Dealing with the “Price Question”
Medical practices that know how to intelligently handle the "price question" will create more opportunity to grow their practices.
We have seen a major evolution in how people are researching elective medical procedures on the Internet. "Cost" and "price" are among the highest searched terms in combination with any elective procedure. Accustomed to the instant gratification that the Internet so often delivers, the modern consumer expects to find this information easily, and those websites that don't deal with the "price question" may lose out on a prospective patient.
It wasn't long ago that many medical practices didn't care much for such "price shoppers." They were thought to be a waste of time, focusing on cost as opposed to quality of care. Times have changed. The recent economy has made nearly everyone cost conscious, even those who don't consider cost a major concern.
Now, it is very easy to find websites offering price ranges or average prices for any procedure. If you do not address the price question on your website, many prospective patients will leave your site in search of a site that does. However, you do not need to provide the actual cost of a procedure in order to address the issue. In fact, if you handle the price question properly as part of your healthcare online marketing strategy, you will be found on the search engines for "cost" searches and increase your conversion rate without even mentioning a number.
You Can Address the Price Question on Your Website without Actually Giving a Price
The best way to deal with the issue of cost online is to explain why an in-person consult is the only way a reputable medical professional can give a patient an accurate cost estimate. In fact, it is impossible to arrive at even a rough estimate of price without first meeting an individual. Explain that you create a custom treatment plan for each and every patient based on his or her specific needs. There are often multiple options available to the patient. Only through a one-on-one consultation can you and the patient develop a custom treatment plan that is appropriate for his or her specific needs and goals.
A good online strategy to deal with cost should:
- Address cost in your website without providing actual costs.
- Create content that explains the need for a customized treatment plan, including references to "cost" and "price" to attract the attention of the search engines.
- Encourage patients to schedule a consultation to receive their custom treatment plan and price quote.
The purpose of your website content is to provide enough basic information to entice readers to contact the practice, but not so much that they find the content more intimidating than engaging. By explaining that prices can and do vary from patient to patient, and that you can only get into exact numbers by meeting the person face to face, you increase the chances that curious readers will reach out to you to schedule that initial consultation.
►The Advantage to You:
- Be found on the search engines
- Set yourself apart from your competitors
- Take advantage of the conversion opportunity, at the moment when the prospective patient is ready to take action.
Make Sure Your Phone Staff Knows How to Handle the Price Question
Your practice should deal with calls about cost similarly to how you deal with the issue online. The number-one objective of the person answering the phone should be to schedule consultations. The doctor that does the consultation is likely the doctor that will perform the surgery. If you or a very strong patient coordinator with sales experience is not personally working with the people answering the phones at your practice, you are likely missing opportunities to bring in new patients.
The person answering your phones needs to be able to convey the importance of scheduling a one-on-one consultation with you at your office. Just as with visitors to your website, people who call your practice need to understand that the only way to get an accurate quote is through a personal consultation and the creation of a custom treatment plan. They need to be made aware of the fact that every patient is different and the practice treats everyone as a unique individual with very specific needs. The price "objection" can be touchy at times, but an experienced professional can convert those touchy moments into consultations without offering a price.
A good phone strategy to deal with the price question should:
- Help prospective patients understand that cost is based on the specific needs of each person, and therefore cannot be estimated before meeting an individual.
- Never give an estimate of cost over the phone.
- Schedule the consultation.
It is very important to train your phone staff just as you would train a salesperson. The phone staff should have a script at hand at all times. A simple outline will work fine. In fact, you should allow the staff to let their personalities shine through, as long as they hit all of the high points outlined in the script. They should also have a list of the top objections, including those regarding cost, and how to respond to each one.
►The Advantage to You:
- Get a competitive advantage over your slow-to-adapt competitors.
- Turn your receptionist into a profit center rather than a cost center.
- Once a patient has scheduled a consultation with you, he or she is unlikely to contact a competitor.
The In-Office Consultation: Answering the Price Question at Last
The ultimate goal of the consultation should be to schedule the procedure. If a prospective patient walks out the door without booking a procedure, there is a good chance that he or she won't be returning. One of the keys to closing the deal is to communicate openly and honestly about all aspects of the procedure, including price.
When the time comes to discuss the specific price of a procedure during the consultation, do not tap dance around it. Be up front about all of the costs involved in the procedure, and leave no room for surprises. If you offer financing options or work with a third-party financing company, make this clear to the prospective patient. Ultimately, the issue of price becomes less daunting when the overall cost can be broken down into manageable monthly payments.
Most importantly, stand by the worth of your services. Remember, you have invested countless hours of study, made significant monetary investments, and taken many risks to get where you are. Give the price, assume the sale, and book the surgery.
This does not mean that you have to be pushy, but you should be confident in your prices and ability to produce superior results. This sort of self-assurance is essential to answering the price question satisfactorily.
►The Advantage to You: Your honest, direct approach to the price question will identify you as a professional who has adapted to the new economic climate and is confident in the value of your talents and skills.
Ultimately, the price question is actually a buying question, in which the basic laws of human nature apply:
- Everyone wants a deal.
- In general, people are more concerned with monthly payments than the overall price of a procedure.
- People make emotional decisions.
- People make impulsive decisions.
Understanding these fundamental truths about your prospective patients will allow you and your staff to anticipate their concerns and strategically answer their questions about cost. Sometimes the art of business boils down to turning a potentially negative issue into a positive one. Indeed, by dealing with the price question properly, you can make your practice truly stand out in these tough economic times.