The Industry’s Four-Letter Word: “Sell”
Stop Fearing and Start Selling (Providing Solutions)!
“I don’t want to have to sell patients anything.”
“I went to school to help people, not sell things.”
“I just want them to be able to hear and for everybody to be happy.”
Sound familiar? If you’ve been in the hearing-care profession — even just one or two years — you know that’s not how it really works. You’ve gone to school, gained expertise, and at some point have to exchange your knowledge for money.
With selling being such a crucial part of your everyday success — from consultations and outbound calls to physician referrals and word-of-mouth promotions — it’s important to learn what it really means and to embrace your role in it. I’ve got some thoughts to help you do just that.
Selling Is Your Avenue to Help Someone
There’s a lot of alignment between what selling really is and what many professionals in various industries are doing: trying to help people. Viewed from that perspective, selling is just your avenue to being able to help someone find a solution.
Physicians are selling solutions and remedies to their patients. Teachers are selling students the power of knowledge and the importance of paying attention in class and learning. Parents are always selling their children on the benefits of vegetables. Entrepreneurs are selling investors on opportunities — whether great products, services, or ideas.
I’d say that 90 percent of professionals are salespeople in some form — wanting to connect with people, wanting to help people, wanting to provide solutions, because people just want to help. “
That’s what selling is to me, and I’m committed to helping change what people think about sales and how they define it.
Take the Long View and Become a Problem Solver
Speaking of defining “sales” or “selling”: When we visualize and think about sales in the traditional format, it’s transactional. That perspective makes it more about the salesperson.
“What’s the benefit for me as a salesperson to have this transaction take place?”
I want to be done with it and move on to the next sell.”
That’s kind of the old way of thinking about sales. A newer way focuses on solving problems. It’s really about what one can do to deliver a solution, something that brings value to the customer, client, student, investor, or patient. When you start looking at sales as solutions-focused, you’re not a salesperson, you’re a solutions provider.
If we put that in the context of hearing care and, more specifically, hearing aids, we’re not selling those hearing aids so that we can make money. Some perhaps are. Most people in this profession, however, are in it to help others live better by hearing better. They’re proudly in it for the long run.
Understanding the Audience’s Needs
One story always comes to mind when I think about being on the other side of a sales transaction. It was summertime, I was about seven months pregnant with my daughter, and I was getting some items out of the car when a little boy selling newspapers walked up our driveway.
We don’t subscribe to newspapers, but I decided to give this kid — who was between 7 and 10 — a quick minute. I always like to hear other people’s sales approach.
“Can I talk to you about the newspapers?”
“You look like you’re going to have a baby.”
“Well, I am.”
“Do you know how much money you can save in coupons every month with the Sunday paper for diapers and for food and for things like baby stuff?”
“No. How much?”
“Hundreds of dollars in coupons. And you could get the newspaper, too, and you could still learn about what’s going on, because you want to know what’s going on in your community — like events for the kids and babies, or safety, if you want to know about safety.”
See what he did there? He observed the situation and then tailored his approach to addresss the things that would matter to me. We talked further, and rather than simply recite the daily price of a newspaper subscription, he listened to understand my needs.
That really speaks to what we’ve been talking about — making it less about transactions and more about problem-solving. This young kid knew and understood that, and it made an impact.
Leading With Passion and Confidence
You have to be passionate about what you do, and you have to be genuine about that. If you can be passionate about what you do, that’s going to go into every conversation you have. It’s one more factor separating the solutions-focused approach from the transactional.
It’s also important to have confidence in the solutions you bring to the table, because there’s value behind them. When people understand the benefit you bring to them and the value you’re adding to their lives, that exchange of money for service is a success. But you have to believe in yourself and know your expertise and service are worth asking for an investment.
Exchanging money for services or goods doesn’t mean you’re not also helping patients immensely. If you’ve taken the time to listen to their needs and figure out their goals, you’re going to help them achieve those goals — whether it’s reconnecting with family, being more active in the community, or anything else that hearing loss had prevented them from accomplishing.
And that’s exactly what you got into this career to do.