Article: Consultations – Closing and Tracking the Sale
- Posted on: Nov 21 2012
Congratulations. Your marketing plan was well crafted, honed, and executed. Your diligence and perseverance has resulted in a potential patient or prospect interested in obtaining services from you. You have arrived at a critical juncture, otherwise known as the consultation. The consultation is the critical point in the sales process, which must be completed correctly in order to obtain maximum results from your marketing.
In order to update your marketing program, be sure to ask new patients how they found out about your practice. This is the most important ingredient of tracking your sales. Early in a new practice development, you will spend a lot of time asking your patients how they found you. You will discover quickly which marketing tactics you are using work, and which are not. As they say in Marketing 101, ‘find out what people want and give them more of it, find out what they don’t want and give them less of it.’
It is always important to remember that the potential new patient has come in for the consultation voluntarily. This person is not “sick.” This person would like to make some aesthetic changes and came to your office seeking information in order to make a buying decision. Yes, it may be tough to think of your medical services as a “sales” offering, but in this day of cash-basis consumer healthcare transactions, do not fool yourself – it is indeed a sales transaction. I encourage you to think of “closing the sale” more as “leading the potential patient to making a buying decision.”
We recommend this procedure for handling the patient. First, have the patient fill out a medical form and see whether the patient has had any previous procedures. Post this document on your website to make the process smoother. (If you do not have a website yet, what are you waiting for?) The staff member that conducts the initial consultation should review the completed form in advance of meeting the patient.
Consider conducting the consultation in a private room, for a cozy and personalized one-on-one experience. Here, you should be able to show the prospective patient your “vanity” photo album that includes your most poignant “before and after” examples to help the prospective patient see the possibilities. Many perceptive aesthetic professionals use a laptop or desktop computer screen to display and explain procedures. Never rush a consult. Book it for one hour even if it might only take 30 minutes. This is the first step to developing a future relationship. Do not forget to send personalized follow up notes within the next few days.
The same patient-coordinator should conduct both the initial consult and the patient’s future progress. It is important to show some consistency within the practice. Remember that customer service is essential in a business with lots of competitors. If the physician allows the consultant to use a special price offer, the consultant should reintroduce it during the consultation in order to close the sale. Take advantage of each season for specialized offers. This is a time-honored marketing practice, and some knowledgeable prospective patients actually wait to “shop” season sales for aesthetic services.
The consultation should begin with some small talk that establishes rapport with the patient and starts to build trust. More than anything, this is a relationship sale! A good sales relationship involved much more listening than talking. If you listen carefully and often, prospects will tell you exactly what to sell them and how to sell it to them.
“I find that empathetic listening helps me to understand the patient’s thought process as well as their needs; and this helps me give them good advice which usually leads to a sale,” says Marcy Street MD, Medical Director of Doctor’s Approach Dermatology and Laser Center and creator of Doctor’s Approach Skin and Hair care in Michigan.
Find out from the patient what they would like to achieve. Hand the patient a mirror so they can show you what specific areas bother them. This will help you address their needs properly. Then talk about what is possible and what is not. We have all met patients with unrealistic expectations—the sooner you address this, the better. As you conduct the consultation, you must be confident and speak with authority. You must also create credibility for the practice and the doctor(s) who will be treating this patient.
From your discussion, you should be able to determine one or more solutions. Take into account the patient’s tolerance for pain and downtime. For example, plastic surgery may be an option, as well as a combination of Botox® injections and laser-based facial rejuvenation. In leading the patient to make a good buying decision, the main ingredient is education. Most of your time should be spent “teaching” the patient about the possible procedures and their expected benefits to the prospect along with the time and discomfort (if any) involved. Use pictures to show “before and after.” If there are any potential side effects, this is also the time to discuss them. Moreover, this is the time to talk about the post-procedure skin care regimen. Often the post-procedure skin care regime is an essential component of the overall procedure. It is imperative that the prospective patient embrace the synergy that the procedure and post-skin regime provides. This will pave the way for post-treatment repeat office visits to purchase skin care products, which will keep your practice and its offerings top of mind for the patient that may consider future aesthetic services from you.
“Let the patient choose the solution they feel is best for them,” says Anca Saladie, senior consultant for Beautiful Forever. Be sure you discuss the amount of time it will take before results are noticeable. If the recommended procedure is usually done in a series, be sure to bring this into the conversation as well as the special price you will be offering to the prospect for purchasing the series at the outset (educated consumers want to save money).
If this patient is now a candidate for a non-invasive or medical spa type of treatment, you may even be able to close the sale and have the procedure done following the consultation (this should be done as often as possible). Discuss the price of the procedure with the patient and advise them that patient financing plans are available.
If the procedure cannot be done today, closing the sale should be done by obtaining a deposit to book the appointment. If you have properly educated the patient and addressed their needs and concerns, they will naturally be ready to buy. If they will purchase a series of treatments, this is the time to obtain a commitment for the whole series in order to give the “package” price.
For those who say they want to think about it, be sure to send a personalized follow-up note. Include specifics from the consultation to ensure that the patient knows you remember them, their goals and objectives. Then set up a follow-up phone call. The patient should know you will be calling so they will not feel harassed. Find out the best time and day for the call and be sure to send the patient a marketing package specific to the patient’s needs. The follow up call should be made by the same patient-coordinator who did the consult.
In plastic surgery practices where medical spa treatments are also provided, the opportunity exists for cross selling between the practices. Again, it is important to track the origin of all patients to each part of the practice in order to focus your marketing on the most likely places for success.
Remember that beauty may indeed be in the eye of the beholder, but beauty enhancement techniques, services, and procedures are in the hands of the dedicated professionals who have the passion and diligence to provide their patients with the most incredible and up-to-date aesthetic enhancement services. Do not let the magic of the patient consultation end with the potential patient leaving the office without making the commitment and appointment to receive the benefits of your services. In all seriousness, they came to the consultation with sincere hopes that you are the one they want to trust with their next steps to beauty – do not let them down. Stop the “shopping around” practice that some prospective patients take by closing the sale. Be sure you help them close the sale with that hope-filled appointment that marks the beginning of their quest for beauty enhancements.