Paramedic school is stressful.
At least for me, it was.
One small failing error during the classroom phase or internship and I knew I would be sent back to square one.
I knew many people who spent more than a year studying, going on ride-a-longs, attending simulations on weekends and being paid peanuts as an EMT during paramedic school who failed out of the program in the last weeks of their internship.
Their only choice was to give up or start their schooling all over again.
I was on a trajectory to be one of the students who failed out of their program their first time around.
Fortunately, I was saved from the paramedic school graveyard by some simple advice given to me by a veteran paramedic firefighter about creating systems for my assessments.
It turns out, the systems I learned to use in paramedic school are extremely effective when training productive fitness sales teams.
You never rise to your level of expectation, you only fall to your level of training
One important part of paramedic school includes staged simulations or “sims” for short.
Sims was where my instructors would place an adult, child or infant dummy in a scenario to mimic a medical emergency.
The medical emergencies I faced during sims started pretty straight forward – Mild shortness of breath, minor traumas, and simple chief complaints.
As time went on, my instructors would become more and more merciless with the types of scenarios and medical problems I would encounter.
It was during sims, where I started screwing up more and more.
Giving the wrong drugs, treating the wrong problem, asking the wrong questions.
My instructors and fellow students all know it – I was struggling.
After one of the more frustrating days of falling on my face repeatedly during sims, a veteran paramedic firefighter instructor took me aside and gave me the advice that completely reversed my performance during sims, and ultimately led to me completing my paramedic training.
First, he handed me a laminated piece of paper with the words “EMS Mnemonics” written across the top.
Below the title, were dozens of mnemonics squeezed into the blue, double-sided piece of paper.
…Health History, Allergies & Medications (HAM) as a quick assessment.
…Signs & Symptoms, Allergies, Medications, Pertinent Past History, Last Meal, Events Leading Up to Emergency (SAMPLE) as a general assessment.
…Onset, Provoke/Palliative, Quality, Radiate/Region, Signs/Symptoms/Severity, Time of Onset (OPQRST) for trauma.
…PROBEESLOST as a more detailed general assessment.
…AEIOUTIPS for an altered patient.
And many, many more.
His advice was simple – “Memorize all of these mnemonics and use them during my assessments.”
“Then, don’t ever recommend a treatment, give a drug, or perform a skill until I had completed a careful assessment using the appropriate mnemonic.”
The reason why I kept giving the wrong treatments and struggling during my sims was that my assessments were random and incomplete.
I went home that day and committed myself to not stop studying until I had completely mastered every single mnemonic on the page.
The system that empowered me to succeed
My performance during the next day of sims shocked my instructors. Truthfully, it shocked me as well.
Instead of rushing to treatment, I methodically obtained information related to the appropriate mnemonic.
I thought of each letter of the mnemonic as having an open door. By obtaining enough information related to each letter, I closed the door.
Regardless of how chaotic the call or how little sleep I had obtained, I was now able to obtain the information that allowed me to provide an appropriate solution.
Using these mnemonics allowed me to breeze through the rest of my paramedic education, pass my internship without any difficulty, and ultimately become a licensed paramedic.
The worst time to think about what question you’re going ask is when you’re in the situation where you need to ask it
Like I was doing early in my paramedic schooling, I frequently see salespeople who wing it while qualifying a prospect.
The salesperson or personal trainer asks a few vague questions about someone’s fitness goals & experience, then assume they have enough information to recommend a solution.
Unfortunately, this lack of consistency and intention leads to a generic or improper solution for the prospect.
Prospects end up having many strong objections to the sale and end up feeling annoyed and “sold” rather than “helped”.
The prospect either walks away from the sale or look for another solution.
I have been teaching a very basic mnemonic to fitness sales teams for several years.
This basic mnemonic has helped many fitness professionals and sales professionals stay organized, prevent objections and have ultimately led to thousands of dollars in sales.
It’s called SUPS.
It stands for Specific Goal, Underlying Motivation, Previous Experience/Pain Points, and Strategy to achieve your goal.
Here is a break-down of SUPS.
Specific Goal – find out what their specific goal is. Don’t let them get away with saying their goal is to “tone up”. You need to find out what tone-up means to them. Once you have a specific goal, you’ll want to know a measurement of that goal. If their goal is weight loss, you’ll want to know how much. You’ll also want to find out their timeline to achieve their goal and if there is a reason for setting a timeline (wedding, summer, etc.)
Underlying Motivation – this is your customer’s Why. Find out why the specific goal is important to the customer. Even though this is listed as your second letter in the mnemonic, you want to wait until you have a very good level of rapport to obtain this information. You will very likely get this information after you have obtained your P and S in SUPS.
Previous Experience/Pain Points – What is your prospects’ experience with health and fitness? What barriers have prevented them from making fitness a way of life (Pain Points)? If they have worked out previously, why did they stop?
Strategy/Support – What is their plan to achieve their goal. How many days a week can they commit to working out? What time of day? Are their friends and family supportive of them achieving this goal?
As with my paramedic mnemonics, the goal is to ask enough questions to obtain the information that closes every letter.
Of course, there are other tools you can use to obtain information related to your industry.
The key is to prepare for your sales call before you are with a prospect.
By memorizing mnemonics, you’ll ask better questions, obtain better information, stay organized, prevent many objections, truly understand your prospect and make more sales.