Is the notion that your physician is a salesman inherently disturbing? It is a question I have asked myself over the more than 35 years that I have been in practice.  I come from a family of salesmen.  My father and son are in fields traditionally viewed as sales. 

Yet I had never viewed what I did as sales–until I thought about it.  The truth is that we all salesmen but hopefully in the best sense of the word. In any field of endeavor, from businessman to artist to physician we are continuously “selling” ourselves to our clients, our colleagues, our patrons, our social contacts.

I am not talking about the stereotypical ” used car”  guy who uses high pressure, fast talk and disengenuous techniques to push you into a choice which may not be in your best interest. To my way of thinking sales is essentially demonstrating your best self.  It is about educating the client/patient about a product or service which will cost them financial resources but which will benefit them in someway (or not)  in the future. 

We all need to be good communicators, educators in effect.  A good salesman can explain the risks/benefits of that product/ssrvice is such a way as to make the decision easier.  If it is not a mutual consensus on what to do the, quite frankly, it should not be done. And yet there remains a strong element of uncertainty in any sales situation. Will the product or service be beneficial in the long run? Is there risk in consummating the sale or in not doing so? Of course.

 Is there an element of trust involved in such an interaction? Certainly.  The salesman almost always has the advantage in knowledge and experience regarding the product/service that are being negotiated. But that has been true and will always be true.  Ultimately, the leap of faith will prove to be mutually beneficial or not.  There will always be the element of uncertainty and risk that is inherent in any human interaction.Time will be the ultimate arbiter.

A “good” salesman, whether selling a dishwasher, car, insurance product or the need for a colonoscopy, will be vindicated in the long run.  Their client/patient will return to them, time and again.  They will recommend them to their friends and neighbors. It is as simple and complex as that.

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