People Skills – Drs. & Salespeople
I was struck by a recent article in the New York Times on a “People Skills Test” being administered to aspiring medical doctors (http://www.nytimes.com/2011/07/11/health/policy/11docs.html.) It caught my attention, in part, because we frequently analogize the way good medical doctors conduct patient interviews with how salespeople interview their prospects. Indeed, we kick off our module on the twin investigation skills of questioning and listening with an exercise where we ask participants to role play doctors. We have them prepare for an upcoming appointment with a first time male patient, 29 years of age, complaining of headaches.
The outcome always is a list of excellent questions, the kinds of which salespeople should ask. The key point is that, while a headache could be a symptom of something that could be treated with something as simple as aspirin, it could also be a sign of a far more serious medical condition. Good doctors would never prescribe before they fully diagnose. Nor should salespeople.
At Virginia Tech Carillon, the nation’s newest medical school, admission goes beyond the traditional review of grade-point-averages and Medical College Admission Test scores. Candidates also need to demonstrate that they have the social skills to function effectively in a modern health care setting.
According to the article, two forces are driving this approach. One, there is a growing body of evidence that an “appalling share” of preventable deaths are caused by poor communication among and between doctors, nurses and patients. And two, modern medicine requires effective teamwork. In other words, being a good doctor demands both technical and social skills.
The parallel to selling is obvious. Product knowledge is not enough. Like doctors, salespeople need to have social and communication skills enabling them to win the trust of their clients.
It is here where the sales field is ahead of medicine. I make this assertion because in selling, education is offered to develop good communication skills. The view is that communication skills can be taught and learned in programs like we offer https://www.tildensst.com/course-descriptions. Medicine, on the other hand, is just beginning to assess for communication ability through Multiple Mini Interviews (MMI) they describe at Virginia Tech Carillon as though they are native talents.
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