Clinical Kit 104 - Understanding Your Client

Do you Understand What Your Client Truly Wants?


The psychology of selling


What the .......!!

If you don’t like your job, then stop reading now.

However if you enjoy it and want to be successful, I suggest you read on.

I can hear some of you saying, “Hey Doug I didn’t sign up for your Clinical Kits to learn about selling. I am a health professional. I help people, I don’t sell them anything!”

With entrenched mental pictures of used car salesperson (ranked 30th) or politicians (ranked 25th least trust worthy in an annual poll of 30 professions) this is totally understandable. Given the top three positions in this same poll are medical or allied health, it is also true that the public perceives us as having high ethical standards and we are honest in our dealings with them.

Don’t get me wrong, I was repulsed when first confronted with this thought. When I was considering my direction in life, I didn’t go looking for a sleazy profession that involved selling or was going to earn me lots of money. Far from it! I recall very clearly my shopping list for my profession of the future to be a;

  • Profession that helped people
  • Profession that was portable and largely hands on
  • Profession that wasn’t reliant on equipment and medications

It took me a while to realise, but the reality is that if as a health professional you are providing a service that people are paying for, then you are selling. Period. The client, patient, customer, is making a choice based upon real or perceived benefits that you will be able to assist them with their problem. If they didn’t, they wouldn’t spend their hard earned cash and come to your door!

So the question you should be asking yourself, is not am I selling, but am I aware of what I am selling? Furthermore am I letting others know who would benefit from what I am selling?

Solving Emotions not Problems

In todays world, people are looking for solutions to their problems. Those that can identify the true problem and provide a corresponding solution, will do well because there is a limitless supply of problems. With your clients you may think you are solving a pain problem or a stiffness problem. Usually no, it is just you have been taught to view the situation through that objective lens because you can measure these elements. Sure, most of your clients will  come in and say I can't play ....  or I can't go to the such and such ...... because of this or that pain, but we are hearing the "pain aspect," not the emotional aspect, the bit they can't DO because of the pain.

Humans are largely driven by their emotions. We make choices based upon what makes them happy, nurtured, excited, and different choices when we are sad, angry, lonely or depressed. Watch the news? I don't, because it stokes negative emotion, but it gets attention and plenty do watch. If we as practitioners can identify with our clients what is the emotional aspect to their problem, we can frame their solution in language that resonates with them. "This treatment has been shown to reduce swelling, so you are much more likely to play finals" cf. "Treating your anterior talofibular ligament in this way will result in an 80% gain in collagen strength". Saying the first way is more likely to see the client investing their time in your proposed treatment.

Think ligament injury prevention. YOU know improving ligament strength/proprioceptive response is important, THEY want to play as many games leading up to finals. "This exercise program has been shown to improve ankle stability and reduce the likelihood of future ankle injuries by 50%". Blah blah blah. You know performing these exercises for 5 minutes a day 5 times per week is effective. Are they interested?  Not really. Even when the exercises have been related to future injury prevention as that is 'long term future talk' in their eyes. But if you said  "This exercise program reduces injury rates by 50% so you are more likely to play a full season and be in top form form finals" - now they are more interested because you are talking THEIR language.

Confused? As a health professional, you possess a hard earned qualification. True! Does that guarantee you a successful career? Nope. Sorry but that is the reality. Let me explain with an example.

Over the years we have hired many new professional staff. Recently all had the same qualifications, as we were looking for someone particular, yet the results were spectacularly different. One practitioner developed a full caseload within 2 months. Clients really related to this person and she understood their hopes and aspirations. People in town still ask after this practitioner, even though they left 4 years ago. Result. Would we hire this person again? Absolutely!

Contrast to this, we hired another practitioner to replace the previous person when they left to travel. Within three months this new person was sitting in the waiting room, moaning to the receptionist how they didn’t have enough clients, the practice was too slow and Esperance was boring. Result. After 6 months we mutually agreed that the clinic wasn’t busy enough and it was best they moved on. A further 2 months on, and the clinic was back to the same numbers before this person arrived.

Macro and Micro Business

So who is responsible for generating client referrals in your clinic?  Do you believe the clinic is supposed to provide you with clients. Wrong! That to me is a negative mindset and one ship that will sink sooner or later. Sure the clinic will have some over flow, but as a person that has worked in clinics in Australia and overseas, big and small, metro and rural; if you want to be a successful clinician, you need to recognize that a clinic is the MACRO business. The macro business provides you with professional visibility in the community, administration services, location and equipment, networks to access plus professional mentoring and support. If you want to succeed in your chosen profession, you need to think of yourself as a MICRO business nestled within a macro business. Here are some pointers;

  1. You need to see every client as a long-term relationship
  2. You need to develop visibility and awareness of your skills in your community
  3. You need to be seen as the ‘go to person’ to provide solutions to the problems and challenges that are affecting your clients
  4. You need to develop systems and process that make it easy for clients to find you and refer to you over time

Why? Simple. If you are good at what you do, they you are doing current and future clients a disservice but not making the solutions you offer as visible and easy for them to access.

I recall seeing a lady with an 8-month history of radiating L arm pain & parathesias. Literally driving her crazy. The medical model had provided XR, CTS, MRI and ramped up her medications from panadene forte to endone, and lyrica to manage the pain. With little reduction in symptoms over the 8 months, she gave up on this cocktail of drugs after seeing green men crawling up her walls! She had been to a couple of other practitioners during this time, with no success and finally on advice of a friend (a past client), she presented to our clinic. After assessment and elimination of red flags it became clear it she was experiencing pain sourced from an irritation of her left serratus posterior superior of her third rib. One dry needling session (covered in our Advanced Upper Quadrant Course) and she was 80% better. All her symptoms were gone within a week.

Why am I telling you this story? It was my fault in part that she had suffered so long! She had actually been a client of mine 3 years prior and we had successfully solved that problem. She had already seen me, and knew me, had a positive clinical experience, yet she didn’t think to seek me out with this new problem. Why? I was filed away but forgotten in her mind. This is where having an automated system that uses the power of consistent ‘keep in contact’ communication, is so powerful. Clients forget us after we get them better. Do you realised that you don’t notice car tire adverts in the paper, until you need a new set of tires? In the same way clients don’t see us, unless they need us and if we are not first and foremost in their recent memory, they may not think to access our services. A win win is when they need us, they think of us.

Take Home Messages

1. You are a health professional providing a fee for professional service, you are selling. If you want to go on providing that important service, you need to be successful.

2. Consider yourself as a business within a business; if you are successful, chances are you will get to keep your job, gain experience and be in a position to negotiate improved terms at your next appraisal.

3. Take the responsibility to engage with your clients from the viewpoint of a long-term, repeated contact, relationship. It takes 7 times the resources to develop a new relationship, in comparison to maintaining an existing one.

4. Develop systems and processes that enable easy ‘keep in contact’ messages, which maintain clients’ awareness of your services and products. You don’t want them to forget the range of services you offer, and as a result needlessly suffer in pain because they didn’t know whom to turn to for advice.

Keep in the loop

With the recent change in direction at the APA, it looks likely that AAP Education will be unable to advertise through InMotion or other APA publications any more as they see our courses as competitive to their own. For this reason we will be primarily posting up to date course changes, short pieces and links of clinical importance onto our FaceBook page. Please take a second to LIKE this page via this LINK and in this way also stay up to date.

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