By Blair Thielemier
Many practitioners have self-limiting beliefs around professionalism and business. If this is you, perhaps you’re thinking that being professional means you can’t do certain things you’ve seen other successful entrepreneurs do.
For example, you might be thinking that you shouldn’t spend too much money because it may look like you over-charge your patients. Or, you shouldn’t ask for money to do presentations because healthcare professionals give talks for free. Finally, and arguably the most detrimental to the growth of many entrepreneurs is the belief that you should never, ever be considered “salesy”.
The “anti-salesy” approach, however as Melina Palmer explained during the 2020 Elevate Pharmacy Virtual Summit interview on behavioral psychology, can have the opposite effect when, as you try to offer patients a “generic version” of your programs, you 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?]
Consider shifting your belief that “selling is unethical”, to the belief that “it is unethical NOT to sell” if your services can help.
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 is a tough question to balance: “How do I do what is best for my business and also what is best for my patients?”
There are a few things that can really help shift your mindset around selling so you can make sure it is no longer a game of give and take, but instead a win-win scenario.
1. Offer a Free Discovery Call
Make sure you are offering a free Discovery Call to your potential clients.
Some healthcare professionals believe the purpose of the Discovery 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, come up with a set of 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.
2. Build Your Soft Skills
Find the selling technique that works for you. 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 its 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. The sales technique you use must feel authentic to you.
3. Price Accordingly
This final mindset shift may be the hardest for many healthcare professionals. 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 at once be a successful healthcare professional AND an unsuccessful business person.
When you think of how to price your 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. You can know generally what your 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, you can price your 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:
- Savings of money that would go towards the future purchase of cigarettes.
- Savings of time not spent on taking 20-minute smoke breaks that affect productivity
- Savings of healthcare dollars by keeping the ex-smoker from developing COPD or lung cancer
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, you know that would be ridiculous and no one would pay that amount to stop smoking. So taking both into consideration, you can come up with a price that you 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 this phenomenon as the ‘placebo effect’. It can be used in a positive way for the patient’s benefit if they believe the program will have a direct impact on helping them reach their health goals.
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 yourself?
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.
Blair Thielemier 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.
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