In this VETgirl online veterinary continuing education blog, Debbie Lynch, VETgirl Veterinary Sales Specialist and Maxine Curley, BS, CVT review veterinary sales, a word we all hate dealing with in veterinary medicine! Here, some tips on what you need to know about sales in vet med.
Sales – a dirty word in veterinary medicine?
Do you know you’re in sales? Yes, you! Think about that one interview, the one where you really blew them away and walked away with the job you wanted. You remember right. There, you sold your skills and value better than anyone else in that room. That right there is sales. This skill can also be invaluable when making sure your patients are getting the very best care possible. From flea and tick preventatives to food, diagnostics, and more. Let me tell you how in 4 easy steps.
Present the idea
Give the recommendation. Even if it means it is the second or fifth time they have heard it. Studies show that people need to hear a message multiple times for it to resonate with them. Discuss with them the value and benefit of the recommendation in a way that is easy for them to understand. Avoid jargon, and use words, phrases, and concepts that everyone understands readily. This can be something as simple as discussing the benefits of weight loss in a cat. Then discuss other diseases that often go hand in hand with obesity like diabetes, joint disease, and lower urinary tract disease.
Ask for questions and check for understanding
Here is where you check back in with them to make sure they understand. Nothing is worse than giving them a recommendation and leaving the exam room to return and find them googling what you just talked about. After all, we are the best resource for information regarding their pet’s health and this is a great way to protect that. This keeps the owner engaged and promotes an open conversation that can promote a great vet-client-patient relationship.
Sometimes we get the answer “no” and that is okay. We should not be surprised or afraid to hear it. The best way to deal with this is to acknowledge the objection and leverage empathy when appropriate. If the topic of the conversation is important enough to warrant a bit more discussion on our end (for the pet’s sake, of course) we can dig into the no for better understanding. Sometimes we find that no doesn’t mean “no never” but perhaps “no, not today” or “no, I don’t understand enough.” We can figure this out if we ask questions, and more specifically open-ended questions. The biggest thing to remember when asking questions is to make sure that you do not assume you know the answers. Often our assumptions, those from former cases that seem alike, get in the way of really getting to the heart of the objection.
Qualities of open-ended questions
• Cannot be answered with a simple “yes” or “no”
• Allows the client to answer with as much length and detail as they wish
• Begins with how, where, when, what, and who
•. Avoid beginning with “Why” because this can lead to defensiveness
The initial questions should be quite broad, and then you can funnel them down the way you want. Funneling is exactly how it sounds, start with big and broad and end up much more narrow and refined. We can funnel down by continuing to ask more detailed questions. As the questions get less broad the answers get more specific. We can steer our conversation by asking the right question.
Finalize plans and client education
Here in this last step you just need to once again check back in with the client to be sure that they are on board with the plan and have no unresolved questions. The client education at this point can be very targeted as opposed to a smattering of brochures and client handouts for them to take home. After all, do they read all of them? Perhaps sending home one brochure or handout that has the message or concept you just discussed during the appointment could be more beneficial. As we know clients need to hear things many times before it sets in. This more targeted approach for sending home information can be that one additional touchpoint that might make the big difference in helping the client see the light and start finally using that flea and tick preventative you have been telling them about at every appointment they have had for the past year.
So sales – a dirty word in veterinary medicine? Not dirty at all. Salespeople look to be a resource and a reference and that sounds just like you! Being a reference to your client helps the pets to thrive and that’s the name of the game.