The key to successful sales isn’t always the perfect pitch or a charming attitude; sometimes, it’s demonstrating empathy and practicing mental health awareness.
Especially when selling to healthcare providers, you absolutely must be mindful that they are human and working through mental health concerns just like anyone else. It’s a tactic, a habit even, in sales to apply pressure to close deals. But that approach can create unnecessary stress and ultimately hurt your relationship with some clients.
According to 2018 CDC data, the general population experiences burnout rates of 28% and depression rates of 8%. However, Mayo researchers found that physicians’ burnout and depression rates were both about 40% in 2019. And yet, according to additional Mayo Clinic findings, about 40% would be reluctant to seek out mental health treatment due to concerns of how it could affect their medical license.
Being supportive of healthcare providers’ mental health doesn’t look the same as with friends. It’s unlikely that you’ll feel comfortable offering a helping hand or listening ear to what they’re going through. But you can ensure that your actions and words do not make their pressure even worse.
Here are three tips you need to remember to practice mental health awareness when selling to healthcare providers:
Read the room
There tend to be two options for starting prearranged sales meetings: start with small talk to get right to business. You may have personal preferences between the two for how you like to operate. But keep in mind that the choice isn’t yours.
Of course, you want to emit confidence and nail first impressions. But being impressed with you and feeling comfortable around you are two entirely different responses. The former is a nice reaction, but it’s the latter that is essential.
To raise your chances of starting on that right foot, you need to stop thinking formulaically. As much as mentally planning out a script for the meeting helps your nerves and preparation, it’s not authentic. You can keep those thoughts in your back pocket to default to, but the overall goal should be to follow the healthcare provider’s lead.
If you walk in and they immediately start chatting away about their day, don’t be in a rush to push your product. Listen, offer some genuine responses to what they’re saying, and then slowly refocus them onto why you’re there.
On the other hand, if they don’t so much as mention the weather, don’t panic! Small talk can make people antsy, they may have a lot on their plate for the day, or perhaps they dislike talking about themselves. Whatever the reason may be, play along with the pace and topic that the healthcare provider initiates to set them at ease.
Avoid dominating the conversation
Yes, you’re trying to sell a product, but listening and answering questions patiently can be more effective than chatting up a client. Let healthcare providers do the talking sometimes and make them feel heard.
Because you’re the one trying to close a sale, you’re naturally going to ask guiding questions and build intrigue by mentioning details in a strategic order. But be sure to strike a balance; a customer should never feel like you’re smothering their voice. Present your initial information, answer questions patiently, and listen to your customer’s thought process.
After all, research published in Science Direct has proven that active listening and empathy are interconnected. In truth, they are the best ways you can support the wellness of healthcare providers.
Keep in mind you benefit from the healthcare professionals taking the lead in a few meetings. It helps you build a connection and you’re reminded to see them as more than a sales number. The more you learn, the better you can position your product as the perfect fit for their practice and patients.
Help healthcare providers feel like they’re in control
One of the first lessons you learn in sales is to give some pushback when potential clients first say no. But badgering people to change their minds is not what mental health awareness looks like.
In a 2018 study by NIH, researchers found that high perceived control is associated with health, life satisfaction, cognitive performance, lower levels of depression, and more. So when you push so hard on a sale that customers feel like they don’t have control of the situation, you’re disrupting their mental wellness.
But if you aren’t challenging that initial no, what can you do instead?
1. Be proactive
A subtle way to overcome preemptive objections is to ask the right questions to get insight into the healthcare provider’s thoughts. This approach allows you to understand their position before they’re trying to get you out the door. With this information, you can pinpoint how your product fits into their current situation without making it feel like a confrontation.
2. Have a conversation about the why
If a healthcare provider says no after your proactive steps, stay calm when you ask them what has led them to that conclusion. The stakes feel high on your end because a no means walking away with a loss. But talking about it and potentially renegotiating shouldn’t be high stakes. The more you’re able to stay calm and open to listening, the less of a rush your customer will be in to end the meeting.
3. Ensure that customers feel confident in their decision
Do everything you can to stay in the meeting until you’ve answered all questions and resolved all doubts. No client wants to walk out feeling like they were overwhelmed into agreeing to your product. Make it clear that you are willing to take no for an answer. As much as you want to make that sale, your primary goal should be to ensure customers are happy deciding to work with your company.