Prevention and Preparation for Sales Presentations
Like veterinarians discussing the reasons behind treatment recommendations with pet owners, distributor reps must be prepared to provide relevant information as they explain purchase opportunities to their customers.
We all know that prevention is the best medicine, but there are many different perspectives when it comes to preventive medicine. Medical practitioners and insurance companies are generally in favor of prevention versus treatment, and while pet owners seem to agree with the concept of prevention, it appears they aren’t always in support of the cost. Interestingly, the decisions around animal health are often associated with the cost of the procedure, the treatment, or the preventative. These decisions are often made in a vacuum, meaning that the cost of the prevention is typically viewed through the lens of the financial situation of the day and rarely compared to the cost of treatment.
This is a compelling comparison in almost every scenario. Prevention is almost always less expensive than treatment for any given condition. The other factors that are often overlooked are the symptoms that the animal must endure before being administered treatment. Prevention can often allow the pet to avoid any unnecessary pain and/or suffering. When pet owners really think through the prevention versus treatment options, they typically find it more humane and more responsible to opt for the cost of the prevention.
Veterinarians are fielding more questions from clients about the recommendations that veterinarians are making for their patients. “Dr. Google” has armed the general pet-owning population with information about their pet’s needs, their pet’s ailments, and the costs associated with preventive medicines. With the costs of veterinary medicine rising, and the profession struggling to find enough help to staff the veterinary practices, practices must find ways to connect with their pet-owning clients. Being viewed as an expense versus an expert is not good for the practitioner, the industry, or the pet population at large.
Come from a position of understanding
Sometimes our role can be interpreted similarly by our customers. In the not-so-recent past the “want list” has become more of a “needs list” when our customers are determining what products and quantities they need to order. When we offer a promotion on products, a volume discount, a rebate, or other sales-related deals, we can often be initially received as trying to sell versus service our customer accounts. We must provide the right information for our customers to make the best decision possible for their situation.
It is much the same as the interaction between the veterinary staff and a customer as the staff explains the benefits of preventive medicine. We must first come from a position of understanding the customer’s needs. I have often mentioned our ability to learn more about the customers that we serve. Product purchase history, brand preference, frequency, pricing, and seasonality are all at our fingertips. Frequent discussions with customers allow us to learn more about their practices and the business needs of the practice.
This is very similar to what the veterinary staff must do with their customers. They provide care based on an examination, historical information, and assessment of the details provided by the pet owner. We need to be prepared to provide the same sort of information as we are explaining purchase opportunities to our customers. Can it prevent added expenses later? What are the benefits of taking advantage of the deal now? What are the consequences if you do not buy the deal?
The average pet owner provides the best quality of life possible for their pet. Many times, the pet is viewed as an extension of their human family. We, in America, go to tremendous lengths to take care of our animals, and the last thing that any of us wants to see is an animal suffering.
This is a very interesting mindset when you start to analyze trends in the animal health care arena. Some of the first things to be cut when economic times become difficult are preventive measures. Vaccinations, wellness check-ups, heartworm prevention, and the list goes on. It is common for many ancillary items to go by the wayside to reduce spending. In essence, we cut back on the things that we have determined that we can do without, or that we don’t need to survive. Many practitioners gravitate towards a similar thought process when it comes to ordering supplies. Ordering what they need to replenish or purchasing items for specific patient needs are simple decisions. Purchasing more than they need at the moment to be prepared for the upcoming season or purchasing volume for a financial benefit can also be perceived as not necessary.
We all know pets are vulnerable when pet owners determine that preventive medicine is not necessary or is perceived to be too costly. The savings is evident when pain, suffering, and treatment costs are factored in and compared to the cost of prevention. The same can be done when detailing a purchase opportunity with your customers. Only detail what is relevant for their business. Inform them of the opportunity. Explain to them why you are bringing it to their attention. Describe the reasons that you feel it is beneficial for their practice at this point. Position the benefits of the opportunity and the potential consequences of not taking advantage of the deal. Use what you know about your customer’s buying habits, their business, seasonal trends, and their needs.
Partnering with them as an ally that wants what is best for their business is the same as them wanting what is best for their patients. Work with them to get past the initial view of an additional expense. Using the analogy of preventive medicine versus treatment – the cost now versus the cost in the future – may help you to strengthen your trust with your customers and enhance your relationship with them.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
President of Same Page Consulting Inc.
Image credit: istockphoto.com/andresr