Sales Skills Matter

About one third of prescriptions written are never filled.  That implies that drug companies and pharmacies could increase their sales by 50% if all were filled. 

How is it that these are not purchased?

For some, it could be the money.  You cannot buy what you cannot pay for and many people cannot afford drugs.  Sometimes the drug companies will help, but you need to ask.  No one asks if they do not know about the programs.

Sometimes the patient is fearful or not trusting.  Absent knowledge is a primary inducer for fear.

For others, the connection between benefit and the trouble of filling the prescription is unclear.  Current cost and trouble for a future benefit is often a losing trade for future person.

There is a common element in all.  Doctors are not salespeople.  They don’t want to be and they are untrained to be. Persuasion is more than prescribing

Sometimes they forget that a very good solution not implemented is indistinguishable from no solution.

Every professional, indeed every person, should formally learn persuasion skills.  Health care professionals may save a life.  Accountants and lawyers may save money.  Parents dealing with toddlers may retain their sanity.

As an added bonus, people who understand the process cannot be as easily mislead by persons using trickery or false premises.  They become better buyers, better bosses, better parents, and better voters.

Poker expert Mike Caro has simplified the fundamental of persuasion into  “The Law of Loose Wiring.” 

“If choices are not clearly connected to their benefits, people usually interact in ways that make outcomes unpredictable.

If choices are clearly connected to their benefits, people sometimes act in ways that make outcomes unpredictable.”

The key elements.

  1. “Clearly connected to benefits”  That is where some medical people fail.  Find better connectors.
  2. “Usually interact in ways that make outcomes unpredictable”  Outcomes are unpredictable at the best of times and they are even more unpredictable when the benefit to acting is unclear.  Seek feedback and try other methods.
  3. “Sometimes act in ways that make outcomes unpredictable.”  There are no certainties in life, but you can make a fine living going with tendencies.

Persuasion is about more than facts.  Consider the mood of the client or the professional.  Consider past experience with the same situation.  Consider social and peer pressure. Experiment. Pay attention.

Learn to connect to people in ways they can accept.  Stories and examples persuade.  Science does not.  Science seldom conveys meaning.  Stories allow the client to connect to their personal meaning.  Be sure to find what that may be.

It does not matter how true and important what you say is if the other person ignores you.  Build your repertoire of persuasion skills.


Don Shaughnessy is a retired partner in an international public accounting firm and is presently with The Protectors Group, a large personal insurance, employee benefits and investment agency in Peterborough Ontario.

This entry was posted in Communication, Decision Making, Insight to Business, Personal Finance and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

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