Overcoming Patient Objections
Your patients come in for a reason. They didn’t just decide one day, “You know what? I have a few minutes to kill — I feel like getting a hearing test.” Whether it’s spousal concern, an incident at work, a doctor’s referral, or something else entirely, the patient sitting in front of you had reason to believe they have a hearing loss. So what’s keeping them from purchasing hearing technology from you?
Before you can navigate an objection, you have to understand its type and what’s motivating it.
Why Patient Objections Happen
You can’t overcome an objection until you understand the motivation behind it. Let’s look at four primary reasons for objections.
Often an objection is fueled by anxiety about things that are commonly associated — rightly or wrongly — with hearing aids:
- Getting old
- Hearing aids signaling “the beginning of the end”
- Spending lots of money
- Being seen as “someone who needs hearing aids”
Objections are sometimes fueled by the assumptions that both the patient and the provider bring to any sales conversation.
Patient assumptions include:
- “Hearing aids are big and ugly.”
- “They won’t really work.”
- “I can get them cheaper somewhere else.”
- “I can order them online.”
Provider assumptions include:
- “The patient isn’t ready yet.”
- “The patient won’t be able to afford it.”
- “The patient only wants the lowest level of technology.”
Sometimes the patient has an incomplete picture of hearing technology and hearing health. Often they don’t understand:
- The impact of hearing loss on overall health
- Their companion’s perspective
- The difference between a hearing aid and a PSAP
- The added value of private-practice hearing care versus that of, for example, Costco
- The patient commitment required with hearing devices
No Perceived Benefit
Sometimes the patient simply isn’t seeing enough benefit to justify the cost. This usually happens because of something they didn’t get from the consultation. For example, there was no emotional tie-in or they don’t see how your practice is different from the competition.
Types of Patient Objections
Not all objections are based on money. Know how to identify the kind of objection you’re dealing with so you can make an educated decision about the kinds of questions to ask.
A no-hurry patient seems to want hearing aids, but they claim there’s a priority competing with their purchase decision. For example:
- “My daughter’s wedding is in the fall. I’ll wait until after.”
- “We’re going on vacation in a month. I’ll call you when I get back.”
- “I want to wait until after I get my tax refund.”
(No hurry objections always have a time-based element to them.)
No Worry (The Classic Denial Patient)
A no-worry patient thinks their hearing is fine or the problem isn’t that bad. Common comments:
- “It’s really not a big deal. My husband just talks a little louder for me.”
- “Everybody mumbles — I don’t have a problem.”
- “I can hear you perfectly clear right now, so it must not be that bad.”
- “I’ve been getting by just fine. I can wait a little longer.”
We live in a culture where talking about money is taboo. A no-money patient might say they can’t afford something so they can stop the conversation. You need to determine if they are a true no-money patient or a maybe-money patient.
A no-money patient truly does not have funds available. Telltale objections include:
- “I’m on a fixed income. There is no way I can make that work.”
- “I literally don’t have that money in my bank account.”
- “I’ll never be able to afford those — are there any other options?”
Maybe-money patients just have sticker shock, but they do have the funds available. This generally leads to an objection based on value:
- “Wow, those are expensive!”
- “I’m not going to pay that much!”
- “The cost is just too high!”
No-value patients either don’t see the value in hearing aids at all or they don’t see the value of buying them from you. These are often undercover no-money objections:
- “I saw them at Costco for a quarter of the price.”
- “I don’t need them bad enough to spend that much money.”
- “Can’t I get hearing aids online? Why should I get them here?”
The no-companion patient needs to consult with someone else before deciding. It could be a valid objection or an excuse to get out of the appointment. Examples include:
- “I need to go home and talk to my wife first.”
- “My son oversees my finances. I need to get his approval.”
Overcoming Patient Objections
Fight or Flight — Right?
Objections are typically responded to in the same way as any disagreement or challenge: fight or flight. The challenge is met or backed away from.
Meeting the challenge would look something like this: “Our hearing aids are priced within the fair market value. The reason they are so expensive is the technology that goes into them. Quality hearing aids are not cheap; if you spend a lot less, you won’t get the quality and care you need.” The points are valid, but it’s a combative approach, not a productive one.
Backing down comes from fear of upsetting the patient or appearing pushy. It sounds like this: “I’m sorry you feel that way. I’m here if you ever change your mind.” Though well intentioned, it stops the appointment in its tracks.
Our natural instinct — fight or flight — isn’t productive here.
So Now What?
Many objections go back to that last item from the previous section: the perceived benefit. Is what you get worth what you pay?
People perceive benefits based on their perspective. Their perspective is driven by what they see, and in this case, our patients and prospects see a lot of ads focused on price, not service. To many of our patients, value is synonymous with price.
To change the perceived benefit, steer the conversation away from price and use a different strategy: Ask questions to better understand their perspective.
The most common mistake when dealing with objections is pushing information and opinions onto the patient. It’s always better to pull information from them. Slow down and ask questions. A patient who thinks their feelings are being discredited will go elsewhere. But you also need to know what kind of questions to ask and when.
Open-ended questions put the spotlight on the patient. You can understand their perspective, gain context, learn what’s on their mind — and tease out their real objections. Examples include:
- “What additional information might help you feel more comfortable with what we’ve discussed so far?”
- “May I ask what your expectation was regarding the cost? I’d like a better understanding of where you’re coming from.”
Closed-ended questions are used to get confirmation, check for understanding, or get permission to move the conversation forward. Ask closed-ended questions when a patient has more barriers up. Closed-ended questions can nudge the conversation forward and give you permission to ask open-ended questions. Examples include:
- “If we can find a solution that meets your budget and needs, would you want to treat your hearing?”
- “Are you interested in hearing about our financing options?”
It might seem counterintuitive, but often the most fruitful way to handle objections is to honor them and encourage open discussion, with you listening more than talking. The more rapport you build, the more trust they have in you and your practice. The more they trust you, the more they start to see the value rather than the price.
Navigating objections can be tricky, which is why Audigy’s team of professional development experts is here to support you. Contact us to learn more.