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Never sell to veterinary clients again
Explaindont complainto convince clients into better compliance for their pets health.
GETTYIMAGES/McMillan Digital ArtOne great opportunity for a slow day at your hospital is to practice phone language and what I call the Explain-and-Convince Method, or E-C, like easy-get it? You might have been referring to this as selling. Boo! Hiss! What a negative word. No one on your team should ever be selling, ever. It's just wrong. When we use the E-C Method to explain the goods and services we offer to our customers, and we do it in a highly educated way, we gain their trust. When we gain their trust, it's easy to convince them to purchase products and to request services for their pet's health and well-being. We've done our job, and we never had to sell. Not once.
Step 1: Build trust by speaking the same language
Trust is the most important value in business. It's the reason we review superb businesses with 5 stars and avoid those who receive less. It's the reason we seek second opinions at the doctor's office before undergoing major surgery. It's also the best way to “sell” a good or service to your customers.
One common question you hear in practice: “What would you do if it were your pet?”
Well that's easy to answer, because the answer should be what you would recommend to the pet owner in the first place. It's how you answer that makes the difference. It's all about the language.
Step 2: Practice your approach
On a slow day, ask your team members to hang by the phone, and make a call from a different line or a cell phone in another room. Start by announcing yourself as a client. It makes sense to establish fake clients in your system, complete with names, fake pets and so on. Create a bit of history, too, and assign names that make it easy to remember the characters.
For example, “Paul Burden” could be a difficult person with a difficult cat. “Jane Symple” could be a bit hard to explain things to. “Brian Cheapson” might be a penny-pincher who never wants to buy anything. Have fun with it, but try to create characters that resemble the truth in real clients. Just be very careful about how you discuss these pet owners amongst your team members. When you call, and your team members answer, use a scenario they would experience any day of the week.
Case 1: Brian Cheapson
Mr. Cheapson: “I was just at the dollar store, which is so overpriced, and I bought some General Junk's flea and tick treatment. Why isn't it working?”
Explain that effective products that will provide the customer with a good outcome cost a bit more, but that Mr. Cheapson will be happier with the results.
Mr. Cheapson: “But $14 a dose? That's absurd!”
Perhaps if one is available you can offer a manufacturer rebate. And don't forget to mention that a purchase from your practice comes with a guarantee from the manufacturer. You also may decide to offer single doses so the client doesn't need to pay for it all today.
Team member: “Don't forget, Mr. Cheapson, calling an exterminator when your problem gets bigger will be much more expensive.”
At some point while playing the role of Mr. Cheapson, you should fold and agree to purchase a single dose. But don't do it too early. Ask questions about the products. Make a stink about the price again and again. In sports they always say, train hard, fight easy. If you build up your team to face any challenge, work will become second nature. “Selling” will become-wait for it-a breeze. You just might find yourself ordering more stock. Sounds terrible, doesn't it? (Download four practice cases at dvm360.com/ECmethod.)
Of course, you could just let your team members tell Mr. Cheapson, “Well, I dunno, I guess you could call the dollar store?”
Brent Dickinson is the practice manager at Dickinson-McNeill Veterinary Clinic in Chesterfield, New Jersey.