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A Simple Reminder

By Todd Brodersen
December, 2018
How what ties us together as an industry can help set you apart as a sales rep

There is one thing that ties almost every person employed in animal health together. It’s something so basic and innate we tend to dismiss it after we’ve been in our positions for any length of time. It almost seems unimportant, or not worth mentioning. It is one of the basic human elements that we all love for other people to notice within ourselves, and yet showing it outwardly can make us feel vulnerable. 

I am talking about compassion. The Merriam-Webster definition of compassion is: “sympathetic consciousness of others’ distress together with a desire to alleviate it.” 

Committed to compassion
Almost every individual you encounter within a veterinary practice started their animal health career based on their compassion for animals. The veterinary oath is based on the definition of compassion. “As a member of the veterinary medical profession, I solemnly swear that I will use my scientific knowledge and skills for the benefit of society. I will strive to promote animal health and welfare, relieve animal suffering, protect the health of the public and environment, and advance comparative medical knowledge.”

Veterinarians are sworn to be compassionate, and committed to protecting the public and the environment, while providing a benefit to society. That is a very tall order for anyone to adhere to and believe in, and yet they do it. 

This level of commitment and sensitivity are often overlooked. We all get busy with our day-to-day lives. We worry about how the changes in our industry will affect our daily existence. We stress about the bills, the mortgage, the kids, the car, and the future. Our compassion may get repressed or pushed aside by more seemingly important topics. We take part of our own self-worth from the pride of having compassion, and yet it is one of the things that many people will ignore or hide on a regular basis. 

We think thoughts to ourselves like: “I don’t have time to get involved,” “I am sure that someone else will help,” or “I will do it next time.” Even so, there is an element of human nature that gives us a need to nurture. Even those folks you swear do not have a heart have something in their life that they care about deeply. That basic instinct that we so often forget to acknowledge is a constant for a huge portion of the people in animal health with whom you do business. The closer you get to the veterinary practices, the more prevalent the compassion.

Why they do it
As sales reps we are all looking for differentiation. How do we stand apart from the pack? How do we become invaluable to our clients? Isn’t it interesting that the one constant throughout all of animal health could be the one thing that sets you apart from your competitors?

Focusing on the emotions, the drive, and the commitment that made veterinarians and veterinary technicians choose their profession is not corny. It’s not something that should be set aside so that we can focus on business. It’s not a feeling that will just go away if we ignore it long enough. Deep down, there is a connection that can be made if motivating compassion is focused on in the right way. I’m not saying that we should all suddenly give money to the folks panhandling on every off ramp in America. I am promoting the use of a common bond to separate yourself from the pack.

Every practice that I am familiar with has a great rescue story. Practices have their favorite miraculous recovery stories. Veterinarians and veterinary technicians each have their own stories of when they saved an animal against great odds. They often have stories about the most grateful pet owners, and key experiences with those owners.

Get your customers talking about these compassionate acts and the results of which they are most proud. Start the dialogue. Get interested in the “why they do it” part of your customers. Create a campaign within a practice for the best compassionate story, the best recovery story, the most unbelievable recovery, and so on. Get veterinarians and technicians involved in the process. Figure out a way to make the spotlight on them while tying it to some sort of business goal or incentive. Allow the focus to be on them and their capabilities, and inadvertently draw them back to what got them into animal health to begin with. 

Connecting with your customers on this level will allow you to better understand them, and it will put the emphasis on their core values and position you as the rep that cares about more than their next order or your competition. Be bold and unashamed to bring back some of the feelings that drove many of us to a career in animal health. Affirmation of the compassion that we often choose to ignore will create a different level of connectivity that will be hard for competitors to match. Get your team of outside reps, inside reps, and manufacturer reps involved to develop a solid plan for using compassion to find success.

Topics: Sales, Sales Management

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