Why Veterinary Clients Need You Now More Than Ever
Five strategies to separate yourself from the average salesperson in today’s marketplace.
An old vet sales buddy reached out last week and said, “Sully, it’s not as easy to get into offices and hospitals as it used to be. Nobody has time to see me anymore.” I asked him what he thought he was doing well when he was most successful in his career. He said, “When I was at my best, I think I just assumed every office I went to wanted to see me. I made friends with as many people in the offices as possible and as a result, they would always give me a few minutes of their time. But it seems those days are over.”
So, what has changed since the days when my buddy was a Vet Sales Rockstar? Was it him? Was it the clients? Was it the industry? Or was it Covid? Truthfully, it was probably all those reasons. But you’re not about to hear me use terms like “the new normal,” “we are coming off unprecedented times,” or “things will never be the same.” Because frankly, those are just excuses that average and below-average salespeople use to justify not making a ton of calls, not sharpening their sales and communication skills, and not thinking of creative ways to serve the customer.
In fact, some of the best salespeople I know look at now as the best time to steal business from their biggest competitor. And these same sales champs didn’t wait until the pandemic was behind us to find new ways to stand out and add value to customers who were still in need. While everybody was in wait-and-see mode, they went into attack mode. They attacked the supply chain issues and found solutions. They attacked staffing shortage issues and helped make their clients more efficient. They attacked their client’s financial concerns and helped them find new revenue streams.
Below is a list of five attack strategies that will help separate you from the “woe is me” modern-day salesperson.
Be specific in where you allocate your time because not all clients are created equal. Make a list of your A, B and C clients, and be specific about the frequency of contact. There is a fixed cost to your 480 minutes of each workday, so you need to spend the most time with those that can yield a higher return on each minute invested. In short, don’t just do a milk route run because that’s how you always did it before the pandemic.
An average salesperson’s day (pre-pandemic) was often spent putting out fires, following up on orders and occasionally introducing a new product. As you sit in your office next Monday morning, go through your list of As, Bs, and Cs, and make a list of the issues that you believe they may be having. For instance, if Sullivan Animal Hospital is one of my A clients, I would want to think through what I believe some of their biggest issues are, such as:
- Stress levels of their employees
- Staffing issues
- Financial issues and debt
- Up to date on changing standards and trends? (For example, new drug therapies and treatments)
- Interest in preventive medicine
- How have they used digital technology in their own practice to serve their clients?
- How do they best like to see reps? (Live, Curbside, Virtual, Phone)
The time spent thinking about the specific issues each client faces will change the way you prepare to call on them. While the average rep used to just “pop by” to pick up an order or answer some questions, the prepared salesperson offers a new product, solution or idea that may solve one of their very real issues. And you will know what issues to solve if you spent time thinking about the account before you ever reached out.
Make Them Smarter
More than ever, veterinary clients need to know what is working and what is not working in other clinics/hospitals. Which means if a good existing client gives you 5 minutes to chat, consider spending that time asking them questions about what new processes or products have helped them be more efficient or more profitable. Then share those ideas with other clients – even if you don’t make a nickel doing it. By showing up with a giving hand rather than an open hand, they will come to look at you as a resource and a colleague in their business.
Make Them Happier
In a recent study, Frontiers in Veterinary Science asked about the appreciation veterinary techs received, their work hours, work decisions and priorities, and feelings of support from coworkers or management. While 52% of respondents either strongly agreed or agreed that their efforts were appreciated at work during the pandemic, 28% disagreed or strongly disagreed. Further, 38% of veterinary technicians did not feel their hours during COVID-19 were manageable and 26% felt decisions regarding work assignments were not fair.
In short, many of our clients are overworked, tired and struggling to find happiness. Don’t forget the power of a smile, your energy, your selflessness, and your creativity to add a spark to their day. One top performing rep I know saw the high stress levels of her clients and created a Survival Kit for each. The kit contained:
- Starburst – For the times you need a burst of energy
- Snickers – To remind you to laugh at yourself
- Gum – Stick to it when the going gets tough
- Tootsie Roll – Roll with it, tomorrow is another day
- Smarties – For those days you need to feel smart
- Lifesavers – To throw to each other when you are drowning
- Marbles – In case someone thinks you’ve lost yours
- A Bag – To keep it all together
This rep found a way to bring a smile to the faces of her no doubt tired and overworked staffs. She realized that the byproduct of being selfless, caring, and creative is that clients tend to turn to her first when they need help.
Realize They Need You
You are amazingly valuable to your clients, and if you want them to be happy, productive, and successful, they can’t do it without you. They look to you to bring them knowledge and new skills that they can’t get anywhere else.
As Founder of PRECISE Selling, Brian Sullivan helps improve sales, customer service, negotiations, leadership, and presentation skills through seminars and Internet training programs. For more on his speaking, consulting or books, visit: preciseselling.com or email: [email protected].