The 3 Most Dreaded Questions in Hearing Health Counseling

I often get asked the question, “How have y’all (yes, we say y’all a lot) been able to grow your practice recently, given the current climate of the hearing health profession?”  Maybe I’m paraphrasing a bit, but I’m sure you get the idea.  How have we been able to grow our practice organically, without the use of Third Party Administrators (TPAs) or other non-organic lead generation vessels?  There’s a long answer, and there’s a short answer.  I’ve found the short answer typically works the best, so here it is:

We train, practice, and rehearse every message we want to get to our patients and potential patients, whether through marketing channels or in person, over and over again.

There it is.  There is no secret weapon.  There is no short cut.  Just good old-fashioned training and preparation. 

This would be a rather short and disappointing article if that were the end of it.  So please bear with me while I continue to the long answer.

How many times have we gotten ourselves in trouble for the words we say in the moment that perhaps did not come out just right?  How many times do we wish we could take those words back, adjust them ever-so-slightly, in order to better express exactly what we meant at that moment in time.  How many times have we rehearsed in our car on our way home what we wanted to say to our loved ones once we got home?  If we can accept the premise that the worst time to think about what we’re going to say is in the heat of the moment, then shouldn’t we approach our own business in the same manner as our personal lives?

Well, you’re in luck, because here are a couple of tried and true phrases that can help you overcome some of the objections we receive in our practices every day. 

1)  How much will my insurance pay for these hearing aids? 

Take a deep breath. This one is getting trickier every day, but here’s how we handle this one.  Unless there is a “bona fide” hearing aid benefit to the patient like the Federal Employee Program, the easiest way to handle this objection is to insert some doubt into the likelihood of any middle-man providing any actual benefit to the relationship between us and our patients.  In most cases with the current Third Party Discount Plans we have become increasingly aware of, there is no actual payment for hearing aids.  We know there is no tangible benefit for our patient to utilize the “benefit” offered by their Medicare Advantage plan.  So, how do we get this message across when the hearing aids are cheaper through their insurance?  We need a set of facts, and a concise message, that illustrates this point without misleading or misrepresenting the “offer.” 

First, the patient needs to be informed they have received a marketing offer, not an insurance benefit, as that is most likely the case.  Then, they need to be asked rather frankly if they trust their insurance company to make the best healthcare decisions for themselves and their loved ones, or if they prefer to make informed decisions based on all the facts available.  We then provide the following facts (yes, facts).  You will save money today if you decide to use the discounts available to you through your insurance company and a third party, which is most likely owned by a hearing aid manufacturer.  You may buy the hearing aid from them, and save some money today, sure.  However, of the life expectancy of the hearing aid, you can probably expect to pay more by going through an intermediary.  Having a quick sheet explaining your service fees and what they can expect to pay for your services a la carte would go a long way in visualizing this perceived benefit.

2)  Can’t I get these cheaper at . . . . (fill in the blank)

The answer to this question should always be a resounding “YES!”  Shout it from the rooftops.  Embrace the fact you are not the cheapest.  The best response to this question is something along the lines of “of course you can.  I didn’t realize you were looking for the cheapest possible solution for your communication challenges.  If it’s cheap you’re looking for, there are a lot of solutions out there.”  However, what the prospect doesn’t want is something cheap.  If they wanted cheap they would not have come to see us in the first place (unless we’re advertising cheap hearing aids, and that’s a different article altogether). 

You see, it’s quite easy to be cheap.  There’s a reason why it’s called a cheap shot, and a skinflint is also known as a cheapskate.  No one likes to be associated with cheap.  It’s quite a different story however, when we compete on being better.  By bringing value instead of price to the table.  My advice here is to lean into the fact that you’re not the cheapest.  Would they want the cheapest doctor in town?  What about the cheapest lawyer?  While we’re at it, why not the cheapest plumber they could find?  It makes sense in all of these situations to find the best value you can.  Not the cheapest.  Why should better hearing be an exception to that rule?

3)  Do you service/repair/sell XYZ hearing aids?

We all know that it is very difficult to keep up with the latest of technology with each new hearing aid release.  And although that is difficult enough, what is even more difficult is keeping up with the nuances of older technology when it walks in our doors.  Ever tried to connect an analog hearing aid digitally?  I have.  It doesn’t work.  And early in my career I wasted everyone’s time by trying to breathe life into hearing devices that were well beyond their useful lives.  We all do it.  We all will continue to do it.  It’s how we’re programmed in this profession.  We help.  But are we always doing the patient a service by keeping them in antiquated technology when an affordable improvement is better? 

So, when someone asks, “do you service Acme hearing aids?” the answer should always be “yes, but there are certain limitations depending on the make, model, and age of the hearing aid.  We’d be happy to take a look and see what we can do to help.”  Never miss an opportunity this way. Don’t overpromise anything, but leave that door open for your ability to help, whether through a simple filter change, or perhaps the option of upgrading to better service and technology.

All in all, this business/profession/industry is uniquely complex, yet beautifully rewarding.  However, we as a business/profession/industry have done a rather incomplete job when it comes to both delivering on our promises, as well as not being able to deliver on outspoken promises.  The best way to mitigate against both of those scenarios is to know exactly what to say, and when to say it. 

Nick Pitt
Vice-President at Optimal Hearing

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