Sales reps bring value. There, I said it. Marketing-type folk do too. And guess what else? Sometimes the customer, or more often, the prospect, isn’t right.
Let’s face it, the temptation is there – and often all too strong – to put the customer on a high, nigh unreachable pedestal, especially in an industry such as ours where the customers are healthcare professionals. Titles such as DDS, DMD, RDH, etc can be intimidating. You may not have such a title after your name. You are still, however, a professional with value beyond your product.
You know your product. The professionals you serve are speaking to you because of that. You know the nuances, the subtle, oft-forgotten features & benefits, and the experiences of your other clients who have integrated it into their practices.
Make no mistake, we shouldn’t attempt to put ourselves on their level when it comes to clinical knowledge and expertise (unless you have that training & experience, of course). However, the art of being a professional in an industry serving professionals lies in embracing the value you bring beyond the product. Separate yourself from the mere order takers, “yes” people, and stick fetchers. Challenge your prospects and their misconceptions when they need it. Ask them the questions which make them take pause, which make them really think about their practice and their vision for it. Ask for commitments. Heck, engage in debate. In doing so, you will really be engaging the prospect and deepening the relationship. They’ll appreciate that you, “just a rep”, stepped up and acted as a real professional.
Marketers, this concept isn’t limited to reps in the field. You have an opportunity to challenge pre- and misconceptions of your constituencies from sales leadership to finance management. It’s easy to get lost in the details & tactics, the need for tearpads in the field to support a promotion or the creative for a new ad campaign. While these things are important, you have an obligation as a marketing professional to take a big picture, strategic approach. It can be difficult in the face of demands for more “stuff” from the field balanced by demands to spend less from accounting. Again here’s the art. Embrace your role in driving strategy through the marketing function. Resist the urge to implement a tactic simply because it’s what was done last year. Collaborate with Sales on new ways to meet needs in the field as well as more deeply engage prospects. Sit down with Finance and explain the goals and metrics for that integrated campaign and how it will move the needle. You too have an obligation to step up and be more than “just a marketing” guy or gal.
As our customers & prospects are oral healthcare experts the patterns and pedestals can be set early. Remain cognizant of your value and your own expertise. Step up and set yourself apart. Your prospects, clients, sales teams, and other constituencies will recognize and appreciate it. Break the patterns. Go pro.