Trust and Listening: Essential Keys to Building Relationships in the Clinical Laboratory

As motivational speaker, author, and salesman Zig Ziglar states “Every sale has five basic obstacles: no need, no money, no hurry, no desire, no trust.”  As an outreach service consultant for Chi Solutions, I see opportunities captured and lost on a daily basis. Whether selling laboratory services for a Chi hospital client or radio advertisements in a previous position, I’ve found the same thing either seals the deal or keeps it from happening:  trust.

Start by getting to know your clients. When walking into an office, it’s essential to know if the person you’re about to meet with is someone who likes to build rapport or someone who prefers to get straight to the nuts and bolts. You need to know what will be the most important value and solution offered to clients. Some may want their trademark to be customer service and knowledge. Others may not care as much about their service as the product, and they may not have to deal with customers so much if their product is superior to the competition.

You can’t go wrong with knowing that trust and listening are vital components. They will help you break through more walls, get to the decision maker, gain a competitive edge, and leave the client viewing you as a valuable resource.

Let’s face reality:  nobody likes to be “sold” anything anymore. When you last purchased a car, you did research online, asked your friend that knows about cars for a recommendation, and found a location with the best price. Then, you just showed up, pointed to the car you Car Sales Shaking Handswanted, and the paperwork began. Gone are the days of going to the car lot and telling the salesperson what you’re looking for (such as what kind of mileage you want, if it will be a family or work vehicle, etc.). Now, you already know exactly what make, model, and interior you want before you get there, and the salesperson’s job is to build a rapport with you and provide a solid customer experience. If that happens, the majority of consumers will grab a business card with the intent of becoming a repeat customer or referring friends not because of the salesperson’s superior knowledge of the product, but because he or she made them feel at ease by eliminating that stressful, “what do I need to do to get you to sign today?” environment.

Each and every one of us likes to be heard. We like to feel like our opinions matter and our input can make a difference. As a clinical laboratory outreach consultant, the best thing you can do is close your mouth and let the client tell you what is important to them. Healthcare professionals know what they need to cater to their practice and patients better than you do. Listening helps you gain insight, and then you can suggest something—big or small—that you know is a sure-fire, can’t miss idea. What you’ve just done is display to the client tAttentive Listeninghat you’re able to let them tell you what they need and then turn around and solve the problem for them, thus earning their trust by listening rather than trying to sell something nonessential.

My most successful consultative sales calls have been those where I decide to let clients lead the conversation. I’m only there for a few minutes, and clients know much more about how things operate in their practices than I do—it would be foolish of me not to listen. After listening, I can suggest a new clinical test my hospital or clinical laboratory can provide for their patients or perhaps fix a problem, such as IT challenges, by following it through to completion. This leads to a chance to earn credibility with them. If that continues for the next few visits, they’ll no longer see me as just their clinical laboratory service consultant but as a valued colleague that does what he says he will. They’ll add me to speed-dial because they know I’m looking out for them and their best interests.

To develop this type of relationship, I encourage you to not be quick to speak but rather to listen. Clients will tell you exactly how you can help them and earn their business. This way, you’ll become an asset—someone they trust and value—instead of just another salesperson. Before long, your reputation, and that of the organization you represent, will precede you.

Derek Cogswell
Outreach Service Consultant
Chi Solutions, Inc.

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