By Oliver F. von Borstel, MBD
Most customers who need a hearing solution don’t know what they actually need—what is the most suitable for them? In my experience as an HCP Personal Coach, I have found that about 80% of hearing aid customers (whether new or existing) have a need that can only be solved by advanced hearing aids. Thus we have the Cocktail Party Effect.
The Cocktail Party Effect
The primary need (of most clients) is not just hearing speech, but understanding speech in busy environments or at parties. The responsibility of a professional in the dispenser industry is to advise the customer of the individual best and most optimal hearing solution.
The Hearing Aid Industry today
Worldwide, there are 5 large producers of high quality hearing aids on the market. All of them offer advanced hearing aid solutions. But there are also a large number of smaller players, producers who often offer their hearing aids through alternative outlets such as in supermarkets (here in Holland Lidl, for EURO 9.99 per piece!) or on the Internet.
Often they try to make customers buy through extraordinarily low prices and or by free extra services which, on the surface, makes sense. For example, they might offer free delivery or 60 day return policies at no cost. Most of the time, they promise that that these hearing aids are equal to those at a professional dispenser. The end user is confused: why pay more elsewhere if these cost so little, and if they’re the same or better than those at big boxes or independent dispensers?
Product Selling versus Top-down Solution Selling
I call it right at the beginning: If a big discount is promised, or prices are offered far below those of a quality brand dispenser, then something is definitely different! The cheaper product or solution can never offer the same. In gimmicks or low-cost product selling, the margin is much lower. However, with Top-down Solution Selling, the added value that a customer gets is central, with value—and not price—as the most important selling point. What are the advantages that a client receives when buying? This is crucial in the market of all medical products and services: solutions that fit the needs and hidden needs of the customer.
Non-Manipulative Ethical Selling
In Ethical Selling, the needs of a customer are #1. This is actually a part of the Patient Centered Care (PCC) concept. Generally speaking, a doctor or professional should always provide advice as to the best medical care, tools, or medications that help the customer in the most optimal way. But this isn’t always the case!
In our industry, in particular it is the providers and/or big boxes who use the price in order to get the most numbers of clients as fast as possible: it is often the price, but not the solution, which attracts clients. This creates short-lived ‘satisfied customers’ because they believe that they bought a product or service much cheaper than offered elsewhere. Once they find out that it does not respond optimally or even satisfactorily to their needs, then they are dissatisfied. This is fatal to the business because then these customers will not recommend the supplier to others either!
It is the responsibility of the professional hearing aid dispenser to (1) always advise the customer on the individual best and most optimal hearing solution, and (2) improve the quality of life of both the client and his/her family.
Spouses, partners, and family members often have the same needs or hidden needs as the actual customer. For example, a customer might turn on the TV to where it is too loud while the spouse is suffering. Or a spouse might often be irritated because the customer often says, ‘What did you say? ‘ It is not about selling a ‘hearing aid’, but advising on a hearing solution which will have a positive impact on the life of the customer and spouse (and family and friends!) for the next 3 to 5 years.
What is Non-Manipulative Ethical Selling all about? Improving someone’s quality of life!
The Importance of Non-Manipulative Ethical Selling
Why is Non-Manipulative Ethical Selling so important? As stated before, it’s about advising a customer on the individual best and most optimal hearing solution! And to have it tested by him/her in a trial period. The aim is that the customer will pay at the end of the trial period, convinced of the hearing aid solution.
It is important that the Hearing Care Professional (HCP) underpins his/her advice with arguments and facts that match the needs and hidden needs of the customer and those of his/her spouse or other family members.
Generally, a professional hearing aid solution is usually more than just the hearing aid. Many other accessories are also included in this solution which improves quality of life, such as a TV streamer, external microphones, Telecoil, operation with an app, and so on. However, professional services can also be included, such as remote services to adjust hearing aids, or even TeleCare where the professional assists the customer or maintains customer contact face-to-face on an optimal, recurring basis.
If a customer and/or spouse has feels that they are receiving the best possible help from a professional dispenser, then he/she becomes a FAN—this is crucial for your business! Why? A Fan is going to recommend you and your services to others, including friends, family members, co-workers, even strangers, giving you proactive and positive references through Word-of-Mouth.
The Non-Manipulative Ethical Selling concept for the independent dispenser is so important because (1) your business will quickly be distinguished from others and with your fans enabling your business to grow to its fullest potential, and (2) your turnover and profit will quickly improve because you are not selling ‘products’ with the price as the #1 feature, but rather a hearing solution to improve the quality of life for the client and those close to him/her.
Your customers expect all of this from you—so stop selling, and start helping…using top quality, total solutions.
I would like you to think about a quote which has driven me and brought me success for many years:
“Get closer than ever to your customers. So close, in fact, that you tell them what they need before they realize it themselves!” -Steve Jobs
Oliver F. von Borstel, Expert of Ethical Selling Hearing Aid Solutions & Audiologist/HIS Personal Coach. He founded 13 years ago Masters of Business Development BV in Europe, a recognized firm in supporting hearing aid dispensers worldwide to become more successful. Oliver is a accredited member of the Dutch National StAr Audiologist Association.