Tim Huffaker 2017There are many similarities between medical doctors and salespeople.  

In making these comparisons I mean no disrespect to either profession.  I know doctors would never think of themselves as a salesperson, however, if both the doctor and the salesperson are effectively practicing their profession, they are doing many of the same activities and striving to arrive at the same conclusion.  The human body is susceptible to disease, accident, aging and many other ailments. All of these conditions require the professional help of doctors. Some health-related issues are complicated and challenging, while others are more routine but still in need of attention.  Regardless of the extent of the condition, the patient is looking for a diagnosis and a cure. That is precisely what doctors do, they diagnose and cure.

The profession of selling is similar to medicine in terms of diagnosing and curing pain.  People and companies experience painful problems or situations and they are looking for products or services that will take away the pain and solve the problems.  The salesperson must be able to properly diagnose the pain, and then through their knowledge and experience, prescribe the proper solution to relieve the suffering.  That is pretty much all selling is–finding pain and prescribing relief. If there is no pain, then there will likely be no sale. Just as in the field of medicine, if there is no illness, the doctor has nothing to prescribe.  Again, just as medicine requires a doctor to be an excellent diagnostician to discover the cause of the pain, a salesperson must be equal to the task of properly diagnosing the needs of the customer.

There are many different remedies and cures in the world of medicine and the same is true for sales.  There are many products that provide similar solutions. Each has different approaches, ingredients, directions and side effects while providing equally similar results.  Doctors, as well as salespeople, prescribe the best solutions or cures that they are familiar with. However, the beginning point for each of these noble professions is the diagnosis.  

One of my favorite movie characters is Lieutenant Columbo, from the TV series that aired in the ’70s and ’80s.  Columbo’s greatest strength in solving a case was his ability to diagnose the suspects through questioning. His questions would reveal the information necessary to solve the crime.  Doctors ask questions as one part of their diagnosis. They also examine the evidence i.e., blood work, urinalysis, blood pressure, heart rate, electrocardiograms, etc. The salesperson has two very effective tools for diagnosing a customer or prospect’s pain, effective questioning and observation of current practices and procedures.  The better a salesperson understands his customer and how they make a profit, the more likely he will be able to provide the necessary products and services. Questions and observation are the answer to finding the pain. A salesperson cannot ask too many questions in their quest to find the pain. Those salespeople who ask too few questions may never discover the real problems and will never provide the correct solutions.  The world reveres and respects great doctors and likewise believes and trusts salespeople who properly diagnose needs and present the correct solutions.