I went to grad school and you expect me to be a SALESMAN?!

Sales … Really???

Now that we have your attention, we will cut to the chase and answer the question for you – YES! Yes, you may have a PhD, MBA, JD or a MD, but the truth of the matter is without the ability to influence, you will never get far. We are always selling – to our spouses or significant others, to our children, to our clients, and to our patients. Selling is a part of life. The reason we don’t think of it as “selling” is simply because we call it something else. Sometimes it’s called persuading, sometimes influencing, sometimes cajoling, sometimes reasoning. But whatever you might call it, in the end it comes down to “selling” something (an idea, a pitch, a remedy, a prescription etc.) 

Why Selling is so Important Today

So why is “selling” so important in today’s marketplace, no matter what it is that you are doing? Because the days of apprenticeships and a lifetime at the same company are obviously over.

It is becoming ever more clear that your first job after school WILL NOT BE your last one.

Even physicians, who tend to be a pretty stable lot as a whole, tend to switch jobs at a rate of 50% by their 2nd year out of training! So if the job market is inherently unstable, it will be up to you to “sell” yourself as the best candidate for the next job.

Hopefully by now you are convinced that being a great salesperson is critical to your career, even if you never sell one widget in your life. And the skills that are employed by top salespeople are the types of skills you should seek to emulate. So how can you become better at selling your wares, ideas, and treatment plans?

The keys to successful sales include:

(1) Trust

This is probably the most important thing. You want to develop a bond with your customer, client, or patient. They need to believe in you wholeheartedly and your abilities. They need to also KNOW that you have their interests at heart. That you are looking out for them over your own personal interests. Once a trusting relationship is established the rest is a piece of cake…

To do this you need to establish rapport. This is beyond the scope of this article but I have found that creating a low stress environment, demonstrating respect, having a genuine interest in the person and listening to them are fundamental to establishing trust. 

(2) Listening

You must listen to the other person! Hear them out – let them speak and express themselves. You want to understand what their real problem is. Sometimes it is not always what they first tell you – rather it is something deeper. Don’t just hear them with your ears – actively listen to their needs so you can understand their problems and thereby develop a solution that can provide them with value.

(3) Create an emotional connection with the other person

We are not robots. We all have feelings and emotions. We also tend to favor people who have things in common with us. I think it is really important to first establish some rapport with the other person rather than just “cutting to the chase.” I always found it somewhat awkward when someone just strolls into the room and goes straight into addressing the problem rather than exchanging pleasantries and just saying hello with a warm smile. Don’t discount that – it only takes a few moments but can make a big difference.

(4) Understand how time plays a significant role

Inertia is the first fundamental law of physics and should also be the first law of psychology because of its primacy (In physics, Newton’s first law states that a body in motion will stay in motion, and a body at rest will stay at rest unless acted on by an external force. Something similar applies to individuals and psychology). It takes a lot to get people to break the inertia and commit to doing something. And that is where introducing a timeframe can pay dividends. When the situation warrants, you should likely agree to a deadline – this will compel some form of action. Otherwise things may never get done due to Parkinson’s Law (work expands in order to fill the time needed for its completion.

(5) Follow up 

It cannot be stressed enough how important it is to follow up. I recently went car shopping and was shocked at how lazy some salespeople are. Same thing with some bankers I have met at the local branches. If they simply called me back or wrote me a follow up email, they may have gotten my business. But they didn’t and now they won’t. Don’t make the mistake of diminishing the importance of ANY of your clients, patients, or customers. You will lose them and their entire network. And don’t be lazy!

(6) Hustle!

Following up on the previous statement – it all begins with hard work and hustle. Hit the streets, pound the pavement, talk to everyone you can and let them know what you do, that you are available and want to help. If you don’t work hard someone else will reap all the rewards.


The key to becoming a great salesperson is to not think of it as selling!

If you believe in a product or a service (or yourself), I mean really believe, then it shouldn’t feel as if you are selling. People sense passion – and passion combined with the right attitude and ethic will lead to success. Good luck!

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