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How to Develop Salespeople

Are You Really Respecting Your Customers?

Okay. So, welcome to another one of my Todd Talks, which always exist to inspire and equip people with ideas that you can use immediately to improve your leadership, make a greater difference in the world, and hopefully, help other people do the same. So as many of you know, we spend a lot of time developing leaders and senior teams inside of organizations, but what you may not know is we also spend a lot of time training customer facing people inside of commercial organizations. Account managers, sales reps, and for our biotech and pharma clients, their MSLs and FRMs, medical science liaisons or other medical personnel and professionals and field reimbursement managers.

And we love doing this work as well because we see every conversation that they have with their customers as an opportunity for them to serve and to do some real good in the world. Take, for example, an account manager’s conversation with an oncology physician, and these conversations can have a huge impact on the choices physicians make about how they’re going to treat their patients, which can in turn have a huge impact on patients’ lives, and in some cases, whether they will actually live or die.

But too many customer facing folks hold themselves back from fully serving their customers because of an antiquated notion of what it means to be respectful to their customers. So today, I’m going to share with you a story of Georgio, who had a paradigm shift about what it means to be respectful that enabled him to serve his customers much better. And here’s what Georgio had to say in his own words.

 “Because of the breakthrough conversations program, I had a paradigm shift around my entire role. As a medical person, my purpose is to help physicians make more informed decisions about how to best treat their patients. Before the program, I felt this meant I was simply meant to deliver clinical trial and real world evidence data and to answer any questions they had about the data. Out of respect for them, I was never supposed to question their conclusions or to offer alternative perspectives. I now realize that I need to do much more than that if I’m going to help my customers make the best possible decisions for their patients. I need to ask them questions about how they’re interpreting the data, how these interpretations are going to affect their prescribing decisions, and to respectfully challenge those conclusions and offer other possible conclusions when needed.

And I’m doing that much more now, and to my surprise, I think my customers are enjoying our conversations much more, probably because they’re a lot more interesting. And they’re also getting a lot more value from me and are a much better position to make good decisions for their patients. This is also generating positive business outcomes for us. With one center in particular, our sales are double in the first quarter of this year alone compared to what they were for the entirety of last year.”

So as I think you could see from the story, Georgio previously held himself back from questioning his customers’ conclusions out of his sense of genuine respect for his customer. But I guess the question for you and the question for all of us is was Georgio’s previous hands off definition of respect actually respectful? And was his newfound more hands on approach toward respect disrespectful?

Well, I guess that depends upon how you define respect. If by respect, you mean holding back your questions, holding back your opinions so other people are free to make their own decisions unfettered by outside thinking, then Georgia was certainly being respectful. But I personally think that if we’re truly committed to serving people, to doing good in the world, then we can’t cleave to a way of thinking about respect that deprives other people of new ways of thinking, of new truths that may differ from their own.

And that’s because none of us are perfect reasoning creatures. We all suffer from our own blind spots and biases, and out of respect for this reality, perhaps one of the most respectful things we can do is start treating each other like adults who are capable of considering perspectives outside of our own and critically reasoning about our own choices.

Okay. So thanks for listening. I hope you found this valuable and I look forward to talking to you next time. But in the meantime, be candid, be collaborative, be compassionate, and most of all, be curious.

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