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The Six "P's" of Sales

Clint Maun, CSP

"Sales," the dirty word in healthcare. When we unlatch our doors and hang out the "open" sign, shouldn't business simply appear? In would come the customers for us to take care of, fix and heal.

This pie-in-the-sky scenario exists only if you have a great product and are the only one in the marketplace providing it. However, in the absence of such an ideal, you must market your products and services. You will have to close sales as people make decisions regarding the products and services offered by your healthcare organization.

A winning sales environment requires that all those who make business happen in your organization understand the Six P's of Sales, as well as their own strengths and weaknesses relating to each of these Six P's. How well do you do in each P? The six P's are The Power to Persuade People to Purchase Products or Services for Profit. Now, what does this mean?

Power: Do you possess the ability to influence the situation and the decision? Do you have the Power to make the business happen? Can you cut the deal? The Kansas Environmental Leadership Program states that “Power is not a thing, but is an aspect of all relationships among people.. . . [and] that our words, actions, and even inaction . . . all have an impact on others’ thoughts and behaviors.” Do your words and actions emanate the power to make the deal?

Persuade: Do you have Persuasive skills? Do you know how to handle objections? Can you effectively point out features and benefits of your products and services? Do your Persuasive skills communicate a win-win scenario with prospective customers? On the website MindSight, Carmine Baffa, creator of “Human Performance Engineering,” points out that “we cannot separate out communication and persuasion . . . [and] that you cannot communicate with another person without at the same time influencing that person.” Hone those communication skills to increase your power of persuasion.

People: Do you understand the types of people who fit your products and services? What do you know about them, and how well do you know them? Do you know the people to contact in order to create business? Do you have a people list, the contacts that give you the way to go about making business happen? How did you get to them? Have you profiled these people? Do you know their hobbies, interests, belief systems, and the world from which they come? Their "biography" is the tree of life for you.

Purchase: The website of the Small Business Administration offers this simple advice: “You must offer your products for a price your target market is willing to pay—and one that produces a profit for your company—or you won’t be in business for long.” Do you know the pricing of your products and services? Can you quote those prices? Do you know where the price of your products and services stand in relation to the prices of your competitors—and why? Can you move the business forward by saying "Here's what we have for you?"

Products: How well do you know your products and services? Do you know what they can do and what their results are? Can you clearly articulate your organization's expertise, niche, service delivery models, standard programs, as well as specially tailored programs to meet the customer's needs? Do you know the products and services so well that you can answer whatever questions your customers may have regarding them?

Profit: Do you understand how much profit is built into your products and services if you can cut the deals? Can you identify the amount of business, occupancy volume and numbers needed in order to be successful? Do you know what is needed to generate the necessary margin on each business unit? Have you broken down the products and services so that you clearly understand which ones are more profitable? Can you coordinate all this information to guarantee that the deal you make will generate a reasonable profit?

These Six P's define the professional sales person marketing products and services in a professional way. The Power to Persuade People to Purchase Products for Profit.

What if you are adept in only three of the six "P" areas? Your job is to develop your skills in the other three where you lack expertise. If your abilities fall short in areas where another person in your organization possesses prowess, and if your special know-how lies in those P's where the other person lacks deftness, consider the mutual benefits to be gained from an exchange of training. Learn from each other.

I must make it clear that to move the business ahead, you need to understand and have knowledge in all of the Six P's. If your skills lie in only some of them, you will not emerge as a fully rounded and capable sales professional: your influence will lag, your ability to close the deals will fall short,and your competitors will beat you in the marketplace.

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