It's ironic that for the first article in this new column, Customer Communications, I choose to tell you to "Shut Up!" Is it mean to say this? Well, that’s not my intention. I only share this advice because we’re talking too much and at the wrong time when communicating with our patients/customers. We just are!
Most of the eye care professionals I meet tell me that they just love, love, love educating their patients. “How is this done?” I ask.
“Oh, we tell our patients about this and we tell our patients about that. Then we tell them about the features and benefits of this and that...blah, blah, blah...” Tell, tell, tell.
Did your patients ask you to tell them about these things? Did you get their permission? Ninety percent of the time the answer is no. You just assume they did. You made that assumption because you’ve identified their visual challenges and, because of your assumption, you now assume that, they want to hear all about the products that will save the day. So you educate them. You tell them about these incredible products. And yet, you’re doing this at exactly the wrong time. The irony here is that you realize this while you’re half way through your presentation and still you snowball out of control. You can’t stop yourself. Please do yourself a favor and shut up!! Please?
So, when is the right time to educate your patients? Only when you get their permission. How do you do this? Ask for it!! It’s really that simple! Ask them a question, then shut up and listen to the answer. Ask them another question and don’t talk, just listen. The person asking questions is in control of the sales process. Asking questions of someone is extremely more effective than talking at them. Think of it this way: asking questions turns on someone’s listening. Talking at them, makes them deaf! So again, please shut up!
Keep on asking questions until you gather all the information you need. In this way, the patient becomes acutely aware of what their situation is because you’re involving them in a discussion of their visual challenges. You’ve created a dialogue, not a monologue. Once you’ve gathered all the information you need, then ask them the following question (or some semblance, thereof): Would you like me to help you with that?
The moment they say yes, they’ve just given you their permission to educate them. They are now ready to listen because they are now eager to learn about the solutions only you can provide them. They weren’t ready before. No one, including you, likes to be talked at. Think about it. When someone is talking at you, aren’t you telepathically begging them to shut up?
So, engage your patients in conversation by asking as many questions as you can. Listen intently for their responses. Stop educating your patients at the wrong time. Stop talking at them. Stop making them deaf and just shut up!
Robert Bell believes in thinking differently. He believes in challenging the status quo. He believes, in many cases, in doing the exact opposite. He is The EyeCoach and the creator of The EyeCoach Selling System. Along with Nikki DiBacco and Daniel Feldman, he is a founding member of The Visionaries Group. Learn more at www.visionariesgroup.com or www.eyecoach.org.