Be a Thoughtful Doctor, Not a Pitchman

Your back has been killing you for weeks, and you finally decide to book an appointment with a specialist to check it out.


Imagine the following two scenarios. Which doctor are you more likely to trust?

Doctor #1 opens the door to the exam room and immediately blurts out a question: “Why are you here today?” He asks how often you’re in pain, and then briefly examines your back and moves your legs around. He tells you it’s likely a herniated disc and explains the best solution is to have surgery.

It will cost you $15,000, he says, but it’s really the best option and it has a high success rate. What’s more, he’s one of the world’s best physicians at performing the surgery, he tells you. He sells himself and the surgery, hard. I think it’s safe to say most of us would want a second opinion after consulting with Doctor #1.

Doctor #2 asks similar questions, but more in depth. She talks to you about exactly when and where your pain occurs, what you’re doing when it hurts the most, exactly what it feels like, how it impacts your everyday activities, and your emotions surrounding the recurrent pain.

She asks, is this something you want to solve immediately, or can we make some small adjustments and then ride it out to see if it heals itself? She spends more time listening to you and asking about your wants and needs. She educates you about what might happen if the pain continues and you do nothing, and about the pros and cons of surgery and other treatment options. When you leave the appointment, you feel heard and empowered and you fully understand all the options available to you.

So, which doctor are you likely to trust, see again and pursue treatment with? I’m guessing it’s Doctor #2.

How does this relate to sales, you ask? It’s simple. Salespeople need to treat their customers like a thorough, thoughtful and caring doctor treats his or her patients.


The best salespeople have conversations that are diagnostic.

They ask pointed questions, they let their customers talk, they listen and they truly focus on customers’ needs and pain points. They help their customers evaluate all of the options and the pros and cons of each. They dissect the consequences of doing nothing.

A not-so-successful salesperson behaves much like Doctor #1. They’re a pitchman. They’re pushy and they jump to conclusions about customers’ needs. The conversation is focused on them rather than on the customer. Customers dealing with this type of salesperson will almost always seek out a second opinion.

The core of sales is about making people feel comfortable, confident and empowered, and guiding them to make the best decisions with your help. It’s about trust. As a salesperson, commit to being more like a trusted, caring doctor than a pitchman.