Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Selling The Best Therapy (Part 2) The Light and Dark Arts of Sales Psychology

Selling The Best Therapy (Part 2) 

The Light and Dark Arts of Sales Psychology

Do you want better communicative, persuasive and educational skills as a doctor?

If you want to be the best, learn from the best. Learn from a sales psychologist. 

Get the right one and it will be the most worthwhile single course in all of your medical education. A really good corporate/sales psychologist carries enormous value in industry. I have been offered the equivalent of 3 months of medical salary to give a one day workshop on selling to the conscious and subconscious mind using the CBT model. I refused due to lack of control over who I was sharing this powerful knowledge with but that does not apply to doctors selling their services in service of the most precious comodity, human health.

Have no qualms. Sales technology or psychology covers a wide span. The knowledge base of sales technology knows how to sell anything and everything. 

The use of sales in medicine is often unpalatable because of the high profile of the dark side of sales. They can sell crap for their own profit which in no way enhances life to weakminded, or is even so worthless that even damages life. They can even cause so much desire for a life filled with such crap that the customer forgets rationality and the reality of their financial situation on credit until they get their home repossessed.

That is the dark side of the psychological arts of sales. It is passive aggressive sales, conning and bullying them into purchase or belief, often under the pretext of 'The customer is always right' when under the influence of the advertising campaign. These are the Win/Lose and Lose/Win strategies to convince the unwitting to buy inferior products that will be in the trash five minutes later whilst remaining on the credit card forever and putting cash into the pocket of the unscrupulous salesperson.

The only reason that the good doctor has to know about this side of sales is to know the strategies that are being used against them.

There is another side of sales despite a generally negative reputation. Sales technology covers all products not just the crap ones. Psychological technology has been developed to help sell the most wonderful, life enhancing products because nothing sells without sales. This Light Art of Sales tech is educating, informing and guiding customers to acquiring products at a fair price that will substantially improve and enhance their lives.

And one would hope that all doctors believe that their products fall into the life enhancing category! This is exactly the situation that the best outcome and evidence based therapies of medicine find themselves in. They are competing against inferior therapies being sold by sales psych black arts of passive aggressive Lose/Win and Win/Lose Dark Side Sales Strategies. DSSS need aggressive treatment to avoid a pandemic spread and serious health consequences.

This is Win/Win sales. Usually it is associated with the IT world and interbusiness relationships and dealings, in both cases to produce long term partnerships based on mutual respect and trust that produce mutual benefit for both parties. And although modern medical ethics, informed consent, patient participation and consultation dynamics are not usually called sales, this is exactly where they come from. They are absolutely classical Win/Win sales and the sales psychologist understands them much better than the best medical profession. It is there one and only job and their core knowledge.

The classic example used to present the concept of Win/Win sales is the purchase of a new computer....

Seller Wins - Customer Loses

The customer is cohersed, confused and bullied into buying the top of the range computer and everything else that they do not need for the salesperson to reach their targets and make as much short term profit as possible. The salesperson is selling what is most convenient to them at the highest price possible inlcuding out of date stock and stock that is about to go out of date. The use of impenetrable jargon is a typical tactic to ensure the seller's position in the hierarchy and intimidate the buyer into submission. The use of language as a weapon forces the customer into having to trust this 'expert' something that they will obviously never understand and cannot question.

The result is that the customer buys resentfully and sooner or later realises that they have been had. They tell everybody they know and the shop that was once so profitable has no customers. In the long term, it fails.

Seller Loses - Customer Wins

The customer gets exactly what they wanted. The customer is always right because the seller wants to massage their ego. And the customer gets what they want at the cheapest price possible. 

Well it works if you are selling useless trinkets based on personal taste or fashion where this year you have to buy a blue one and throw out the yellow one and next year you'll need pink. Well, it works until there is no employment and your economy collapses under the weight of foreign imports. 

It does not work for any product that has a practical purpose and has a technical specification
unless the customer is competent and knowledgeable in that field. This is why this does not work in IT except when selling to very well informed and rational customers. They buy things because they are pink or have lots of flashing lights and get home to discover that they are unfit for the purpose they were intended for. Eventually, the customer discovers that they bought something they will never use. It can do so much they get confused and never use it. At the very least, they have spent twice what they needed and probably got themselves into debt over it.

This is industry specific. Any industry that requires significant investment in R&D is cut past the bone by the customer's right to the lowest prices. They fall behind. Progress is unfunded. This is not industry specific. Quality falls to cheapen the product and it falls to pieces after a few weeks. 

Both Have Been and Are Practiced In Health

Traditional, the Win/Lose Aggressive Passive scenario is practiced in health including the the intimatation of the patient by using jargon as words rather than communicating to share knowledge. It still happens. It is being forced on the medical profession by limiting the amount of time that the doctor has to spend with the patient. The doctor wins when they get the resentful patient out of the door as quickly as possible with the correct medical treatment in their hand. The resentment affects treatment compliance. They seek another doctor. They trash the reputation of that doctor.

Or they become powerlessly dependent on the doctor and enter the sick role. Forget lifestyle improvements and patient responsibility.

In view of this tradition, the pendulum has swung the other way and patient are insisting on winning. The are demanding the Lose/Win, Passive Aggressive situation where the doctor shuts up and does as they are told. The patient decides what is wrong with them and what treatment they want. The doctor's medical training and clinical acumen are out of the window. They are a passive and pointless part of the consultation, rubber stamping whatever the patient wants with their license without making the individual risk benefit analysis that is the heart of their training.

Doctors feel disrespect and are malcontent. Treatment complaince is probably worse because the know-it-all patients do what they feel like without accepting the risks. Treatments fail. They get unnecessary side effect from unnecessary treatments and investigations. They tell everybody that doctor was stupid and no help at all. Medicine is dangerous.

And that is not counting the greater side effects such as multiresistant bacteria, loss of clinical skills, loss of clinicians and medical economics, driving up the costs of healthcare to the extent that they cripple entire nations whilst ensuring social injustice. The basic human right to healthcare can only be met for those that pay for it.

There is no half way house between the two. Society's solution of give and take does not work. There is no harmony, only a tense conflictual balance like a tug of war in which nobody is satisfied, distrustful and stressed.

The Win/Win Scenario

Sales psychology has gone beyond a bipolar model of two opposites. They have introduced a thrid opposite pole. It is opposite to Win/Lose and Lose/Win. It is even dyametrically opposed to the tense balance between the two. It is the polar opposite of the line between passive and aggressive. This is called assertivity.

Imagine going to buy a computer if you do not know too much about them. The salesperson greets you and asks what you are looking for. They get you to explain your present and future needs in your own terms. They stop to consider then explains the issues in accessible terms that you can understand. They communicate to share their knowledge and respect your ability to grasp it when it is explained accessibly rather than in jargon.

The salesman offers you a solution and explains that solution as the best individual option for you. It is a computer that is nothing like top of the range and half the price of the you were expecting to pay. The salesperson even wants to sell you a lead to your sound system instead of cheap and cheaper sounding speakers to the distort the music and videos you constantly listen to. 

Of course, you agree. The expertly guided decision becomes your decision too. You take ownership of that decision.

You are over the moon as the customer. Your needs have been listened to by somebody who cares. A solution has been found especially for you. What is more, you can certainly trust this salesperson. Their actions have proven that they want the best for you rather than acting in their own immediate interest of selling you the biggest and best.

The salesperson is happy too. They sold you what you needed at a fair price. They made their normal markup. Then they are really happy because the customer is so satisfied that they spend the budget that they saved on a printer or software that they had thought they could not afford or even a tablet. More to the point, they have earned and deserved a repeat customer, a customer for life.

And when your computer arrives, they come round after hours and personally deliver and install it. They even start it up and make sure that you are clear on the basics. They even leave you with an idiots' guide and the invitiation to pop round to the shop if you have any difficulties or problems. And if there is a major problem, it will not have to be sent back to the manufacturer.

Now you really are going to recommend this computer shop to all your friends. 

This Win/Win strategy is especially important in corporate relationships with suppliers in the fast moving high tech world where the final manufacturer is the customer for components. The old model of trying to drive prices down is a disaster in terms of quality and R&D for those components. Instead, companies now work together in 'strategic partnerships' that trust to components being sold at a fair price that allows R&D. They actually work together on product development rather than passive aggressively competing.

This is the sales psychology that doctors need to apply in each and every medical interaction. In fact, the highest morality and ideals of doctor patient interaction are built directly on this assertive, Win/Win model.

The Health Outcome Focused Pole of Consultation Dynamics

The medical profession appears to be far behind the sales psychologists in terms of interpersonal dynamics. I have still only heard of a bipolar system with Doctor Focused at one end of the line and Patient Focused at the other end. That system 'has' no Win/Win scenario. The system somehow squeezes all possibilities of consultation dynamics into it so Win/Win must be in there somewhere but it is not explained or clarified. 

Using the tripolar system of the sales psychologists, a triangle instead of a line, makes it all so clear. It is the Assertiveness Triangle with Assertiveness at the top and Aggressive and Passive at the two corners of the base.
The Assertive Win/Win Solution is the vertex and it is Health Outcome Focused. It is doing what has been proven to be the best for the patients' health. However, it is far more than following the therapy on the protocol. It is more complex than that. It includes many subjective events too, such as patient education in a manner that is accessible and relevant to the real world so that the patient can truly become a part of the decision making process. That is what assures the highly positive health outcome of treatment compliance and continuation. It also ensures long term satisfaction and mutual respect for both parties.

Next: Selling The Best Therapy Part 3: The Magic of Assertiveness

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