Observation Deck – The Reluctant Salesperson

If you’re like many contracting professionals, you rose through the ranks, beginning in the storeroom or purchasing department. At some point in your career, you might have held the title of purchasing agent or manager. You probably found yourself sitting across the table from a vendor whom you considered an adversary. In fact, at times you might have even considered salespeople to be, at best, a little greedy, and at worst, unconcerned about the hospital’s welfare. If that’s what you think about salespeople, then what do you see when you look in the mirror?

Recently, I attended a conference for manufacturer sales-and-marketing professionals that featured sales coach Brian Sullivan. Sullivan used to be with Welch Allyn before starting his sales training firm, PRECISE Selling (www.preciseselling.com). His book, “20 Days to the Top,” is designed to help salespeople become top sales performers by making every word they say count. (“Average salespeople talk too much while saying too little,” he says.)

As I sat listening to his remarks, I was struck by how applicable everything he said was to Journal of Healthcare Contracting readers. An effective contracting professional is every bit as much a salesperson as that rep who calls on you and your clinicians. After all, aren’t you constantly challenged to demonstrate the value of your department and program? Don’t you have to prove your credibility to your administrators and staff? And haven’t your clinicians ever viewed you and your staff as people who are concerned more about the bottom line and looking good to your boss than about quality patient care? Is that so different from how you view the sales reps who call on you?

All of us are, to some extent, in sales, even if we don’t have the title. That’s why we’ve asked Brian if we could adapt some of his material – originally intended for distributor and manufacturer salespeople – for JHC readers. He’s enthusiastic about reaching a new audience. So are we. And, we hope, you will be too.

This month’s installment is about what Brian calls the “PRECISE pitch.” In it, he challenges salespeople to be able to summarize what they do confidently and succinctly to whomever asks. Some people call it an “elevator pitch.” If you’ve ever put a sales rep on the spot and asked him or her to tell you in 30 seconds or less why you should buy the product or service he’s selling, you know what an elevator pitch is. And if you’ve ever been asked by a busy surgeon to justify the contract that you (or your GPO) has just signed, you’ve been on the receiving end of the same.

Reluctant salespeople we may be. But salespeople all the same.

Mark Thill About Mark Thill

Mark Thill is the Editor of The Journal of Healthcare Contracting and has been reporting on healthcare supply chain issues since 1985. He is a graduate of Dominican University in River Forest, Ill., and he received a master's degree in journalism from Northwestern University in Evanston, Ill.

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