It’s not a new problem. It’s not a new concept. But for many ODs, it continues to be a significant challenge. Too many times we hesitate to present patients with upgraded products or services when there is an added expense.
It’s not a new problem. It’s not a new concept. But for many ODs, it continues to be a significant challenge. Too many times we hesitate to present patients with upgraded products or services when there is an added expense. If you offer upgraded items in your office, then you certainly recognize and appreciate well-made products. But to actually sell them on a routine basis, one must truly believe in the difference they make to the quality of life and vision of the patient. And that’s merely step one! On the flip side of that coin are those doctors who truly believe in a product but are not confident in their ability to present it convincingly to the patient. Regardless of where you are, here are four steps to help improve your success.
Step one: Believe!
Optometry is a profession fortunate enough to have quality companies vested into research and development to better our profession. Their contributions have provided us with exceptional products for both diagnostic and retail use. We can differentiate our services by thoroughly researching available options and aligning ourselves with the best of the best. Use your resources-trade journals, company websites, and sales representatives-to learn as much as you can. Going through this process of internal investigation and product comparison allows you to have sincere conviction on the worthiness of the products you have chosen. This knowledge and conviction is essential in being able to successfully sell premium products.
Step two: Staff engagement
The ultimate goal is belief on the part of the staff that this product is the best available and will truly change the patient’s life. While you cannot control the beliefs of your staff, you can control what they are taught. Relay your own product knowledge and invite reps to conduct “lunch and learn” sessions in order to help bring them to the same conclusions you have made. In reality, consistency of action is more convincing than anything. Be consistent in presenting new technology to your patients and repeat that recommendation during the handoff to the staff member. At least once a week, share a premium product success story with the entire staff, detailing the patient benefit and resultant gratitude. Ask staff members to take turns presenting stories. The more real patient stories they hear, the more they believe. It also equips them with testimonials they can share with other patients to transfer that excitement and further support your recommendations.
Step three: Establish value
Cost is often the first question patients ask. Is it because cost is really more important than value, or because it’s the only question they know to ask? The responsibility to educate patients on the difference between cost and value lies with us. And the only way to accomplish that is to thoroughly detail how the product will benefit them. Patient benefit is key. Don’t present patients with a solution until they know they have a problem. If a patient claims to be “fine” in his glasses or contact lenses, ask specific questions about his comfort and vision or what he would like to change. This creates an opportunity for you to prescribe superior products in order to improve his experience. You can also link superior products or treatments to a specific diagnosis or lifestyle need. An example is in prescribing a premium AR coating because the patient has cataracts and secondary glare. Never talk about specific products or price until this step is complete. For a recommendation to be impactful, it has to be tailored to the patient. When you make a recommendation after detailing the individual complaint, diagnosis, or lifestyle need, it resonates as being specific to that patient. Be sure to reiterate the full message of the patient’s problem and solution when transitioning him to your staff member.
Step four: Make it real
Now that the patient realizes he has a problem and that you have a premium product that will likely ease his symptoms, all he has to do is accept the cost. Don't worry-this is an easier task now that value has been established. We are all human. No matter what the economic status, we all spend at least some of our paycheck on wants instead of needs. The key is to identify what this particular patient might be willing to give up and compare it to the benefit and value of your product. For example, “The difference in price is about the same as one nice dinner out per year. In turn, you get a fresh pair of contact lenses every day.” Maybe it’s one Big Mac or Starbucks per week, or maybe one 12-pack or bottle of wine per month. Everyone has something they could exchange for the comfort of their eyes and clarity of their vision.
Give your patients options
It is quick and comfortable to take the easy way out and avoid conversations that seem more difficult on the surface. But we have to stop spending our patients’ money for them! In doing so, we deprive them of the opportunity to achieve maximum comfort and vision. It’s OK if they decline the benefits of a premium product; at least they know it was an option. But when we make the decision for them, by not offering it confidently, it diminishes the level of care they receive. An even bigger threat is when they learn about it from a friend or colleague. Then we have a much greater chance of losing the patient altogether. So offer the best of the best, but maintain your focus on ultimate patient comfort and vision as opposed to the end purchase.