Ep.60: How to Convert a Prospective Cosmetic Patient
What I’ve learned from consulting in this industry for 20 years and writing the book on it, the #1 reason cosmetic patients do NOT choose you is that they didn’t feel a connection with you.The good news is you can improve that fairly easily to increase your closing ratio and that’s what this podcast is all about.
How to Convert a Cosmetic Patient
Converting rates can be frustrating in today’s competitive world. You’ve spent the time, money and effort in getting prospective patients through your door, yet too many of them don’t book for some reason.
So then you ask, Why not? Is it the competition? Is it your marketing? Is it your staff?
What I’ve learned from consulting in this industry for 20 years and writing the book on it, the #1 reason cosmetic patients do NOT choose you is that they didn’t feel a connection with you.
The good news is you can improve that fairly easily to increase your closing ratio and that’s what this podcast is all about.
First, consider what an aesthetic patient is really buying. Emotionally, some are buying time, recognition, prestige, happiness and love. Some will tell you they want to stay competitive in the marketplace, look better now that they are newly single, are going to a class reunion and want to make an old boyfriend jealous. Things like that..
The bottom line is that your patient wants to feel better – period! They believe looking better will make them feel better about themselves. Now, they just need to find the right surgeon to help them.
Knowing this, you must address their wants, needs, fears and disappointments. The aesthetic patient is buying hope. hope that you will give them a good result, with minimal pain and discomfort and that their lives will improve.
You are in the business of feelings. The aesthetic patient wants to feel special, understood, important, comfortable, significant and respected. They want to know you care about them as a person and you will give them what they want.
They expect to be treated nicely and respectfully and, frankly, if they don’t get those warm fuzzy feelings from you and your staff, they will go to your competitor who will treat them better and they’ll take their friends with them.
So how do you make that connection with a prospective cosmetic patient?
The connection starts with the initial telephone call they make to your office.
Your receptionist must have the personality and the training to build a relationship with the caller quickly.
She’s got to be friendly, professional, caring and trained to use her tone of voice and strategic scripts to “lead” the caller to book a consultation with you.
For example, she needs to introduce herself first and then learn the caller’s name so she can use it throughout the call to help her bond with the caller.
Then She needs to be skilled at asking questions and getting answers from the caller that moves them through the steps to schedule a consultation with you.
Now you want to build trust with this new prospective patient so they come pre-sold on you before you meet them, so here’s what you do…
Send them a formal patient information packet or digital packet that contains a welcome letter from you and include specific information about your procedure(s), your credentials, photos or you and your office, your cancellation policy as well as your PR pieces and practice newsletter if you have one.
Also include your before/after photos, reviews and links to patient video testimonials. This helps the patient feel comfortable with your skill and expertise.
the next step is to Evaluate every aspect of your practice from the patient’s perspective. Many surgeons either overlook this or give it only passing attention. Every detail is either building rapport or destroying it. Be sure your office is clean, organized and aesthetically pleasing. Be sure your staff is presentable and personable. Be sure you are.
Your patients want to identify with you, your staff and your office. If you can make the prospective patient feel good, important, and comfortable as well as understand their needs, they are yours.
Now you and your staff want to build rapport with the visiting prospective patient.
Rapport is that bond you build with your prospective patient so they trust you. You do it through words, tone and gestures as well as commonalities since:
7% of what is communicated is through words
38% through tone of voice
55% body language – facial expressions, gestures, and movements
Building Rapport is simple but it takes a little time. You just have to care enough to go the extra step to connect with your patient.
It can also be the difference between a prospective patient booking surgery or continuing to shop around so here are some tips:
1 ) Show interest in prospective patients as a person first, patient second. Smile when you see them, extend your hand, make eye contact, show enthusiasm and use magic words and phrases such as:
• “Hello” with a smile and “Glad to meet you”
• Use the patient’s name often
• Ask them how are they doing
2) Create or discover things in common with the patient:
– perhaps it’s your patient who referred her
– or you both grew up in the same town
– or a friend of yours works at the same company they work at. Then you want to :
3) “Mirror” the patient’s breathing patterns, posture, tonality and gestures
– if the patient talks fast, you talk fast
– if the patient talks loud, you talk loud
– if the patient is meek and quiet, you slow things down
– use the same terms and phrases the patient uses, such as nose job.
When done right, the patient will feel that you listened and understand her and that’s when she starts looking at you as the perfect surgeon for her.
Next, you want to communicate clearly your degree of competence, skill and mastery, since patients can’t see what you are offering and must go by what you are “saying and showing” them.
Be able to explain what you do clearly so your patient can easily grasp it and relay it back. Use non-medical language, to explain clearly, the procedure, the result, the recuperation and the risks.
And sometimes less is more. Some patients don’t want to know how you made the clock. The just want to know what time it is.
In other words, be brief and then confirm they have heard enough or they would like more detail.
Here is the touch part…. LISTEN!
Listening is a skill. It’s also one of the most important skills you can perfect to close more consultations. The prospective patient needs to know you heard them, you heard their concerns and you understand what they are saying.
Effective listening requires more than hearing the words said. It demands that you find meaning and understanding in what’s being said. Meanings are not in words, but in people.
Try to see things from their point of view or frame of reference. Listen with empathy.
Remember, while you’ve been through this thousands of times, this may be her first time and she’s out of her comfort zone.
Note your listen-versus-talk ratio. It’s always better to listen more than you talk so you can hear and address the prospective patient’s concerns.
The next stage is to Educate Your Patient and Set Expectations
Expectations come from word-of-mouth, personal needs, and past experience. Expectations must be understood and then addressed and that begins with how patients learn and take in information. People learn information in three different learning styles – visual, auditory and kinesthetic:
Visual people want to see the results
Auditory people want to hear about the results
Kinesthetic people want to touch and feel the results
All of us have elements of all three modes but usually one mode dominates. So, you want to present your message in a way that gets through to the patient in the way they understand it best.
To keep it simple, your consultation should have something for everyone – something visual, something auditory and something kinesthetic. Show them things, let them hear things and attach feelings and emotions to them. Some marketing tools to help:
Computer Imaging – 96% wanted it
Before/After Photos Books they can hold
Videos of procedures on ipad they can hold
Patient video testimonials
Prospective patient calling former patients
Let them touch and feel implants
Patient information packets with PR pieces, articles you’ve written, your credentials, your practice brochure – again, something they can touch and feel
Now, let’s move on to The Consultation
The consultation is your opportunity to learn more about the prospective patient. The prospective patient has a problem that they want you to solve. Find out how big the problem is and how it is affecting their life because you need to attach strong emotional reasons for them wanting the change.
Then assure them there is a solution and back it up with real evidence and social proof so they see you as the best choice.
Start with an open-ended question and then let them answer you without any feedback or interjection from you. Something as simple as “What can I do for you today?” gets the discussion going.
Whatever they say to you, repeat back to them so they know you heard them and that you understand how they feel.
Then I hope your coordinator has asked some of these questions to assess the patient and their expectations. You are looking for the red flags to NOT do surgery on them such as:
– How many consults have they been on and are they talking negatively about your competitors?
• Do they have a history of dissatisfaction with previous surgeons?
• Do they have history of previous lawsuits?
• Do they ask repeated questions on material just covered?
• Do they exhibit awkward social relationships/hostility/excessive demands on your office staff?
But also gather helpful information so you know where you stand with them, such as:
– What’s their timeframe? Do they have an event coming up or other time constraints?
– What do they know about the procedure they are interested in?
– has anyone else they know had this surgery and, if so, what was their experience like?
You’re looking for any preconceived ideas they have that you may need to dispel.
Now, Be sure to compliment the patient and ensure her she is perfect just the way she is; however, if she insists, you could help her.
The patient must feel like you have their best interests at heart.
And another tip is to not oversell. For example, if the patient wants her eyes done and you advise her that she could also use a brow lift, neck lift and face lift, most patients will be shell-shocked and insulted. Tread lightly here.
And, make sure their reasons for having cosmetic surgery are based on reality. Have them look at all the aspects of their life – both dark and light. Cosmetic surgery won’t bring their spouse back or get them the big job promotion. Plastic surgery has its boundaries and limitations.
Now, it is time for them to listen to you – especially if what they want is not in their best interest. But don’t tell them no, tell them why what they want won’t work, why you would be remiss in giving them what they want, and be sure they know that just because a procedure was good for one person (celebrity) it may not be good for them. Be sure they know that false hope can get them into trouble and you are here to be the voice of reason.
Explain again how you can help them and focus on the good results you’ve gotten and talk about the risks, downtime, etc. but don’t harp on it during the consultation. Give them just enough information to address their risks, fears and concerns so they can make an informed decision.
Now establish your value even more and do some tooting of your horn but do it professionally. For example, mention that you have performed this procedure hundreds of times, you just gave a talk on this very subject at a medical conference and/or you wrote a paper on this. Mention anything that distinguishes you from your competitors.
My last tip is to have a closing statement that transitioins them from you to your coordinator who will discuss pricing and scheduling.
Patients love to hear they are the perfect candidate for this procedure and reassure them you are confident they will be pleased with their result and you look forward to seeing them again soon.
Ok, that’s it for today and, obviously, there much more to this because you are dealing with emotional, irrational, unpredictable humans but if you can make a connection with the patient, you’re that much closer to a yes!
Catherine is a business/marketing consultant to plastic surgeons. She speaks at medical conferences all over the world on practice building, marketing and the business side of plastic surgery.