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Your staff hate selling: here’s how to improve their sales skills anyway...

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01 February 2016, at 12:00am

Paul Green continues his series with a look at the five stages of selling – with much of it done even before the client comes into the practice – and the three-stage process of closing a sale.

NO one becomes a vet or a nurse in order to sell.

Those who want to sell and are committed to becoming good at it go work for the big suppliers and become road warriors.

For the majority of the people in your practice, selling is a dirty word. Thing is, while they might hate it, everyone in the practice IS selling, all of the time.

Because selling is not a one-off activity that happens just when we want to get clients to buy something new. A good efficient practice is selling to its clients all of the time, whether it realises it or not.

In fact, we are all selling all the time. We just don’t call it that.

When we tell our kids they need to do their homework before they can play computer games, that’s a form of selling. When we try to persuade our better half that a night out with friends is a great way to spend Saturday night, that’s a form of selling.

Selling can be defined in lots of different ways. Finding a need or want and fulfilling it. A process of persuasion to get a prospect to take action. A series of activities that lead to someone exchanging cash for your service. It can also be as simple as laying out choices, and saying, “Well, I could do that to help Fluffy ... what do you think?”

Stripped down to its most basic elements, there are ve stages of selling. Much of the selling is done before the client is standing in front of your staff.

1. Prospecting

This is about getting in front of “qualified” decision makers. For you, that’s easy.

Because you have a series of clients already dealing with your practice. And you can improve the quality of the new clients you are speaking to by improving the quality of your marketing.

Today, there are just 10 people looking for a vet in your town. Tomorrow, it’s a different 10 people. 

The day after, it’s a different 10 people. Does your marketing instantly show what makes you the smarter choice than all the other vets?

Do the price, position, and package all send a message that this is the “no brainer” choice of vet for the client you most desire? That will be someone who has a need for what you do, wants the best, and has the ability to pay for it.

Good marketing does your pre- qualification for you. It has a Marmite effect. The most desirable future clients love it. And those who were never going to be good clients hate it.

For existing clients, you can also improve the pre-framing you do to them before they come into the practice. If you want to sell your health plan, don’t leave it till they are in the practice to educate them about the benefits. Send them information about it ahead of the appointment.

The more educated someone is before you ask them to commit, the better.

2. Meeting the prospect

You can never assume that any client knows who everyone is in the practice. Even if they have been a client for 23 years.

You always need to remind them who each member of staff is, and what their expertise is.

Experts sell more. Not because of what you do ... rather, because of what you have done. The higher perceived expertise, the greater your sales could be.

One clever idea is to lm video introductions to each member of the team, put them on your website, and send links to clients before each consultation. It’s another clever pre- framing idea.

3. Needs/wants analysis

The most powerful tool for this is the pre-consultation questionnaire. It’s a document that clients fill in before they go in to see the vet, and through a series of questions they tell you what they need and what they want.

Any clinically competent vet will feel bound to act on the information they receive. And it’s so much easier to sell someone something when they are telling you they want it.

4. Presentation of solution

What do you most want to sell more of right now – optional dental treatments? Health plan?

The more you focus on something, the more of it you will sell. If you’re serious about doubling your health plan membership again and again, make it something you talk about with your team in the daily morning briefing. Every day.

Run weekly training. Turn it into a gentle competition between different members of the team. Attach rewards to hitting targets, so that your team feel good when they achieve what you want.

5. The close

If you’ve spent enough time doing the stuff we just talked about (educating and building a relationship), then closing is easy.

Closing is the only bit your staff will see as “selling”. All they have to do is ask for the sale. If you’ve got steps 1 to 4 correct, then the hard work has already been done.

Here’s a three-step easy close: 

  • Give me the sizzle (not the sausage). At breakfast time, people buy the sizzle of a sausage, not the actual banger itself. Too many vets sell sausages. The sizzle means talking benefits with clients, rather than features. 
  • “What questions do you have?” This is to expose and overcome objections.
  • “Shall we go ahead with this?” The simplest, most powerful close there is.

The three-step easy close is the only thing you need to teach your staff. Oh, and give them a bit of resilience, by reminding them that every time they ask for a sale, SW3.

Some will. Some won’t. So what. Next!