As a result of a greater focus in sales management practice on customer loyalty than on making the sale and even on customer satisfaction, sales research has turned its focus to questions of what strengthens salesperson-customer relationships (Fenwick, Porter and Crosby 2001; Weitz and Bradford 1999). Considering doctors as salespeople and patients as their customers, in this research we ask if stronger relationships motivate the customer (the patient) to take better self-care. In addition to diagnosing illnesses and prescribing medication, doctors need to be agents of lifestyle change. A significant proportion of their patients have lifestyle illnesses, such as hypertension and diabetes, and need to improve their diet and exercise to get well. Doctors regularly prescribe diet and exercise changes but tend to achieve only a 40–50% compliance rate (Toussi, Fujioka and Coleman 2009), although failure to comply is often costly—in terms of wellbeing—to the patient. Failure to comply is also costly in terms of health care costs, as it leads to more visits to the doctor’s office and more diagnostic testing. Improving doctors’ ability to persuade their patients to take better self-care is of considerable importance.
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- Doctors As Salespeople: Strengthening Relationships With Patients To Motivate Better Self-Care