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Avoidance, sometimes even more than appeal, appears to be a very real part of decision making at every level. Given sufficient probing, most sales prospects harbor inner fears that can be successfully addressed.
Buyers of occupational health services have two basic motivations: helping their parent company save money, and making their own life easier.

Most occupational health sales presentations emphasize the former: reduce injury/illness incidence and associated lost work time, save the employer money, and everyone is happy. The second motivating factor is often ignored. Sales pro- fessionals often minimize the “me first” factor or ignore it altogether, even though many people are inherently parochial. They are deeply concerned about their own finite time, daily burdens, and professional success.

Understanding a few simple principles, and breaking down those principles into distinct professional and personal factors, may help link the two “basic motivations” identified above.

Principle 1: Assess the potential importance of a prospect’s parochial interests during a sales encounter.
Prospects run the gamut of personality types, from those who genuinely place the welfare of their company above all else to those who are card-carrying members of the “me, myself, and I” crowd. Each of these types has its particular priorities:

  • Professional Factors:
    • Save the company money. Enhance worker health status.
  • Personal Factors
    • Save the prospect time. Save the prospect “hassle.”
    • Make the prospect look better. 

You should be able to assess just where each prospect seems to fall on this continuum, and position your sales approach accordingly.

Principle 2: Use questions to determine where the prospect sits on the “care about my company/care about  myself” continuum.

Questions should be crafted to readily identify a pressing problem that can be placed on the table. Typically, the inclination when trying to make a sale may be to ask about purely professional problems (i.e., what is your company’s most significant health and safety problem?).

As part of this process, however, it may be helpful to also investigate the personal ramifications of a prospect’s professional challenges. Classic questions might include:

  • “What activity causes you to lose the most amount of valuable time?”
  • “When it comes to workers’ compensation costs (or workplace health and safety) what must you personally need to achieve to really be successful?”
  • “When it comes to the health and safety of your workforce, what is your worst nightmare? That is, what keeps you up at night?”

Responses to questions such as these serve two purposes. First, you can usually place the prospect on a pretty reliable place on the “care about my company/care about my- self” continuum. If the prospect offers little in response to the preceding questions, they are likely to be on the “best for my company” side of the continuum. Conversely, a prospect that confesses to significant personal challenges is more likely to be responsive to solutions that help them (i.e., save them time and/or make them look good).

Second, you now know not only that your solution should include an appeal to their self-interest, but you have a good line on what their personal “hot buttons” are. The sales process tends to be all down hill from there.
Principle 3: Include, as appropriate, a “what’s in it for them” point in every benefit statement.

Once having detected the relative importance of personal issues, you can craft their benefit statement(s) accordingly:

  • Heavy “company” orientation: “Our unique com- puterized focus on return-to-work outcomes pro- vides your company with the best chance to reduce unnecessary costs and enhance the health status of your ”
  • Company/personal blend
  • “Our approach serves two vital purposes: we emphasis early return-to-work, thus reducing unnecessary lost work time and your workers’ compensation related costs, while at the same time allowing you to spend more time addressing other important issues.”
  • Heavy personal orientation
  • “Our injury/illness prevention programs focus on early return-to-work and will likely reduce the time that you have to spend on such cases, thus providing you with more time for other matters and making your life a lot easier.”

A salesperson should not minimize or ignore the potential importance of their prospect’s personal self- interest. Learn to assess the degree of such self-interest, and craft recommendations and benefit statements  in accordance with these interests.

Fear as a Factor in Occupational Health Sales