Getting Your Team Onboard with Products and Services
The idea of “selling” to your clients may be an uncomfortable one. After all, good practices are about the quality of medicine they provide, not what products and services they sell—right?
Good practices and the products and services they provide are one and the same. Both are critically important! If you make a medical recommendation for a specific product or service, and your client does not “buy” or “go home” with that recommendation, then the quality of medicine that you are able to provide to that pet has just been compromised.
Since quality of care is so important to us, how do we get “selling” to no longer be uncomfortable, but instead be embraced and coveted by our healthcare teams?
There are three ways to help turn “selling” in to a routine pattern of behavior in a practice:
1. Product and service training
2. Healthcare recommendation training
All involve your healthcare team being well trained, focused, and inspired.
First, let’s talk about product and service training.
Product training is fairly easy. Most sales representatives from the companies that sell the products to you offer training meetings like “Lunch and Learns”. These are free of charge and your healthcare team gets a free lunch. Remember that these people are in the business to “sell” their products. This can be good in that they will have great “selling tips” you can use when discussing the benefits of the products with your clients. The bad could be that with competitive products available from other companies, the information they give you could be a little one-sided.
A great idea is to charge a member of your staff to become an “expert” in a product’s category (ie flea/tick). This person can be in charge of things like:
• Collecting questions and going back to the Sales Representative for
• Keeping track of new products and innovations.
• Making sure the client educational literature is current.
• Consulting with clients that seem to be very inquisitive about that
Service training can also be fairly simple. Hold regular “Team Meetings” weekly or monthly for 30 minutes and discuss a specific “service” with your entire healthcare team. Some areas to cover might be:
• Why do we offer it?
• How is it performed and by whom?
• Which clients need to be aware of this service and how are they going
• What is the expectation of how many clients we get to take part in this
Identify team members who are the “experts” around the major services you provide as well, and ask them to give presentations on the service at these meetings. Sometimes hearing the information from a peer has greater impact than hearing it from a superior. Their expertise also becomes a wonderful training opportunity for new employees.
Finally, put together a comprehensive “Book of Products and Services” that your practice provides. Be sure each is fully explained. All team members can review it as needed, and it is a great tool for new hire training!
Try and make sure your entire team is present for these product and service training meetings to guarantee that everyone gets the same information at the same time. This helps assure that your clients are being told the same facts from every healthcare team member that they talk to from your practice.
So now for the “sales”, I mean “healthcare recommendation” training!
Let’s get the team on board in understanding that we are not “selling” products and services, but instead making a healthcare recommendation for each and every pet.
Two rules of the road…
#1. Make the best medical recommendation and stand behind it! These recommendations are a serious part of helping to keep pets healthy for life. It is why we are in the veterinary profession!
If you are serious about what you advocate, most clients will do what you ask because they care about their pet. Some may ask questions about your recommendation. Simply be prepared to answer those questions. All they need is a little additional information and time to become more comfortable in taking your recommendation.
#2. Always assume your clients CAN pay for what you are recommending! Don’t worry, if there truly is a financial issue, they will most definitely tell you and you can address it then. Some solutions might include split payments, spread out treatments, outside financial assistance, and so on. There are many financial solutions available that will help ensure the patient will still receive your recommended standard of care.
Now all we need is a little MOTIVATION!
Once we all feel secure in making a medical recommendation, it just becomes a matter of motivation! It’s the key to keeping the entire healthcare team on board in proactively making sure that clients walk out the door possessing what will keep their pet healthy.
Motivation is a beautiful thing! It is an extremely powerful tool and most often underutilized. What are some forms of “motivation”?
Recognition and appreciation!
The two easiest, most economical, and most powerful forms of motivation are recognition and appreciation given verbally in front of one’s peers. Things to look for from your team:
• Products being dispensed
• Service levels being attained
• Expert client interaction and communication
• Great teamwork
• Becoming a subject matter “expert”
• Completing CE (continuing education) outside the clinic
• Great suggestions that enhance the practice
Verbal rewards not only motivate but also enhance job satisfaction, teamwork and loyalty to the practice.
Are you reward or money-motivated?
I have witnessed many successful “reward” programs implemented in clinics. What is important is to drive the behavior that you want from your team members and base the rewards on the outcome of such behavior.
Below are some examples:
Gives the entire team some skin in the game. The more profitable the practice becomes, the more “bonus” an employee will receive throughout the year. A good financial advisor can help get a productive profit sharing program in place at your practice.
Reward for product going out the door with clients:
“For every 6-dose supply of flea and tick product or 12-dose supply of heartworm preventive that a client takes home for their pet, $2 will be put in the ‘jar’ and that money will go towards a clinic party, dinner out, free product for our pets, or gas cards for all!” Use fake money (representing your actual accruals) and put it in a jar for all to see.
Reward for services that clients take part in:
“If we increase the number of dental cleanings the clinic does from 3 each week to 5, everyone in the clinic gets a free dental cleaning for one of their pets.”
Reward for enhancing education:
“Your starting salary is $XX/hour. After you have successfully completed at least 10 hours of accredited continuing education, your salary will be raised by $X/hour.”
Shake it up! Keep it lively and fresh! The possibilities are endless when it comes to motivating your team. By creatively motivating through recognition, appreciation, and rewards, your likelihood for success abounds!