10 Things Doctors Don't Get About Sales and Marketing

Many biomedical and health marketing and sales people ask about tips and techniques on how to sell to doctors. But, very few doctors have much interest in how to market and sell to patients and other customers. The conventional wisdom goes that they are "too busy" or "don't have the time" and that they are trained to take care of patients, not take care of business. 

I disagree, as I've explained in many other posts. Here are 10 things docs don't seem to understand about healthcare sales and marketing:

1. That they are different.

2. That they are complementary and have to be aligned.

3. That the sales plan should not be an afterthought when building the business model canvas or business plan for a new venture.

4. That branding is not sales and marketing.

5. That the Internet and social media have revolutionized how they both are done.

6. That service after the sale is just as important as selling the product and that they need to pay attention to the aftermarket.

7. That they need to worry about this. It’s not good enough to ignore it because they work for someone else who does it or they think they are busy enough.

8. That they shouldn’t just outsource sales and marketing to someone else and just see patients.

9. That they can’t just depend on word or mouth referrals. It used to be docs played golf with their friends, but they now work on Wednesdays.

10. That despite all the articles about the shortage of doctors, simply hanging out a shingle won’t be enough to drum up business. 

According to the definition of the American Marketing Association (the other AMA), marketing is the activity, set of institutions, and processes for creating, communicating, delivering, and exchanging offerings that have value for customers, clients, partners, and society at large. Sales describes the exchange of goods or services for money.

In other words, marketing is what you do before and after the sale.

The main reason most doctors are not sales and marketing savvy is that they never had to be. But, times have changed. Maybe with an attitude adjustment, they'll be able to get in a quick 18 holes after all. 

Arlen Meyers, MD, MBA is the President and CEO of the Society of Physician Entrepreneurs at www.sopenet.org