I’ve been a pharmacist since 2011 and an entrepreneur since 2015. When I first started building my business, I had some major self-limiting beliefs around professionalism and business. I thought if I was being professional it meant I couldn’t do certain things I’d seen successful entrepreneurs do.
Like, for example, I shouldn’t spend too much money, because it may look like I over-charge my patients.
Or I shouldn’t ask for money to do presentations because healthcare professionals normally give talks for free.
Finally, and arguably the most detrimental to my growth as an entrepreneur was my belief that I should never, ever be considered “salesy”.
Being considered salesy was the pit of moral decline in my mind.
The “anti-salesy” approach, however as Melina Palmer explained during our 2020 Elevate Pharmacy Virtual Summit interview on behavioral psychology, can have the opposite effect when, as we try to offer patients a “generic version” of our programs, we end up doing a disservice by unconsciously pushing them towards something that isn’t the absolute best option for them.
[Remember those test questions in school that were like, yes all these options are technically correct, but there’s a BEST OPTION here and that’s the only one that you’ll receive credit for?]
For me, it wasn’t until I began to change my mindset around selling that I began to see big growth in my business.
I finally was able to shift my belief from “selling is unethical”, to the belief that “it is unethical NOT to sell” if my services can help.
As healthcare professionals, every day we spend countless time persuading patients to do what’s best for their health (or at least attempting to), which always requires an element of selling the treatment plan if we choose to look at it that way.
Do you struggle with perceiving selling as unethical for medical professionals?
If the answer is yes, then chances are your business may be struggling too.
It a tough question to balance: “How do I do what is best for my business and also what is best for my patients?”
There have been a few things that have really helped shift my mindset around selling so that I can make sure it is no longer a game of give and take, but instead a win-win scenario.
So I wanted to share these three tips to help you shift your mindset around “selling”.
1. Offer a Free Discovery Call
My first tip is to make sure you are offering a free Discovery Call to your potential clients.
Some healthcare professionals believe the purpose of the Discover Call is to win over a client, but successful entrepreneurs know the purpose is actually to so you can pre-screen clients and make absolutely sure that you can help them.
To help you do this, I recommend coming up with a set three to four “Assessment Questions” you will ask the client to assess if your services will meet their expectations.
This helps make sure your consultation call stays productive and accomplishes your goal of identifying whether you can help this patient get results.
The second tip is to find the selling technique that works for you.
2. Build Your Soft Skills
If you’re a beginner, start with the basics. A book on sales skills or negotiation can help you learn the foundations of business outreach, like how to structure a cold call or use “closing” language when it is decision time.
If you’re more advanced, consider investing in a sales coach to help you incorporate what you already know and create a system that suits your selling style.
As Nikki Rausch reminds us on her Elevate Pharmacy Virtual Summit interview, the sales technique you use must feel authentic to you.
And the final mindset shift may be the hardest for many healthcare professionals.
3. Price Accordingly
There is a shift that happens when you realize “profit” isn’t a four-letter word.
Your patients want you to stay in business because you help them. You need to stay in business if you’re going to help more people.
It is very difficult to be at once, a successful healthcare professional AND an unsuccessful business person.
When we think of how we price our services, it really comes down to using one of two models: time-based pricing and value-based pricing
You can use the two models to compare your time-based price to your value-based price, then pick a pricing structure you feel confident is fair.
First, let’s use the time-based pricing model.
One issue with pricing cash-based services based on time alone is there are no reference ranges available for your unique expertise, years of training or niche knowledge.
We can know generally what our profession would be paid in a traditional role, but not precisely what all goes into factoring that hourly rate.
With value-based pricing, on the other hand, we can price our services based on the expected ROI of the service.
Let’s use a tobacco cessation program as an example.
The ROI of the service could be calculated based on several things:
When you look at value-based pricing, you start going, “Wow, I should charge like a million dollars for this!”
But let’s be realistic too, we know that would be ridiculous and no one would pay that amount to stop smoking.
So taking both into consideration, we can come up with a price that we feel both confident and ethical about.
Remember, the price you choose must reflect your expertise, the value of the expected results and be enough that the patient feels confident in the perceived value of the service.
According to Investopedia, “perceived value is the customers' evaluation of the merits of a product or service and its ability to meet their needs and expectations, especially in comparison with its peers.”
It has been proven patients will respond differently when they believe in their treatment plan. You may know it as the ‘placebo effect’.
But it can be used as a positive as well and the patient’s belief in the program will have a direct impact on a patient’s results.
And finally, the bonus mindset shift you can use is to ask yourself how will you be able to grow your impact if you don’t invest in growing your self.
You can build a successful business that allows you to have an even bigger impact on your patients.
And you can do so with confidence by taking the steps to shift your mindset around selling your services.
P.S. BLAIR’S BONUS TIP - I’m a fan of using affirmations to help you feel more confident during daily interactions.
Here are a few affirmations to help you shift your mindset around selling:
If you are a pharmacist looking for new ideas about how to serve your patients in innovative ways join the 2020 Elevate Pharmacy Virtual Summit on April 8-12th.
It is a free, online virtual pharmacy conference for pharmacist-entrepreneurs and those in consulting practices.
You can register for free using your email address at ElevatePharmacySummit.com
Blair is an independent consultant pharmacist living in Arkansas with her husband and two children. She is the founder of Pharmapreneur Academy, an online e-Course and Community where she guides pharmacist-entrepreneurs through the process and barriers of building a pharmacy consulting business. She hosts and produces the Elevate Pharmacy Virtual Summit, is the author of How to Build a Pharmacy Consulting Business, and facilitates in-person Business Planning Workshops and Mastermind Retreats for female Pharmapreneurs across the country.