Do You Come Across as a Doctor or a Chemist to Your Customers

An image showing comparison of doctor and chemist

As per my experience in sales, the way you interact with your customers can make all the difference between you being perceived as a trusted advisor, akin to a doctor, or simply a provider of products/ solutions, like a chemist.

The distinction lies in the depth of understanding, empathy, and value you bring to the table.

I’ll give you an example of our sales consulting services.

Usually, our clients opt for sales consulting when their business shows symptoms like – Slow growth, reducing margins, Higher attrition, realisation of bringing structure for future growth etc.

If the Consultants act like a chemist, customers will never open up about their fears and sales challenges and expect us to give a quotation for a specific work they expect us to do.

However, for our customers to respect us, our consultants need to learn to position themselves as “Doctor” to diagnose customers’ symptoms, identify the cause/s and provide a tailored solution to contribute to the Sales KPIs of the customers.

So now let’s delve deeper into this analogy:

The Doctor : A Trusted Advisor

When your customers see you as a doctor, they view you as a consultant/ partner in their success journey.

Much like a doctor diagnoses and prescribes personalized treatment plans, you diagnose your customer’s pain/aspiration points and offer tailored solutions.

Here’s how you embody the role of a doctor in B2B sales :

1. Deep Understanding

Just as a doctor listen attentively to a patient’s concerns, you understand your customer’s challenges, solution image, objectives, and constraints.

This requires active listening and asking probing questions to uncover underlying issues.

2. Expertise and Guidance

Doctors are respected for their knowledge and expertise in their field.

Similarly, you leverage your solution/ industry knowledge and experience to provide valuable insights and guidance.

Whether it’s recommending the right product, offering process improvements, or sharing industry trends, you position yourself as a trusted authority.

3. Relationship Building

Trust forms the foundation of the doctor-patient relationship, built over time through reliability, respect and integrity.

Likewise, in B2B sales, nurturing strong relationships with your customers become crucial.

By demonstrating empathy, delivering on promises, and being transparent, you foster trust and loyalty.

4. Long-term Partnership

Good doctors focus on the long-term health and well-being of their patients.

Similarly, you aim to establish lifelong partnerships with your customers.

This involves ongoing support, proactive communication, and a commitment to their success beyond the initial sale.

5. Negotiation

Patients don’t bargain with the doctors.

The doctor is known for his expertise and patients are willing to pay the price.

The Chemist: A Transactional Vendor

Unfortunately, most Sales Professionals are perceived as “Chemists” by their customers.

When you’re perceived as a chemist, your role is transactional rather than consultative.

Customers may see you as just another supplier of products or services, lacking the depth of understanding and engagement they seek.

Here your customer perceives you as a step to fulfil their order and does not shy away from asking for “discounts”.

1. Product-Centric Approach

Like a chemist dispensing medicines, your focus is primarily on delivering products or services.

While quality, delivery timelines and reliability are essential, you may overlook the broader context of your customer’s needs and objectives.

2. Limited Interaction

Chemists often have limited interaction with customers beyond the transactional interaction.

Similarly, your interactions with clients may be transactional, lacking the insightful discussions required to build meaningful relationships.

Your customer does not want to open up with you about his pains /fears/ aspirations thinking you are just a chemist and not a doctor.

3. Reactive vs. Proactive

Instead of proactively addressing customer needs and pre-empting future challenges, you may adopt a reactive approach, responding only when prompted.

This reactive mindset can hinder your ability to add value and differentiate yourself in the market.

4. Short-term Transactions

Transactions with a chemist are typically short-term and transactional in nature.

Similarly, your engagements with customers may revolve around individual transactions rather than long-term partnerships focused on mutual growth and success.

Doctor VS Chemist Approach

(Click on the image to view it bigger)

I have heard the following statements many times in my interactions with leaders / sales professionals :

  • My customers are different and price remains the only decision factor. (And still, in the same industry, some Sales folks command respect and premium over a majority of “Me-Too” salespeople. Their customers treat them differently and these sales folks have access /relationships with key customer contacts.
  • I want my sales team to become the best but My sales team is averse to prepare for client interactions or strategize for large opportunities. (Its like – I want my kid to become like Virat Kohli and play for India, but he can’t wake up early to do the practice. It’s akin to having “Indian cricket team dream” but “Mohalla cricket efforts”.

If you want your customers to perceive you as a doctor and give you respect/premium, you need to be ready to put in the effort to differentiate yourself and rise above the vast majority of “Chemist Sales Reps”.

In conclusion, whether you’re perceived as a Doctor or a Chemist in B2B sales depends on the depth of understanding, empathy, and value you bring to your customer relationships

By demonstrating the traits of a trusted consultant/advisor, you can elevate your perception from Chemist (transactional vendor) sales person to doctor (trusted advisor/strategic partner),  driving mutual success and differentiation in the marketplace.

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About the Author

Picture of Vishal Mehta
Vishal Mehta
Vishal is passionate about the science part of B2B Sales. He is a Co-founder of “B2B Sales” company –Sales & Profit (SalesPro Business Solutions Pvt Ltd) – It is into Sales Consulting, Sales Technology, Sales Training, Sales Recruitment and Lead generation.You can reach him @
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