Have you ever come to the end of an appointment with a doctor or lawyer and told them that you were going to shop around?  I have not.  It has never even crossed my mind.  How can we give our businesses such an iron clad sales process?

Doctors and lawyers are solution providers.  Their scheduled patients and walk-in clients are the same as our inbound leads.  They come with problems and want help.

Doctors and lawyers do not take sales courses as part of their studies, but they apply without being necessarily aware of it, certain sales techniques that we can all learn from.

Would you like to have your customers buy on-the-spot?  Here is how doctors and lawyers do it:

They Ask The Right Questions And Listen 

Doctors and lawyers get deep quick.  They do not waste time by asking general questions, but they move to the meat of the matter readily by asking pain and problem based questions.  The questions they ask encourage the client or patient to open up and elaborate.   For example:

  • Where do you feel pain and how intense is it?
  • When did your pain start?
  • How and why do you think this started?

After doctors and lawyers ask questions, they let us talk.  They listen, take notes, and listen more.  When we are asked pain and problem questions, we most often instinctively want to divulge our whole problem.  With the right questions and an open dialogue, doctors and lawyers can get a full view of the client´s or patient´s situation and make recommendations.

Sometimes potential buyers are unable to specifically pinpoint their problem but know they are in pain.  To assist them to identify their problems, ask in-depth questions to help them pinpoint what challenges them.  This takes a bit of practice and putting yourself in the buyer’s shoes, but you need not reinvent the wheel at each meeting.  Create a question bank for yourself from which you can choose questions on the fly during each meeting.  Include leading questions – questions that help you get to the meat of the matter and quickly understand your buyer’s vision, problems and pain.  Here are some examples:

  • How are you currently doing process X? (i.e.  refer to the process or business task that your service is a solution to)
  • How is that working out?
  • What is working out well in the current situation? What is not working so well?
  • How is this way of doing of things affecting your bottom or top line?
  • What challenges are you facing?
  • What is the vision you are trying to achieve?

Asking such questions allows you to open a dialogue and quickly understand the buyer´s problem and then link it to your recommended solution.  At the same time, while the buyer is talking and feeling ¨listened to¨, a sense of trust and relationship begins to form between you and your buyer.

Their Solutions Relate Directly To The Problem

Doctors have a full understanding of different drugs and procedures that can cure your condition and alleviate your symptoms.  Lawyers have an understanding of the law and solutions to help you with your bind.  They have dozens of means to help you; however while meeting with you, they do not feel the need to list every solution that they offer and every service that could help you.   Of course not! They do not ‘product dump’ you like many sales professionals still often do (consciously or not).

Doctors and lawyers follow a set of steps to recommend the best solution in the most time effective way.  For them, time is money, so they use their time to only focus on solutions to your problems.  They listen intently to your problem, and mentally sort through their list of solutions. Lastly, they propose the solution that will specifically solve your problem, explaining to you the risks and pros/cons.

Stop selling services to your buyers and start proposing solutions.  You can do this in several ways, for example:

  • Research the buyer and his industry before meeting and think through what solutions could be of interest
  • Use your presentation or script as a bank of ideas and only present the services that directly relate to the buyer
  • Run or encourage your sales manager to host a workshop with the whole sales team to identify different buyer profiles/problems and pre-match solutions to those profiles
  • Practice out loud your presentations for each buyer profile. Propose your solution explaining exactly how it benefits them.  Practice until the words come easily
  • ALWAYS include specific benefit statements in any form of communication to the buyer (Ie. Proposals, presentations, or emails)
  • When you are in the meeting with the buyer: be switched on, listen to the problems the buyer states, and be agile to link and communicate how your service is a solution

They Use An Assumptive Close

After we have explained our problems and they propose objectively sound solutions, the decision to ‘buy’ falls back into our hands.  How many times have you found yourself in a doctor´s or lawyer´s office thinking: ¨I will pay anything to fix this?”

Doctors and lawyers do not use any tricky closes.  They wait for you to agree on one of the proposed solutions.  If they do not hear anything from you, then they ask you when you are ready to start.

Why do we not haggle with their fees?  Because we trust them, they have assessed our needs, they have offered us a solution that is valuable to us, and we want to take action now.

We do not have to use tricky closes either.  Asking the right questions, listening, and proposing solutions that are objectively sound and solve the buyer´s problems will encourage them to want to take action now.  A sales process that incorporates all of these steps does not require a tricky close: the buyer closes himself.

For instance:  Consider using questions like: “How does that sound?” “Which option would like to implement?” or, “When are you ready to start?”  These are closing questions that, after having gone through a robust sales process, can do the trick for doctors, lawyers and even you.

In the sales world, we may believe that doctors and lawyers are completely different from us, but their clients and patients are very similar to our buyers.  Our buyers also seek a trusted environment in which to share their problems to receive sound advice and a solution that makes sense.  Creating a sales process that mimics this environment is a great first step towards closing more business.

Jennifer Baxavanis,
Sales Performance Consultant & Coach

Jennifer Baxavanis is a sales performance consultant & coach based in Dubai.   She helps sales teams increase sales through their performance directly with prospective buyers.  The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of her employer.