I’m writing this in the lobby of a car dealership, waiting for my vehicle to get serviced. I brought a couple of sales books with me so I could utilize the 2 hour wait. I recently took on the added role of part-time sales rep within Advera Health as I have experienced successful case studies first-hand through being our client-facing Product Specialist over the past two years: I’ve built relationships with our existing clients, received their feedback on our data tools & analytics to see how they’ve implemented the information, and witnessed how our Evidex platform has become an integral part of their workflow.
After being a part of that progression, I wanted to convey the utility of our platform to other Pharmacy Departments, health systems, etc. so we could further our goal of improving patient outcomes and reducing downstream costs incurred from unknown adverse events. So I just needed to learn more about sales to get started, and what better place to view this process than a car lot.
I open my book to where I left off, and see a word cloud in Daniel H. Pink’s To Sell is Human. It shows the top responses that came to participant’s minds when they thought of sales or selling. The biggest fonts were awarded to “car salesman” and “used car salesman” along with “pushy,” “yuck,” and “man in suit.” This was not only comically timed, but brought to mind the difference between a good salesperson and a “used car salesman.” It has to do with how you choose to influence people. Do the salespeople who approach you choose to influence you simply for their own gain, to make the biggest, quickest sale possible, without thinking of what your needs really are? Or are they getting to the root of your problems, giving multiple options that will help you to succeed in attaining your goals?
Of course we are still selling a product here at Advera – that’s why we all have jobs. But it’s easier to be a pushy salesperson when you’re selling something solely for profits, or to marginally reduce client’s costs by switching to a comparable alternative product. For us, our wider goal is to improve patient outcomes and reduce medical expenditures related to serious adverse reactions by making vital datasets accessible to our healthcare payers and providers. And there are no comparable alternative products. This makes it easier to be a bit noble-hearted about what we’re selling, but it can also be difficult at times to actually sell our product because there are no direct competitors to compare us to, since no one else has standardized the datasets we work with.
So we have to be really good at understanding the direct impact our platform has on lives and budgets in order to convey this information to our prospective clients. And we usually have to sift through thousands of health, hospital, and medical center organizations until we reach people forward-thinking enough to spare a few minutes to see the major monetary and patient safety benefits that this new source of information holds for their institution.
There are 8 definitions of “sold” or “selling” in Merriam-Webster, all but one of which are pretty disheartening to a newly dubbed salesperson due to their negative connotations. And this makes sense, given the history of this arena. Honestly, at first I wasn’t sure I was cut out for this kind of work, because I didn’t see myself as “salesy.” But there’s a different part of sales that is often overlooked. Salespeople get a bad reputation as slimy, self-serving, quick-tongued used car salesmen because of the association with hiding information from prospective clients (i.e. purchasing a lemon from a guy named Sal with a comb-over in an orange plaid suit). Prospects used to have to rely on salespeople for information, because it wasn’t easily attainable, and when they got scammed it increased their sense of skepticism about other salespeople in the future.
Now, unlike in the 1970’s, information is readily accessible to anyone with internet access. This enables prospective clients to gather information about competing companies, and know the high and low points of what you’re selling in comparison. Many of the folks I talk to are not familiar with FDA’s Adverse Event Reporting System (FAERS), and there’s not much in the way of competition for our offerings, which was a hindrance at first because it was uncharted territory. Since our platform is not used in every major medical center, our name and value is not readily accessible in most people’s minds (yet!). But I’m confident that my first-hand experience in successfully implementing the information we provide will be a helpful tool in opening conversations with new prospects, and eventually closing more deals, which will feed into the cycle of getting even more experience with new client types.
Plus, we make portions of our Drug Evidence Review articles available to prospects, so they can see the level of detailed analysis that can be accomplished by using the data from our platform, and the kinds of services we provide to our clients.
Unfortunately these long-held sales stereotypes are not likely to budge much anytime soon, especially since a lot of salespeople are still using old techniques of trying to work their prospects instead of working with them to achieve both parties’ goals. I don’t envision that I will single-handedly change the sales game from my roles at Advera Health, but I am looking forward to forging strong relationships with the clients and prospects I am fortunate enough to work with through this company. We’re doing something different here, working with a set of data people haven’t heard of before, so it’s understandable that some are not willing to set aside 15 minutes for an overview of our platform’s capabilities. But when healthcare decision makers, product liability insurers, pharma folks, etc. take a few minutes to understand what we do, they immediately see the value we are providing by filling a huge information gap and giving them access to unbiased data and analytics. It’s truly a game-changer that people have to see to understand, but we’re gaining more traction every day with forward-thinking individuals who share our passion of positively impacting health and hospital systems in the U.S. and overseas.
Feel free to reach out if you’d like to learn more about how others are utilizing this information to make more informed prescribing, litigation, and product liability decisions.
P.s. I’ll have to get a new header photo to cover all the bases, but take this one for now.
Andrea R. Demakas, Product Specialist/Business Development Manager/Etc.