Do Physicians Need Sales Skills?

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Would you like to attract more patient referrals, motivate your staff to be kinder to grumpy patients and increase patient compliance?

Your ability to build rapport and influence others is a leadership skill that will serve you well at work, at home, and at play.  What if selling were nothing more than the process of inspiring those around you to take a desired action?  By this definition, selling is a critical skill for every physician.  Here are some “heal thyself” lessons about selling that will help you achieve better clinical and financial results.

My Old Beliefs About Selling
When I entered medical school thirty years ago, I believed, “Doctors shouldn’t sell; it’s unprofessional.”
Further, I believed that I didn’t have to sell. If I just took good care of patients, my practice would grow.
It was a different story when I traded my scalpel for a pen and a microphone and launched a career writing and speaking and consulting. I had to sell.
And almost every day as an entrepreneur I said to myself, “I hate selling!”
My New Beliefs about Selling
Here’s how I made peace with selling.
I reframed marketing as the process of engaging someone in a conversation; I reframed selling as the process of inspiring someone to take action.
You sell when you persuade your kids to practice the piano, help a colleague see things your way or get your food prepared as you want it at a restaurant.
You sell every day. You sell when you persuade your kids to practice the piano, help a colleague see things your way or get your food prepared as you want it at a restaurant.  You sell when you persuade patients to take medication as prescribed, change lifestyle habits or follow up with a specialist.
Your Persuasion Tools 
You have three basic tools to persuade others to act in the ways you want.
1. Persuasion through authority: The words “because I said so” had meaning in the Father-Knows-Best era. Mandates generally build walls between people instead of bridges and undermine your ability to influence others.
2. Persuasion through logic: You can persuade by appealing to reason. Here are the three most compelling logical arguments:
“Do it for you.” “Take this medication to prevent another heart attack.”
“Do it for me.” “I would be grateful if you could make these calls for me.”
“Do it because it’s the right thing to do.” “Responsible people put advance directives in writing.”
3. Persuasion through emotion: While we like to think of ourselves as rational creatures, many smart people make not-so-smart choices. Brain science explains why. Growing evidence suggests we make most of our choices with our feeling brain (the limbic system) and justify them with our thinking brain (cerebral cortex). In other words, emotions drive motion.
Consider the possibility that most choices are driven by emotion. In other words, your ability to influence is greatest when you persuade with emotion.

Read more to access the four different personality types and ways to strengthen your power to persuade:

Source:  Vicki Rackner, MD
MD Magazine Contributor