Use Your BRAINS to Communicate With Clients
Phil Zeltzman, DVM, DACVS, CVJ, Fear Free Certified
Dr. Zeltzman is a board-certified veterinary surgeon and serial entrepreneur. His traveling surgery practice takes him all over eastern Pennsylvania and western New Jersey. You can visit his websites at DrPhilZeltzman.com and VeterinariansInParadise.com.
When it comes to client communication, try using your BRAINS to lead the conversation.
Renowned author, speaker and communication consultant Mark Jeffries suggests using six keys to influence the people around you. His method is summarized by the acronym BRAINS. This technique applies well to discussions with clients, teammates and family members. Here we concentrate on the client conversation.
B — Bridge
Bridging means reducing the gap between you and another person. People follow recommendations from people who are like them, so relate to clients by finding common interests. For example, when discussing pet insurance, describe how it has helped your pet when he needed unexpected surgery. When recommending yearly vaccinations, explain how many cases of Lyme or heartworm disease have been diagnosed in your clinic.
R — Rationalize
Some clients just want facts, not fluff. Get to the point and make the decision as easy as possible for them. Compare the cost of an elective spay with that of emergency pyometra surgery. Or compare the price of a parvovirus vaccine with the cost of treating the disease iself.
A — Assertive
Have the knowledge necessary to talk confidently about a specific topic. Your recommendation must be in the best interests of both your client and their pet. Keep in mind that being assertive does not mean being pushy. It means being sincerely convinced that your recommendation is what is best for your patient and client.
I — Inspire
Some clients don’t really care about all the steps in the journey — they just want to know about the destination (i.e. the final outcome). When discussing pet insurance, for example, don’t focus on how it works and the paperwork involved, but rather talk about the final outcome. For example, you could say, “One client had a $5,000 bill and pet insurance covered 90 percent. The client only had to pay 10 percent out of pocket.” Or you could say, “With these vaccines, your pet will be protected against five diseases for three years.”
N — Negotiate
Strive to understand what drives your clients. Then deliver as much value as possible before they even expect it. Because of the law of reciprocity, the client is then more likely to follow your recommendations. In turn, the patient is the biggest winner after receiving the proper care.
S — Specialize
This is where veterinary professionals should excel. Your expertise should inspire trust in your clients, which should encourage them to follow your recommendations. But this doesn't mean you need to spew out a bunch of statistics and impressive facts.
The key is having someone who is comfortable and confident with the information being shared. For example, if you recommend a dental cleaning on a dog with severe tartar, don't send in an inexperienced assistant who doesn’t even help with dentals to explain the procedure and go over a $1,000 estimate. Instead, choose an experienced technician who does help with dentals, who understands the reasons for extracting a bad tooth and who can explain periodontal disease.
If you want all your team members to be able to discuss the Lyme vaccine, then you need to organize a lunch and learn, discuss key points about the disease, and discuss how the vaccine can help prevent it.
The Bottom Line
Like it or not, we are all salespeople in this profession. We need to educate our clients in order to “sell” the products and services that will improve their pet's health. Don’t be aggressive; most people don't react well to that kind of sales pitch. Instead, be kind but assertive, inspiring yet confident.
Kelly Serfas, a certified veterinary technician in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, contributed to this article.
Dr. Zeltzman is a board-certified veterinary surgeon and serial entrepreneur. His traveling surgery practice takes him all over Eastern Pennsylvania and Western New Jersey. You can visit his websites at DrPhilZeltzman.com and VeterinariansInParadise.com.