Good sales skills are among the most important qualities biomedical department managers can develop when they want to introduce new programs or expand services to other areas of the hospital. Those of us who trained in technology are under the impression that hard work and doing our job to the best of our ability are all that we need to gain recognition and growth for our departments. The reality however is that the most efficient and effective departments are not always the most successful at achieving their objectives. The key to most success depends on your ability to sell yourself, your department, and your ideas effectively.
Many of us have the impression that the ability to sell requires that you be outgoing, talkative, assertive and gregarious. These are all of the characteristics of an extrovert and are not the typical traits of technologists who tend more towards introversion. Fortunately, being an extrovert is not a requirement for selling your ideas and anyone who is willing to make the extra effort can learn to sell their ideas effectively.
One of the key points in selling your ideas is not to focus on your performance and skills. Instead, you should focus on how you can solve your customer’s problem. For example; if you are trying to expand your services into the Imaging Department don’t spend lots of your time talking about the money you will save, focus your argument on how you can reduce equipment downtime by being able to respond to service requests within minutes as opposed to the two or three hour response normally expected from vendors. Explain the benefits of reduced downtime in terms of fewer disruptions to patient schedules and less revenue loss while equipment is out of service. Explain how fewer disruptions mean fewer complaints from physicians and patients. Also, if you are attempting to expand your services into another department, be willing to take small steps and prove your capability by offering to take “first call” on one or two devices. Once you have proven yourself, it will be easier for you to gradually expand as you take on more responsibility.
Always remember that most department heads tend to avoid risk by resisting change especially if the changes you are suggesting might not be successful. To overcome some of this resistance, support your argument with articles or surveys from other hospitals who have successfully implemented the types of programs that you are proposing. Be prepared to list the names of other department heads within your hospital who are pleased with your services. By providing solid information on the quality of your services, you will tend to minimize any risk associated with your proposal and make it easier for the reluctant department head to risk changing.
Before you make any proposal, take the time to prepare your presentation. Prepare print materials or power points so that they can be easily grasped by your audience. Find a friend or colleague who is willing to listen to your presentation and offer an honest critique. Develop a list of objections that your audience may have and be prepared to answer them positively. By adopting the habits of successful salespeople which involve focusing on your customers’ problems, taking small steps, developing and rehearsing a coherent presentation you should begin to find much more acceptance in your attempts to expand your services.
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