Today we are going to talk about sales. According to Robert Herjavec you'll have little success in business at any level without mastering sales so that makes it a good topic. But what makes people bad at sales? Sales is about interacting with people -- about connecting. If you dread sales it might be time to apply some Reality Therapy to your sales process.
Let's consider some examples of ideas that stand as obstacles to sales and broaden the gap between you and your prospective customers:
Marketing obviates sales
This is true if you have an enormous budget. It is untrue (or impossible advice to utilize) if you do not have such a budget.
Marketing isn't a department or a set of activities, it is a machine. Marketing is to sales what a hospital is to a doctor. Marketing is to sales what the wind is to a sailor. Marketing cannot reach out and touch a customer -- it tells you who to reach out to and where to touch.
I can spend 30% of my time on sales
According to a recent Forbes article new businesses actually need to spend 80% of their time on sales. An established business can drop that down to 30%.
You must achieve product mastery prior to going to market
This is not true. Market entry in laboratory informatics should be based on some objective measures and testing. It should cost you to run the tests and compile/interpret the data but will be far less expensive than producing an entire product. You've probably heard the term minimum viable product (or MVP). The idea is that you build a simple version of the product, hand it over to users for testing, and if they'll buy it (and they represent a significant number of other potential buyers) you have a potential business. The problem with this strategy is that, for scientific buyers, your marketing machine needs additional stuff. These buyers are much more discerning and sales must be ready to produce evidence that the product works before delving into it.
If you want a good set of testing guidelines for products then borrow heavily from the FDA's Design Considerations for Pivotal Clinical Investigations for Medical Devices, paying close attention to Section 7.4 titled Controls in Comparative Clinical Outcome Studies parts A and B. There are four recognized controls but two are of great interest to the would-be laboratory informatics product developer: "(a) No treatments. Where objective measurements of effectiveness are available and placebo effect is negligible, comparison of the objective results in comparable groups of treated and untreated patients; (b) Placebo control. Where there may be a placebo effect with the use of a device, comparison of the results of use of the device with an ineffective device used under conditions designed to resemble the conditions of use under investigation as far as possible..."
In short, your product has to establish that it beats doing nothing and the placebo effect. Doing nothing is likely the current status of the client and is probably the most easy to establish. Ineffective (placebo) product is a bit harder because both groups have to have an equal chance of executing the solution. Software solutions look VERY different; the groups won't be fooled. A solution here might be to execute the test such that the operators do not actually interact with the software but instead make requests of a designated operator in another room. One operator will use the traditional process and the other will use the new process but the requester will have no idea which is being used.
If you cannot do sales the problem may actually be that you really have a problem interacting with people outside of your small world. You need practice, a plan of action, and a methodology that aims to help you connect with people. In our little neck of the informatics woods some of your conversation will have to substantiate your product claims so perform tests and be ready with those results. The Reality Therapy principles might prove to be of great assistance in helping you overcome your connectedness problems.Go Back
Citation: TWIR: Sales Reality Therapy. (2015). Retrieved Wed Mar 22 22:17:33 2017, from http://www.limsexpert.com/cgi-bin/bixchange/bixchange.cgi?pom=limsexpert3;iid=readMore;go=1422643013