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Piecing the Puzzle Together

Ian Altman started, sold, and grew his prior companies from zero to over one billion dollars in value. Recognized perennially as one of the world's top 30 experts on sales, he has spent years researching how leaders make and approve decisions. He shares case studies of how this modern approach has helped many businesses turn marginal growth into explosive profits and market dominance-thriving when competitors struggle to survive. He’s a co-author of the bestseller, Same Side Selling and is the founder of the Same Side Selling Academy.

In this episode of TechTalk Podcast, Brad Cost, Dr. Jay Greenstein, and Ian Altman sit down to discuss:


  • Ian's history of building, growing, and selling business empires.

  • The difference in selling in the lenses of "winner vs loser" and "you and me.".

  • Decision-making in the chiropractic industry and how to move the needle, ethically.


1:55 – Building an empire and writing a book to help others do the same. “I grew my prior businesses from zero to a couple billion dollars in value and, after I exited, I was trying to figure out what to do. People began to ask me why I didn’t help other people grow their businesses, and I didn't even realize there was a field for that. I started helping other people and having great success with that when I met a good mutual friend of ours, Jack Quarles, who spent two decades in purchasing and procurement. We wrote a book together called Same Side Selling, which is about the adversarial traps that pit buyer and seller against one another. Instead, we detail how you end up on the same side - in essence, putting a puzzle together. It's all integrity based, and I've been doing this for the last 15 or so years now. The coolest part is seeing this stuff clicks for organizations. Jay, you and I were talking about another client of mine, who have a physical therapy practice in Birmingham, Alabama. In one year, this client added no people to their sales organization and grew their referral base by 35%. It's those things that are fun for me because you see organizations getting much greater success and they don't feel like they're selling anything."

3:28 – Same Side Selling in the healthcare industry. “Instead of a game metaphor with a winner and a loser or a battle metaphor with a dying loser, which is what most sales is predicated on, Same Side Selling uses a puzzle metaphor. We think of our clients has puzzle pieces. We have puzzle pieces and we’re just seeing where they fit. If you're looking for a referral source, you could either look at it through the lens of wanting more clients or the lens of seeing what your competitors are doing well. Now, there's an opportunity to see where you might help clients in ways they wouldn't get otherwise. Similarly with patients, if you just offer something like dry needling to a patient, maybe they don’t know what that is or they have a fear of needles and have no desire for dry needling. From another lens, you can explain to the patient that with the condition they have, 65% of patients cut their recovery time by 35% if they use the dry needling technique. You can explain to them what dry needling is, how it works, and how much it would cost. When you're in a caregiving role, people are looking at you for help. If we think of it through that lens, now it's a matter of asking the right questions to retain the patient and reach a better outcome. The interesting thing is if you tell them they should definitely do this to create a better outcome and it doesn't, then they question what you're suggesting in the future. If you tell them a lot of patients find this really helpful, suggest it might help them, follow up post-procedure to see the results they got out of it, and stay authentically curious, then they are more likely to stay with you as a patient.”

12:05 – Solving vs selling. “Most of this comes down to not trying to sell somebody something. We're trying to solve something for them. A classic example in physical therapy or chiropractic is a patient who has an issue and decides to come in regularly. We know that if they come in for the next four weeks, they'll probably resolve this issue, but if they come in sporadically, four months from now, they're still going to have the issue. To solve this, we ask them to come in three times a week, yet they don’t want to, but what if we say we're evidence-based in research and we know there are two different ways we can treat your condition that we just diagnosed. One way is we can make the immediate discomfort go away, but it may come back again. There's another method that requires you to come in a few times a week, but we know that 94% of the time, your issue will fully resolve and won't come back. Then, ask the patient what approach seems more applicable for them. Now, you're co -building a plan together, but it's all around their outcome.”

19:00 – Operating ethically for the wellbeing of the patient. “Look, there are some people in the profession who didn't operate ethically, so people have been turned off to that. There are a lot of professions where this has happened. It's not unique to chiropractic. If you're a practice like Kaizo, then you have all this evidence, but let's say you don't necessarily have a wealth of data and evidence. You have to demonstrate to your patient or client that you are more committed to the outcome than to the transaction. People rarely ask patients what success will look like three months down the road. Some patients are going to say more mobility while others don't want to have discomfort ever again. There are two different approaches we would take for that, so you don't want to overdo or underdo your care. Make sure that you’re right fitting it to what they’re looking to achieve. Along the way, measure what kind of outcome their getting to know that you’re providing the right care.”

21:51 – Empower decision-making. “My wife is a physical therapist by training. If I tell my wife that my lower back is bothering me, I'm really saying I want a back rub. She, however, is saying, let me give you a series of exercises you should do every day to make this go away. I’m just wanting a little compassion. If you're looking for compassion, then say it. If you want a resolution, it's a different answer. Some people want a quick fix to make it go away temporarily, but they accept that by doing that, it may come back in three months, six months, almost certainly will come back. Other people want it to go away but want to make sure they minimize the chance of it ever coming back. Empower them to make that decision. If they don't follow the protocol and come back in three months, they're not blaming you. They're going to come back and ask to take a more holistic approach. Another angle you can take is referring them to someone else because you’re committed to, as a practice, doing things that are in the best long-term interest of your clients. If you were to give them a quick fix right now and they’re back in three months, not only is it likely to reappear, but the severity tends to go up. Although not every practice thinks that way, if your practice is not going to move the needle to find a better outcome for them, refer them to someone else for the reputation of your practice.”

32:18 – 3 steps to move the needle. “If you have a team of different people that are interacting with referral sources with patients, how do you how do you develop these skills? It comes down to three different components we found that really move the needle.

  1. The first piece is what we call a common process. Everyone needs to have the same language, the same accountability/visibility over the required concepts, and an environment where we practice these concepts. You can't just teach people stuff and tell them to do it. If you were in a chiropractic practice, you wouldn't have them watch a video on how to do a procedure, but not practice it. It'd be ridiculous, but people often overlook that.

  2. The second piece is a playbook for common situations obstacles. Where do you get resistance and how do you deal with it when it comes up? For example, the patient who has a protocol that says three times a week, but they’re just going to come in once every two weeks. How do you deal with that? Well, you shouldn't be figuring that on the fly. You should have a formula for what works best in that situation and practice it so that when it comes up, you have a plan to make the choice together on how they want to handle this with your care.

  3. The third component, probably the most important, is this idea of coaching and mentoring. In our Academy, the first Wednesday of each month is called Coaches Corner. There are different types of businesses that’ll bring situations to the group and we’ll role play it. They can go back and watch that recording to work through those exact scenarios. If we don't provide coaching, people might start developing bad habits and get really good at doing what they shouldn't do.”







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