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Business Lessons Learned From A Hospital Visit

Small Biz Doctor

My Mom had a seizure Monday night, so I flew from Chicago to New York on the first flight out yesterday morning to be with her in the Intensive Care Unit of her local hospital.

As I spent the day at her bedside, a number of thoughts went through my head.

Here are just two of them…

1. When doctors make suggestions, make no mistake that when the patient and/or his or her family agree to them, sales are consummated that often result in tens of thousands of dollars in revenue for the hospital.

And yet, unlike almost all other salespeople, a doctor’s suggestions are rarely questioned.

When a doctor says, “We want to keep you here for a couple of days to run some tests” (a proposal for a very big ticket sale), the patient and/or his or her family rarely counter with statements like, “Well, I’ll have to think about it – can you write me up a detailed proposal?” or “That’s a big decision – I’m going to call around to a few other hospitals” or “What’s the lowest possible discount price I can get if I stay an extra night?”

Of course not. Sounds completely silly, in fact, doesn’t it?

So what makes a doctor’s suggestions so universally respected and almost unquestioningly accepted, while just about every other professional, small business owner or salesperson works to figure out all kinds of sales strategies and tactics to use in order to convince their prospects to follow their advice?

It’s because doctors are masters of authority-based selling (even though most of them don’t know it, or won’t even admit that what they do is selling).

So the question for you to study and take action on is…

What can you do to position yourself as an unquestioned authority to your prospects, so that almost any suggestion you put forth is responded to quickly and positively?

*HINT: You don’t have to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars and years of your life obtaining a degree from some accredited university. Years ago, I founded a consulting firm that I called The Small Biz Doctor, so I could use some of the same authority-based techniques as medical doctors, including wearing the standard doctor’s “uniform”: suit, clipboard, stethoscope and all (see photo above), and using phrases in my marketing and sales scripts such as, “I’ll diagnose what’s causing your business to be not performing well, and prescribe a cure to get it feeling better than ever.”

People are conditioned to welcome a “diagnosis” and to say yes to the offer of a “cure.” Definitely beats saying, “Here’s my sales proposal. Do you want to buy or not?”

2. Spending a very long, stressful day here with my Mom in the Intensive Care Unit gave me a chance to reflect on a lot of great memories in my lifetime, thanks to her.

My Mom played a major role in shaping who I am today, and what I do for my own businesses and those of my clients.

Growing up, our household was always full of game-playing activities.

My Mom was a contract bridge Life Master, and made sure that my sister and I never just sat in front of the TV, passively consuming whatever the networks decided they wanted to force-feed our minds.

Instead, we were always playing board games and card games as a family. “According To Hoyle” was always handy near our kitchen table, and one of the fun and challenging activities my Mom had us engage in was to randomly pick a page out of the thick rule book of hundreds of card games, then learn and play whatever game was presented there.

This practice helped strengthen a skill that I’ve used over and over in the world of business: Looking at a problem or opportunity from multiple angles, and figuring out and executing a winning strategy to achieve success.

I was also extremely active in sports, clubs and contests – always looking for the next competition, contest or tournament to enter, and win.

And my Mom was always right there by my side, supporting me and cheering me on as I fought to overcome challenges and emerge
victorious over whatever opponent I was battling.

It was an honor and a pleasure to participate in the reversal of those roles yesterday, helping my Mom overcome the debilitating effects of her seizure and battle back to full health.

We’ve still got a little more time and effort ahead of us to win this battle, but you can bet that my Mom is once again leading by example, showing me how to take a challenge head on and fight with everything you’ve got to overcome it and come out on top.

Here’s to my Mom, the biggest Champion I know.

18 Responses to Business Lessons Learned From A Hospital Visit

  1. Phil Brakefield Reply

    December 17, 2014 at 5:50 am

    Steve, prayers and hugs to your Mom and you.

    She doesn’t realize it, but I owe her a favor because she raised a great friend of mine.

    Tell her to get well quickly so I can pay off the favor I owe.

    If you guys need anything…color it done.

    • Steve Sipress Reply

      December 17, 2014 at 8:28 am

      Thanks, Phil. I’ll tell her to get well quickly – but that probably won’t be the only time she doesn’t do exactly as I suggest.

      On a serious note, she is improving at a rapid rate. Doctors say they might move her out of ICU today.

      And of course I believe everything that every doctor says without question.

  2. Baeth Davis Reply

    December 17, 2014 at 6:19 am

    Steve –
    Blessings to you and your mom.

    Hugs to you,

    • Steve Sipress Reply

      December 17, 2014 at 8:29 am

      Thanks, Baeth!

      Hope everything is super with you!

  3. Mike lewis Reply

    December 17, 2014 at 8:04 am

    Our prayers are with you

    • Steve Sipress Reply

      December 17, 2014 at 8:30 am

      Thank you, Mike.

      Please give my very best to Carolyn.

      Thinking of you these days, because I’m getting ready to publish my next book early in the new year…

  4. Jeff Reply

    December 17, 2014 at 9:20 am

    that’s great – what you said about your Mom.
    She sounds like a real fighter.
    May she recover and get away from the doctors – asap!

    • Steve Sipress Reply

      December 17, 2014 at 1:58 pm

      I’m with you, Jeff – not a big fan of hospitals.

      Thanks for your kind words. Yes, my Mom has set an amazing example for me throughout my entire life of what it takes to be a winner.

  5. Larry Weinstein Reply

    December 17, 2014 at 9:28 am

    Great insight and advice re:authority…Spot on!!

    Hoping for a speedy recovery for your mom!!

    • Steve Sipress Reply

      December 17, 2014 at 1:59 pm

      Thank you, Larry. I’m glad you got a lot out of the article.

      My Mom seems to be recovering well – now off all machines and being moved out of Intensive Care Unit.


  6. Jim Reply

    December 17, 2014 at 9:38 am

    Great wisdom, as always.

  7. Tony Reply

    December 17, 2014 at 10:44 am

    Nice tie-in. Sending positive thoughts and prayers Steve!

  8. Mykel Andrews Reply

    December 17, 2014 at 11:31 am

    Great article Steve. My prayers are with you and your mom. Stay blessed.


    • Steve Sipress Reply

      December 17, 2014 at 2:01 pm

      Thank you, Mykel.

      My best wishes to you and your family, too.

  9. Michele Reply

    December 17, 2014 at 1:04 pm

    Such a lovely read. Your mother sounds like an amazing woman, Steve. God bless!

    • Steve Sipress Reply

      December 17, 2014 at 2:11 pm

      Thank you, Michele. I’m glad I could do her even the slightest bit of justice.

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