pathologist, but not from my corner; therapists are helping professionals; pathologists deal with dead bodies!), and 
  • Psychotherapists (who of course will deal with you whether you’re dead or alive).  Just a little humor here.

     The point is that businesses have physical, mental, occupational and emotional breakdowns too.  And these will usually require the retention of professional “rehab” services as well: 

  • accountants
  • lawyers
  • turn-around specialists
  • sales and marketing consultants
  • management consultants
  • technical consultants
  • business development specialists
  • human resource consultants
  • financial consultants
  • creative consultants
  • IT consultants, et al. 

     The secret is of course being able to sort through the myriad of options and alternatives available and to select the combination of services that best address the rehab interests of your particular business needs. 

     Spend the time and energy to make it happen.  Cutting corners on this process can get so expensive or troubling that it can easily overshadow the original set of problems. 

     Remember that you get what you pay for. 

     Don’t worry so much about industry-specific experience or if the individual or entity you’re considering claims expertise in numerous related areas or has a solid track-record in diverse industries.  What’s important is to feel sure that the person or group has the right attitude and chemistry match to work with you and your support team. 

     Don’t be put off if you only get slim pickin’s for references since most business rehab people work with strict confidence arrangements.

     One highly successful business owner I know routinely brings in outsiders to assist with growth or repair issues.  He makes a point of taking prospective specialists and consultants to lunch or breakfast to get a better sense of the person’s real self

. . . I look to see if he or she says ‘please’ and thanks the waiter or waitress, offers to leave a tip when I pick up the tab, eats like a vacuum cleaner, orders alcohol, takes cell calls, etc.  There’s a lot to learn about how someone will work with you and your organization simply by observing how that individual behaves in a social setting.  I generally include an associate in the experience so I have four eyes and ears doing the sizing up,” says my business owner friend. 

     Periodic “how goes it” evaluations and recommendations from outsiders is also recommended when growth is part of your business goal.  Call if I can help you sort through and identify some best practice solutions: 302.933.0116     halalpiar

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