Editor's Note: One of the most ridiculous psychological "hangups" collectively experienced by pharmacists, is their seeming inability to value the services they provide and charge accordingly.
The endless round of free services and discount prices, fuelled in part by major competitors, such as Chemist Warehouse and the ongoing bullying behaviour of the Colesworths of this world, has taken its toll on Australian pharmacists.
Add to this the endless rules and regulation that spew forth under the PBS, collective Pharmacy Boards and other agencies such as the TGA.
I can honestly say that at this very moment I find the profession of pharmacy
an empty profession and joyless to work in.
Everything has been made just too hard and complex on the production line that is now the dispensary.
I challenge every community pharmacist in Australia to just do four things:
1. Read Barry Urquhart's article right here.
2. Draw up and display in a prominent location, a complete list of the services you provide and price each one individually.
3. Prepare a booklet illustrating each service in detail. Don't spare the expense.
4. Budget some time and personally detail as many of your clients as possible.
Then go ahead and start marketing those great services.
I don't care if you discount them up to 100 percent for your clients and patients,,, but at least establish a value in the minds of consumers.
And who knows - this might be the start of something big!
Perhaps you might let me publicise your success stories. It only needs to begin with "the power of one".
Two major impediments short change too many businesses.
The seeming inability or reluctance to address and overcome consumer price sensitivity, together with the need to close the sale are the two biggest contributors to suboptimal performance by businesses, big and small.
In the vernacular, too much money is being left on the table or in the pockets of clients, consumers and customers because of the attitudes and (in)action of business people.
Price discounting, competitor tactics and overwhelming mass media campaigns are in reality secondary considerations for most businesses, in their pursuit of business, revenue and profit development.
The phenomena of “sales leakage” has encroached into the professions. Accountants, lawyers, bankers, financial planners and risk insurance consultants forsake large revenue streams because of an apparent lack of self confidence and pride in the quality and value of the services provided.
Ironically, it is the practitioners and retailers themselves who are most price sensitive. Consumers are typically uninformed or ill-formed on fee and cost structures.
Sadly, hesitant references to costs, fees, dollars and cents accentuate the varying perspectives and heighten sensitivity among the clients and customers.
The appropriate tack is to address the value proposition, of which price is one, but not only the key driver. Value is like an iceberg. Most of the package is not conspicuous and needs to be detailed so that others can appreciate the total bulk of what is being offered.
An anecdote about painter Pablo Picasso provides an appropriate perspective. Late in his life, while drinking coffee the artist was approached by a young child, a fan. Picasso quickly drew a pencil sketch and handed it to his adoring fan.
The father of the child enquired about what the true value of sketching would be. Free of modesty Picasso declared a figure which equated to some $20,000 (Australian).
The flummoxed father responded, “but it only took you minutes to draw!”
Pablo Picasso corrected him: “That sketch, sir, took me 76 years to draw.” That’s value!
Similar sentiments are often expressed about my customised conference keynote addresses. Some people express surprise about the fee which applies to a one hour presentation.
It is only after the facts are detailed that they appreciate the inherent value in a speaker and consultant who insists on a detailed briefing, undertaking background unannounced visits to premises, interviewing nominated leaders, compiling unique PowerPoint graphics, integrating pics into the visual aspects and providing exclusive pocket prompter documents which reinforce and expand upon the key points.
Resolving customer service issues often suffer from identical misperceptions. Understandably, many, if not most, customers are unaware of just what it takes to address and redress a circumstance to the satisfaction of the customer. It takes time, focus and discipline to explain to the customer, so that he or she will appreciate the inherent value in dealing with a company, brand and service provider who is dedicated to customer satisfaction. There are no shortcuts.
It is only with such disciplined approaches to interactions with customers that professionals develop their self confidence and belief in their right to ask for and conclude a sales/deal/contract after having invested time in interacting with the prospective customer.
The fear of rejection is omnipotent in business. Unresolved opportunities to “close the sale” relieves the customer of the need to make a decision and a commitment.
Every professional should recognise that the easiest decision to make for most customers is to make no decision at all. Accordingly, sales, profits and customers are lost to the business and industry, rather than to a competitor.
Many customers love to be sold. That assistance and input simplifies the decision making process. Satisfaction ensues.
Too many options can be and often are confusing and frustrating. Two alternatives can be attractive and compelling.
The asking of questions which identify, isolate and enable analysis of customer needs are the foundation steps of establishing, creating and packaging value. Exchanging that information is a catalyst for expediting the sales closure.
In the current marketplace one seldom, if ever, gets a second chance to conclude the mutually satisfying deal. Therefore, it is totally unreasonable and illogical to be sensitive to price and to hesitate in one’s endeavour to close the sale.
External forces in the marketplace, including interest rates, the value of the dollar, consumer confidence levels and competitor actions are often reasoned to be the cause of why sales budgets are not achieved or the full potential is not realised.
In reality, the true and ubiquitous reasons are an inner sensitivity to prices and the fear of rejection by professionals who ultimately lose more than just the sale.
Barry Urquhart, Managing Director of Marketing Focus, Perth is an internationally renowned conference keynote speaker, business analyst and author.
He regularly facilitates management workshops and strategic planning workshops, with particular emphasis on change, difference, customer satisfaction and non-price competitive advantage.