Robinson Sells The NHS

The Beeb’s approach over the past decade to pop-business shows is laudable.  The only series I can recall being a dud was the Adrian Chiles pathetic ‘what do you do all day?’ nonsense.  The rest all pursue a Radio4, Broadsheet type agenda, yet put across in plain English, and this addition which I’ve seen over the past couple of nights is a worthy addition.  As I’m off out tonight and will miss the final show, I thought I’d review it now.

Gerry Robinson is the latest in a long line of business ‘troubleshooters’.  Now passed the Autumn of his business career he tackles other people’s problems.  His task here is reducing infamous, unnecessarily long waiting lists within the “world’s third largest employer”, the National Health Service.

Most of the show is devoted to highlighting the canyon-wide differences between all major categories of players, and saying that ‘good old fashioned proper management’ would sort it all out.  Although more of a general business study, certain sales tactics have shone through that Gerry uses, and here are a few nuggets:

Meeting Venues – Why is it that every meeting we tend to have as salespeople is always in the same place?  Most often, a comfy purpose-built room around a conference table?  Gerry decided a major issue was the almost permanent emptiness of the most precious resource; operating theatres.  So to get his point across, he convened a meeting confronting the problem in the environment which exposes that problem, those very same empty operating theatres one Friday.  If you know an issue can be highlighted in some way this ‘strikes me’ (a favourite Gerry phrase!) as a good way to get movement your competition wouldn’t have latched onto.

Uncovering Solutions – If you’re in B2B solution selling (like me) then you’ll love his line “as always the people doing the jobs had the answers”.  Which means should you need to generate more proof for your argument, remember to ask around as many people as possible and you’ll find support.  And one killer way he tried to uncover such solutions was to ask “please give me a sense of what you think’s going on here” which is wonderfully disarming.

Sales Management – “the role of management is to provide an environment where things can and will happen”  Are you doing this as a sales manager?  Should your sales manager be doing something to make this happen?  Also, the Chief Exec was berated for his lack of ‘walking the floor’.  Gerry told him doing this half-a-day a week would let him know all the problems, and then, many of the solutions as well.  A good tip for anyone heading up a sales team with layers of management everywhere.

Seeking Progress –  He felt the behemoth sprouted meetings where everyone agreed on something, then nothing ever happened.  In frustration he once cried “what’s stopping us meeting next Thursday to run through the numbers?”.  A cracking close when you want breathing space and some genuine action.

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