What Do They Value? Overcoming Sales Barriers.


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Overcoming common sales challenges often requires addressing your mindset toward the veterinary practices you call on.

At a recent roundtable discussion with a diverse group of sales professionals, the subject of sales call challenges was raised. The challenges were dressed a little differently, but I noticed they were similar to those I had heard at a sales roundtable almost a decade ago. So, I thought it might be helpful to share some thoughts on these long-standing sales challenges.

‘How do I get past the gatekeeper?’

The mindset that a gatekeeper is someone to “get past” is the root of some problems. There are various levels of decision-makers within a practice, and each deserves the same level of respect that would be accorded to the ultimate decision-maker.

A gatekeeper decides whether to grant access. These are the staff at the front desk. So, your first decision-maker is the gatekeeper.

The second decision-maker is an influencer. They cannot decide “yes,” but they can suggest “no,” and even worse, they can sabotage any implementation to prove their suggested “no” was the appropriate response. These can be practice managers, technicians, and/or associate veterinarians.

The third level is usually the ultimate decision-maker.

The experienced, successful reps at the roundtable spoke about uncovering what was important to the individual decision-makers, and then being able to mention that benefit to gain a favorable decision.

But that’s not easy. What is essential to the front desk personnel differs from what is important to the practice manager, tech, or associate vet. And all of that is different than what is essential to the ultimate decision-maker.

So, the answer involves some work to determine the values of all the decision-makers involved in making your sales call a success. The question remains, is it worth the time and effort it takes to obtain all this information? I believe the sales professionals who know what each decision-maker values are those who are the primary suppliers of those practices.

So, if you want to be primary, stop trying to “get past” the gatekeeper and start asking more questions to determine what every decision-maker values.

‘How do I differentiate myself and my company from others calling on the practice?’

My sense is most reps talk about what they believe is important to the decision-maker without really knowing for sure that it’s essential. Not every practice owner wants to grow their business. Some may want to maximize its sale value. Others may want to lighten their workload or maximize their bottom line.

Once again, the experienced professionals at the roundtable talked about building their territories from “new kid” to primary supplier by understanding the specific values of every decision-maker. When they were on the outside looking in, the first question they asked was, “What do you like about your current supplier?” The answers to that question begin to paint that practice’s value picture.

The next question suggested was, “Is there anything you would like to have that you are not getting out of your current relationship?” The answer adds targets of opportunity to the value portrait.

The final question is, “Are there any points of contention in your current relationship that you would like to change?” The answer here will describe the current pain points, and that is important because change only occurs when the pain of doing nothing exceeds the perceived pain associated with the change.

The answers to all three questions provide successful professionals with the information they need to construct a strategy that builds loyal client relationships.

Start by addressing the pain points and discovering what the potential consequences are if those areas of contention are not fixed. Once the consequences reach the point of being intolerable, your solutions will seem like a snap. If there are no pain points, select the targets of opportunity to provide something they would like. In either case, you will have an entry to prove you and your firm can provide everything they want and more. Over time you will have more of the business.

Indeed, these two challenges only scratch the surface of the various difficulties a sales professional faces daily. So, if you have a specific challenge you are struggling with, send us the details. We will select the most repeated challenges for inclusion in future columns.


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