“I love selling,” said no doctor ever.
Doctors often love buying. Expensive cars. Fancy watches. Luxury vacations. Hello, lifestyle upgrade! But very few love selling.
I find it is a common response to look at salespeople with disdain. Pharmaceuticals. Medical devices. EMR systems. Everything. Everyone is always trying to sell us something! Ugh!
I admit that I was one of them. I thought I didn’t need to “sell.” Doctors are in demand, after all! We put in a lot of discipline, hard work, and commitment into honing our craft. We earned the degree with our blood, sweat, and tears.
We are experts in our fields. We know what we’re doing.
Patients come to us needing help. We help them. Thank you, next.
It’s easy to get into autopilot. Zone out.
Before you know it, years have gone by.
But as more health care providers leave medical practice and burnout rates reach an all-time high, we need to consider a new paradigm.
Selling gets a bad rap because we often think of the used car salesman or some bait-and-switch.
But in reality, selling will make you a happier doctor.
Think of selling as a way to deepen your connection with someone.
Selling is the act of communicating how you have something valuable to share and to offer this to someone in need.
Imagine seeing your 53-year-old male patient with a history of Type 2 diabetes, HTN, CAD, and obesity for follow-up, but he is non-compliant with the medications and treatment plan. His HbA1C and lipids keep trending up. He shows up late for most of his appointments. He always has an excuse for why he can’t stop drinking soda or smoking. What do you do?
It’s frustrating, I know. Why doesn’t he get it? Does he need to be hospitalized with a heart attack before something changes?
For many patients, it does take something traumatic to shake things up.
But I want you to know that you can play an active role in preventing such traumas.
When you believe that:
- You can help the patient
- The patient is capable of change
- There is a program/process that will support the patient’s transformation
You have to communicate this and sell this to the patient!
Patients need to feel seen, heard, and understood before deciding to change. We, as humans, need to be validated. This is at the core of motivational interviewing.
Sometimes when patients don’t follow through, it’s easier to blame them than to look within.
Especially when you’re exhausted and burning the candle at both ends. Who has the extra bandwidth?
But you didn’t become a doctor to be grumpy all day. Or to rush through your day so you can finally get to your “real” life.
Because every moment is your real life. Life is happening right now, every second.
You have to get out of autopilot and be present.
Pay attention to what’s going on.
Practice mindfulness in your every day.
What you’re thinking. How you’re feeling. Why you’re acting in a certain way. Owning the results you have or don’t have in your life.
The next time you find yourself getting frustrated with a patient, I want you to pause and ask yourself …
Did I believe it was possible for them? Did I give them all the resources and support they needed? Did I set them up for success?
As physicians, we have a great responsibility and a duty to fulfill. We get wary when we see patients “shopping” for physicians. We see it as a red flag.
Patients look to providers for guidance, wisdom, and hope. When patients receive a new chronic disease diagnosis, it can feel terminal to the layperson. Even pre-diabetes is traumatizing to an otherwise healthy adult.
We must not underestimate the power of our words.
Learn to see selling as a key skill to develop. As with other skills, it gets easier the more you do it.
When you have the know-how and enjoy selling, you will have more belief in yourself, your patient, and the treatment/healing process.
You reconnect to your purpose and share the gifts only you have. You live life with ease and joy. You feel better. Patients do better. Everyone wins.
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