A successful occupational health sales professional should develop a mechanism to monitor his or her choice of words and commit to using the English language to the mutual advantage of both the provider and the sales prospects. However, sales professionals often make poor word choices at critical moments.

Negative words abound in our daily vocabulary. Frequently used negative words include bad, poor, problem, complication, unacceptable, and difficult. When calling on an occupational medicine prospect, these words should be replaced with positive words such as opportunity, success, improvement, progress, etc.

Inappropriate words tend to fall into two categories: calling attention to a negative and exhibiting uncertainty. Both tendencies can be overcome by proactively focusing on positive, active words.

A common error is to assume the other party is already aware of a negative. For example, one might point out that “our parking problems have now been resolved,” when the prospect had no idea there was ever a parking problem in the first place.

  • “Exhibiting uncertainty” may be exemplified by treadingtoo lightly with overly passive statements, such as:
  • “Is it possible that…?”
  • “Perhaps….”
  • “Can we…?”
  • “Is it okay if…?”
  • “Do you think…?”

Instead, a firm, positive demeanor should reign. For example, “Is it possible for me to meet with your CFO to get a better handle on your real costs?” is better posed as “We find that meeting with a company’s CFO provides us with an opportunity to better focus on your unique experience.”
Several other basic rules will help keep interactions positive:

  • Respect your prospect. There is a narrow line between criticizing a company and calling attention to its shortcomings in a graceful manner. Rather than “your injury rate exceeds the national norm,” advise that “it appears there is a real opportunity to make a difference in your workers’ comp expenses.” Never tell a prospect that they should do something; rather, suggest that they do something. While you are at it, look for and tell the prospect what they are doing right. To quote Dale Carnegie, “Offer honest and sincere appreciation whenever possible.” Finally, get to the point and respect a prospect’s time. At the outset, confirm how much time the prospect has for you and stick to their preferred time frame.
  • Qualify your suggestions. Qualify anything that is not a fact with phrases such as “in my opinion,” or “from my perspective.” You cover yourself should you be wrong, and offer an appreciated dose of humility.
  • Nothing is guaranteed. Do not “guarantee” anything. You are better off telling the prospect “although we cannot guarantee that we will lower your lost work time, we believe our focus will provide your company with the greatest likelihood of making a difference.”
  • Develop a standard opening. You have only a few seconds to generate a good first impression. Those seconds should be carefully crafted and made into a routine. Be firm, confident, respectful, and to the point.

Develop a standard summary statement. The most important thing someone says is invariably what they say as they are “walking out the door.” The statement should reflect your competitive advantage nd desire to work with your prospect’s company.

Out with the Negative, in with the Positive

Old phrasing: We hope to work with you.
New phrasing: We believe that we can make a real difference in your workplace health and safety.
Old phrasing:We specialize in addressing your health and safety problems.
New phrasing:We specialize in working with employers to enhance the health and safety of their workforce.
Old phrasing: You can reduce lost work time by developing a strong pre-placement screening program.
New phrasing: We find that companies like yours often reduce total lost work time by developing a strong preplacement screening program.
Old phrasing: If you work with us, we will reduce your total workers’ compensation costs by at least 10%.
New phrasing: We feel confident that we can reduce your total workers’ compensation costs by 10% or more.
Old phrasing: You should develop a drug-testing program.
New phrasing: In my opinion, you should develop a drugtesting program
Old phrasing: Is it possible to schedule an orientation meeting with your first-line supervisors next week?
New phrasing: We find that an orientation meeting with first-line supervisors is a critical first step in developing a productive relationship with our employer clients.

Emphasizing the Positive Gets Results in Occ Med Sales