The Patient’s Journey to a Purchase

photo from sales management.com

The patient’s journey to a purchase has changed significantly in the past 10 years…ignore that fact and your business will suffer the consequences.

Every day, people form impressions of brands from touch points such as:

  •      Advertisements (both offline ex. print newspaper and online ex. PPC, paid social ads)
  •      Marketing (blogs are a good online example)
  •      Conversations with family and friends both online (social media) and offline  
  •      Product Experiences (hearing aid trials).

Unless consumers are actively shopping, much of that exposure appears wasted. But what happens when something triggers the impulse to buy?

Those accumulated impressions then become crucial because they shape the initial-consideration set: the small number of choices consumers regard at the outset as potential purchasing options.

What Are You Selling?

Speaking in generic terms, the sale of a hearing aid falls into the following categories:

  • The product is high value based. – Sold primarily by small business with a high average cost per sale (ASP).
  • The product has a long research or sales cycle. – A sales cycle is the series of predictable phases required to sell a product or a service.
  • It is a knowledge-based product. – The product requires the customer to understand a significant amount of new information prior to the purchase of the product.

In other words you are not selling a pizza (low value based, short sales cycle, little knowledge required).

When you think of it in those terms you’ll begin to understand why your advertising and marketing efforts need to ensure that your business is in the patient or significant others mind long before they’re ready to pick up the phone and call for an appointment.

How Patients Make Decisions

Consumers/Patients no longer take a linear approach when making a purchasing decision.  In the pre-digital age decisions followed a typical continuum –

Awareness, Familiarity, Consideration, Purchase, Loyalty… Repeat

The decision-making process is now more of a circular journey, battlegrounds where marketers can win or lose:

  • Problem/Need Recognition – This is often identified as the first and most important step in the customer’s decision process. A purchase cannot take place without the recognition of the need. In the case of a hearing impaired this step is often initiated by a significant other.
  • Initial Consideration – Brands based on touch-points (contact between a buyer and a seller) such as an advertisement, previous experience or personal recommendation.  This is pretty much a set of products and/or business that are already on the patient’s radar.
  • Active Evaluation – The process of researching potential purchases and gathering information.  This is the buyer’s effort to broaden their knowledge base and add to brands from the “initial consideration”.  The potential patient will search to identify and evaluate information sources related to the central buying decision.
  • Closure – when patients buy what you’re selling (the appointment). The final purchase decision may be ‘disrupted’ by two factors: negative feedback from other customers/patients and the level of motivation to continue the process.
  • Post Purchase – When consumers experience the product. Patients will compare products with their previous expectations and will be either satisfied or dissatisfied. These stages are critical in retaining customers. This can greatly affect the decision process for similar purchases from the same company in the future. If your customer is satisfied, this will result in brand loyalty.  On the basis of being either satisfied or dissatisfied, it is common for customers to distribute their positive or negative feedback about the product. This may be through reviews on website, social media networks or word of mouth. Companies should be very careful to create positive post-purchase communication, in order to engage customers and make the process as efficient as possible.

How the consumer chooses one provider over another is a much more complicated process than ever before.  To have continued success in your practice it’s imperative that you understand the buying behaviors of your demographic and how much those behaviors have changed over the past decade.

3 Ways to Get Around Any Objection in Sales

When was the last time you walked away from a client meeting with no deal? Losing a deal to a competitor is not always a negative situation, but seldom is it the desired outcome.

If you could give one reason why your customer did not choose your service or product, what would it be? In most cases the answer will be rooted in one issue: The failure to overcome your prospect’s objections.

Know this: There are no magic formulas. Nothing can replace an intelligent, well-trained entrepreneur, who can overcome objections in sales or negotiations.

Objections in sales, relationships, business negotiations or other areas are imminent. It’s not a matter of whether an objection will arise but rather a question of when it will occur.

There are no special powers, and this is not rocket science. Simply put, if you want to earn more and close more sales, you need to do the following:

  1. Get in front of more prospects than your competitors.
  2. Know how to close the deal by overcoming objections.
  3. Deliver your message in a clear, straightforward manner.

Also Read: The Best Way to Improve Client Relations and Manage Employees

Of course, there are some other steps between points one and three but for simplicity’s sake, let’s focus on these.

1. Be an active listener.

Listening is one of the most underutilized skills. Active listening means we are mentally noting the objections, agreements and compromises while we continue acknowledging the person speaking.

Be genuine, and invest in learning to listen more efficiently. If we learn and master the skill of active listening, we will experience greater success in sales and in life.

2. Be an effective communicator.

During your next conversation, pay particular attention to see if the other person you are talking with gives you an opportunity to respond to their statement. If you deliver your pitch without giving the other person a chance to respond to you, you are cheating yourself out of an opportunity to answer objections early on in the process.

3. Be flexible.

This applies to you only if you have the freedom to make decisions. If you are restricted from offering price concessions or customizing packages, your freedom to be flexible may be significantly hindered. But, if you do have the ability to make decisions, find a way to do it. In many cases, it is better to bend in a deal than break the whole deal down and lose it altogether.

Also Read: The Top Tactic All Successful Salespeople Use

 

from Entrepreneur.com

How to Write the Most Effective Sales Emails

Two weeks ago we discussed how it’s do or die when it comes to following digital marketing leads. One way of doing this is to begin emailing prospects that come up by digital leads. Emailing a prospect for the first time can be a little scary. Getting off on the right foot and providing value are both critical for success … but these things are easier said than done.

So what should you be writing to pique a prospect’s interest? You’re no doubt careful to avoid phrases that kill an introductory email, but which ones spark a conversation?

As seen at Hubspot, below are 17 phrases to include in your introductory email that create a connection with your prospect.

1. “After researching your business … ”

Alerting the prospect that you’ve spent time researching their business sparks their interest and improves your credibility right off the bat.

2. “Hi [name],”

My colleague recently received an email that started with, “Dear [contact first name].” Needless to say, she didn’t respond. Including the recipient’s name in your email is a great way to grab their attention early, and make it clear that this email is specifically meant for them.

3. “It looks like you’re attempting to do [X]. Is that correct?”

Asking about changes you’ve noticed sparks a meaningful conversation about the prospect’s goals and overarching strategy. For example, did the prospect recently unveil a blog redesign? Has their company posted a new position on the job board? Ask about the shift, and how it figures into the company’s plan.

4. “Why did you decide to download our resource?”

When an inbound lead downloads a piece of content, “Why?” is a natural question. Asking“Why?” allows the prospect to explain the problem they are attempting to solve. Armed with this information, the rep can better help the prospect and provide value.

5. “What’s your top priority right now?”

Identifying the prospect’s top priority provides you the opportunity to dig deeper into that goal. With better knowledge of the prospect’s most pressing priorities, you can showcase the value of your product in a way that resonates with their struggles and aligns with their goals.

6. “How can I help?”

The best sales reps today adhere to ABH — Always Be Helping — instead of ABC. In a crowd of pushy, self-centered salespeople, a rep who strives to serve first is refreshing. Include this phrase in your email to set it apart from the rest.

7. “I really enjoyed … ”

According to Professor Norihiro Sadato, “To the brain, receiving a compliment is as much a social reward as being rewarded money.” Not only does a compliment improve a prospect’s mood, but it is likely to elicit a response when included in a sales email. The more specific, the better.

8. “I read what you wrote/shared/commented on on social media and was wondering … ”

Asking a thoughtful question about a topic the prospect is interested in is an easy way to spark a conversation. If a prospect is writing, posting about, or commenting on a given topic on social media, they’re likely looking to discuss it further.

9. “I’m curious to get your thoughts on … ”

Presenting a prospect with clear next steps keeps the conversation moving forward. With an introductory email, your ask should be small, such as reading a blog post and sharing their thoughts,  or taking a few minutes to answer a question.

10. “Have you ever thought about doing X?”

Instead of giving orders, try piquing the prospect’s interest and asking a question around what they’re hoping to achieve. There is more than one way to solve a problem. And as a sales rep, you can present options the prospect might not be aware of.

Sales reps should always strive to give more than they receive. Providing a quick strategy tip or insight can get the conversation flowing and immediately boosts the rep’s credibility.

11. “I have an idea about … ”

Different phrase, same idea. Who doesn’t love free advice? This is an easy way to engage the prospect in a meaningful conversation about a hot topic.

12. “Congratulations on … ”

Promotions and job changes are some of the most valuable trigger events for salespeople. Congratulating your prospect on accepting a new role or moving to a different company can quickly turn into a sales conversation if you play your cards right.

13. “For more information, check out… ”

Including links to relevant blog posts or research reports at the end of your email makes it easy for the prospect to discover more information on potential solutions to their specific problems, and positions you as someone who wants to help.

14. “[Mutual Connection] mentioned me to that … ”

As it turns out, you’re 4.2 times more likely to get an appointment if you share a personal connection with a prospect. By referencing someone you both know you can improve the likelihood of a response, and ultimately spark a meaningful conversation.

15. “How do you know [mutual connection]?”

Similar to the phrase above, referencing a mutual connection can be very beneficial in starting up an exchange. A shared connection helps you build credibility, and gives you a natural “in.”

16) “Did you know that … ?”

By sharing interesting data with a prospect, the rep can position themselves as a source of valuable information. And if the data sheds light on a problem the prospect is struggling with? You’ve struck gold.

17) “What did you think of … ?”

By asking a potential buyer’s thoughts about a recent industry event or news, you’re not only starting a conversation with the prospect, but you’re also gathering vital information in regards to where they stand on certain issues.

While every prospect is going to respond differently to your email, certain phrases increase the chances that your message will hit home and elicit a response. Instead of worrying about messing the email up, try focusing on making it great. These phrases can help.

It’s Do or Die When It Comes to Following Digital Leads

For your small business, following up leads is everything, especially internet marketing leads. Digital marketing is a big shift for small business, but it’s a leap you need to make in order for your business to survive. Grant Cardone from Entrepreneur.com explains further below.

Digital-media advertising is now bigger than national-TV advertising and is expected to exceed total TV advertising spending by 2018. This shift to digital is driving an unprecedented number of customers to websites and landing pages. This is also creating new problems and bigger opportunities for entrepreneurs that can figure out how to effectively respond to these prospects.

How big is the opportunity? Well, have you ever reached out to a business’s website, filled out a form showing interest only to be completely ignored? Of course you have. In fact, 65 percent of all companies admit that they have no process to nurture leads.

Not sure about where to start with digital marketing? We’re here to help.

This is a huge follow-up problem. Did you know 44 percent of all sales people give up after one follow-up call? Who allows this to happen? Companies that nurture leads have 47 percent higher profit margins than companies that do not. This means prospects put the value on quick response, not on lowest price.

Smaller businesses and solo entrepreneurs often point the finger to limited infrastructure to handle follow up, but the reality is if you are a small-business owner, this is where you need to invest in order to survive.

Why do salespeople and companies fail to follow up? Many common reasons they don’t follow up are: because there are too many leads, leads are cold by the time they get to them, and there’s no organized process for follow up.

The reality is there is no commitment to follow up. The culture of your company has made it OK not to follow up. Now, in defense of the sales team, if your salespeople don’t know how to effectively follow up, what to say, how to text, when to email, when to call, when to offer more information or simple things like how to get the lead on the phone, then how can you even make a second call, much less the five to 12 calls necessary to convert the Internet lead to a purchase?

This problem is your opportunity and I know how to make it your new best friend. Follow these three steps:

  1. Share the facts about lead response and follow up with your team:

Average response time for an Internet lead is 44 hours.

65 percent of all companies don’t nurture the lead.

Only 25 percent of all salespeople make two contact attempts.

It requires eight follow up attempts just to qualify the lead.

80 percent of all transactions require five to 12 follow-ups.

If you include texting in your response, you increase your conversion rate by 40 percent. When effectively used, texting can improve conversion by over 100 percent.

  1. Make a commitment to follow up at your company. This is about your culture and can only be the decision of executive management.
  1. Give your staff a very precise schedule and actions for each follow up attempt using a variety of means. A schedule might look like this:

Automated response within five minutes. “Thank you. Someone will be right with you.”

Text message or email (text preferred) response with information overload and terms guarantee.

A same-day call from quality service.

Same-day email message. “Please call me immediately regarding your interest. I have a way for you to take advantage of great savings.”

The management call. “What can we do to earn your business?”

If you still fail to convert the lead, you must create an exact follow-up process from day two through the next 12 months. Don’t just write it off.

Stop struggling. Take advantage of this opportunity to differentiate yourself in today’s market. Create a solid follow-up system and make it part of your culture. Follow up or die out.

3 Sales Strategies to Steer Your Patient Away from Price

It may seem as though price is one of the largest factors when making sales, but, interestingly, studies show that the typical salesperson is a lot more concerned about price than the typical customer is. Yet new salespeople still seem to love to talk about price!  All that talking about price focuses your patient’s attention on it, even if they weren’t overly concerned with cost at the beginning of the interaction. Hearing aids can be very expensive and it may be hard not to touch on the price, but there are many ways to take your patient’s attention away from price and focus it elsewhere that will help you make the sale.

Smart salespeople handle price as if it were a minor consideration. Of course, when your patient makes it an issue, you need to deal with it effectively. But even then, effective salespeople try to minimize its importance.

Follow these three Hubspot tips during your next sale to minimize the importance of price while still maintaining a healthy margin.

1) Focus on benefits, not features or price.

The best way to convey to your patient that your product is the most appropriate solution to their problem (regardless of price) is to focus all your attention on the benefits. Never assume that a prospect fully understands the benefit of a feature — always point it out and expand on it. The more benefits you apply to the patient’s needs or wants, the more often you’re able to show them what’s in it for them if they choose to partner with you.

2) Build value and then work to deliver it.

When you create value in the eyes of your buyer, the product or service you’re offering becomes more desirable, and price becomes less important. By establishing value early on, you can actually make a higher price work for you as a competitive advantage. Sensible buyers realize that with most purchases, you get what you pay for, and when you do present your price, it can make a statement about the quality of your product.

Use the appointment as an opportunity to pinpoint exactly what the patient considers valuable in a solution, and adjust your offerings to meet that criteria. Price becomes less of an issue when a prospect sees that their problem will be solved.

Are you providing your patients with the best customer service? Here are 9 ways to up your customer service game.

3) Present your price confidently — and stick to it.

Success in sales will be driven by two essential factors: margin and volume. In order to maintain your profit margin, it’s necessary to present your price with confidence and stand firm on it. And to deal with price-cutting attempts, you’ll need to get comfortable responding to the phrase “your price is too high.” Try following up with these replies:

  • “Let me tell you why our price is where it is.” At this point, repeat each of the benefits your product provides and the emotional costs your prospect will save by partnering with you.
  • “Let me explain how each of the things we’ve discussed will help you.” Expand on the benefits they’ll receive and the emotional relief you’ll provide them.
  • “We can work to give you a better price. But to do that, we’ll have to remove some of the components we’ve discussed. Which would you like to eliminate?” Your prospect will likely not want to remove or reduce any of the benefits you’ve provided. When you use this as your last option, you’d be surprised at how often a prospect will find a way to make the price work.

By focusing less on price and more on the value you are able to provide your patient, you can keep your buyer’s attention on what they’re ultimately concerned with — finding the right solution. After that, it’s just details.

Are ALL of your employees selling efficiently? Even if they’re not “salespeople,” they should be selling, read more about why here.

Are You Providing Your Patients With the Best Customer Service?

Customer service is not solely one area of your business. Always remember that you are in business to serve your patients. Without them, you won’t be in business much longer. Being able and willing to deal with all kinds of customers. Having them walk away from an interaction satisfied, if not happy, should be your ultimate customer service goal. The nine points below will help you with that goal and improve your overall customer service experience.

1. Patience is a Virtue

Understand that patients often reach out to you when they are confused or upset. Although it is not you personally that they are frustrated with, it may seem that way. It can be especially frustrating when a patient cannot understand concepts that seem simple to you. Remember to be patient with every customer and help them to the best of your ability. You’re the patient’s rock, and you need to hold it together even when they can’t.

2. Be Attentive, Actively Listen

Listening is one of the simplest secrets of customer service. Listening means hearing what your patients are saying out loud, as well as what they are communicating non-verbally. Watch for signs that they are displeased, as well as what they say to you directly. Patients want to be heard just as much as they want their problems solved.

3. Knowledge is Power

Remember you’re not selling products and services, you’re selling good feelings and solutions to problems. In order to provide good customer service, you need to know what you’re selling, inside and out. Make sure you know how your products work. Be aware of the most common questions patients ask about your products, and know how to articulate the answers.

4. Positive Language Changes Everything

An example illustrates this best. Let’s say a customer contacts you with an interest in a particular product, but that product happens to be backordered until next month. Small changes that utilize “positive language” can greatly affect how the customer hears your response…
• Without positive language: “I can’t get you that product until next month; it is back-ordered and unavailable at this time.”
• With positive language: “That product will be available next month. I can place the order for you right now and make sure that it is sent to you as                     soon as it reaches our warehouse.”
The second example states the exact same thing as the first, but focuses on how you will resolve the customers problem of getting the backordered product, instead of focusing on the problem that the product is backordered.

5. Closing is Key

And I don’t mean “closing” a sale. A patient’s feelings at the end of a customer service interaction can determine their feelings about your products, service, or company as a whole. Make sure to end every customer service conversation with confirmed satisfaction (or as close to it as you can achieve) and with the customer feeling that everything has been taken care of (or will be). Being scooted out of the office before all of their problems have been addressed is the last thing that patients want. Be sure to take the time to confirm with customers that each and every issue they had on deck has been entirely resolved.

6. Appreciate Your Customers

Patients are very sensitive and know whether or not you really care about them. Treat them as individuals. Always use their name and find ways to compliment them, but be sincere. People value sincerity. It creates good feelings and trust. Think about ways to generate good feelings about doing business with you, and thank them every chance you get.

7. “Yes” Is a Powerful Word

Always look for ways to help your patients, and look for ways to make doing business with you easy.  When customers have a request (as long as it is reasonable) tell them that you can do it, and figure out how afterwards. Always do what you say you are going to do, but don’t over promise. If something is absolutely out of your control, send them to someone who can actually do something about it. The worst thing you can do is say yes to a request and then go back on your promise.

This is why you shouldn’t use the “under promise & over deliver” strategy for customer service.

8. Collect Feedback & Use It!

You may be surprised what you learn about your patients and their needs when you ask them what they think of your business, products, and services. You can use surveys, feedback forms and questionnaires. You can also make it a common practice to ask customers first-hand for feedback when they are in the office. But you need to do something with the feedback you receive in order to make it useful in your customer service process. Take time to regularly review feedback, identify areas for improvement, and make specific changes in your business.

9. Your Employees Are Customers

It’s important to make sure all of your employees, not just your customer-facing employees, understand the way they should talk to, interact with, and problem solve for customers. Provide employee training that gives your staff the tools they need to carry good customer service through the entire patient experience. If you treat your employees with great service, they will be more equipped to model that for your customers. Employees are your internal customers and need a regular dose of appreciation. Thank them and find ways to let them know how important they are. Treat your employees with respect and chances are they will have a higher regard for patients. Appreciation stems from the top. Treating patients and employees well is equally important.

Hire Employees Who Can Sell

For reasons that appear to be rooted in our sub-conscious, the phrase “to sell” evokes a negative emotion. In an attempt to make it more palatable professionals refer to the process as “a consultation”, “an evaluation” or any number of other equally and occasionally interesting terms.

If your objective is charity work, then give your service or product away for free. However if you aren’t independently wealthy you typically have to sell something to make money. You can have the best marketing program on the planet, but if 8 out of 10 people who come through your door leave with out buying anything, you won’t be in business very long.

What is Selling?

To sell, according to the American Heritage Dictionary, means to persuade another to recognize the worth or desirability of something. Too often the belief is that the product, whatever the product is and the attributes of the product should be all it takes to buy the product.

Wrong, customers buy with their emotions long before the rational part of their brain kicks in. While that’s easy to understand when it comes to some products (clothing, cars, weight loss programs and creams that remove wrinkles), it’s true of everything that you buy.

The sales process for any product can be very complicated. Many factors are involved. But more often than not its because everyone from the person who answers the phone to the person who checks you out understands that they are selling the customer. They are persuading the customer to choose your company for what they need or want to buy.

  • Yes it was a great idea to call us.
  • Yes, we’re so happy you came in today.
  • Yes, I am here to help you and if I can’t help you I promise to find someone who can help you.
  • Yes I really am thanking you for coming in today! I recognize that without you I don’t have a job.

Your Employees and Selling

Every so often really listen to and watch how your staff interacts with your customers. Do they grasp that the customer is important and that the customer is the reason they have a job? Or do they act annoyed because the customer interrupted whatever task they were in the middle of?

It may sound corny, but from a customer’s perspective this is going to go one of two ways. I’m sold or I walk. It makes more sense to make sure that every step along the way, including hiring employees who know how to sell gives the customer one more reason to say yes instead of one more reason to say no.

Are You Losing Hearing Aid Sales Because of Your Staff?

 

“Samson killed a thousand men with the jaw bone of an ass. That many sales are killed every day with the same weapon.”

To sell, according to the American Heritage Dictionary, means to persuade another to recognize the worth or desirability of something.   Too often the belief is that the product, whatever the product is and the attributes of the product should be all it takes to buy the product.

The sales process for any product can be very complicated. Many factors are involved. But more often than not its because everyone from the person who answers the phone to the person who checks you out understands that a large part of what they do is to sell the customer one or more of the following:

  • Yes it was a great idea to call us.
  • Yes, we’re so happy you came in today.
  • Yes, I am here to help you and if I can’t help you I promise to find someone who can help you.
  • Yes I really am thanking you for coming in today! I recognize that without you I don’t have a job.

Every so often really listen to and watch how your staff interacts with your customers.  Do they grasp that the customer is important and that the customer is the reason they have a job?  Or do they act annoyed because they were in the middle of filing out a form and were interrupted by a patient.

It may sound corny, but from a customer’s perspective this visit is going to go one of two ways.  I’m sold or I walk.  It makes more sense to make sure that every step along the way gives the customer one more reason to say yes instead of one more reason to say no.

Do You Really Know What You’re Selling?

My apologies for writing about selling again, but considering that your ability to sell a hearing aid is what generates revenue in your practice so maybe it’s not such a bad idea.

So once again…are you sure that you know what you’re selling?  Consumers will buy what they want long before they’ll buy what they need.  You need to learn to make a need, a want.

Too often business owners get caught up in the day to day running of the business and become focused on selling their “product”.  Rarely are you selling a “product”.  Take a look at the examples below of familiar “products”.  What they all have in common is that the focus is not on the “product” a ring, a drink, a car or a shoe.  The focus is on what the product can do for the potential consumer.

Is Coke just selling a brown, sugary, carbonated beverage?  This ad has become legendary and is routinely chosen as one of the best TV commercials ever made.

(Image courtesy of www.midwestsportsfans.com)

DeBeers is not just selling a sparkly stone encased in shiny metal.

(Image courtesy of www.DeBeers.com)

Does Volvo sell a big hunk of metal on four wheels that gets you from Point A to Point B?

(My apologies to Team Jacob).

(Image courtesy of www.twilightguide.com)

Nike is not selling an alternative to bare feet.

(Image courtesy of http://isabelphillipson.wordpress.com/)

Does Disney sell mice?  (Okay just threw that in there to see if you were paying attention.)

There is a huge difference between selling a product and selling what the product can do for you. “Hear better in noise” is probably one of the less appealing statements used in an ad.  Exactly who wants to hear noise at all?  In the arena of Audiology and Hearing Aid Dispensing, you are not selling a hearing aid. You are selling:

  • Tom that he’ll be able to hear his grandson tell him about catching his first fish.
  • Joan on the idea that she can still play cards with her friends.
  • Robert that his wife loves him and wants to be able to go to the movies again and sit in the same room and watch TV together, the way they used to.

Maybe none of this is news to you, maybe all of it is. But there are 24 million Americans walking around with a hearing loss who have no desire to wear hearing aids.  That doesn’t mean they aren’t having a problem hearing.  It means they don’t want what you’re selling.  Maybe it’s time to change what you’re selling.