12 Care Plans Closing Mistakes to Stop Making Right Now
Closing only once
You should consistently “close” throughout the consultation for three reasons: First, you’ll gradually secure greater and greater buy in from your patient; second, you’ll filter out tire kickers; and third, you’ll get key information.
For example, on your first call you might ask for the patient’s cell phone number. Being able to call or text them directly will make them much easier to contact.
Not asking for what you want
Clearly stating your ask might be common sense, but it’s hardly common practice.
There are two reasons front desk staff don’t simply state what they want from a patient. It’s possible they’re afraid of rejection, so they soften their language to minimize the chances of hearing “no.” On the other hand, it’s possible they don’t know what they want! Too often, front desk staff go into a call or meeting with no real concept of what they’re hoping to get out of it. And if you don’t know what you want, how can you get it from the patient?
Enter every interaction with a clear objective in mind, and don’t beat around the bush when asking for it.
For example, “I’m calling to see if you have questions about your migraine consultation” doesn’t make it clear what you want the patient to do. “Will you come today in for your migraine consultation?” does.
Using statements instead of questions
Closes should always be phrased as questions, not statements. Why? Because questions require direct answers, and statements do not.
If a front desk says to a patient, “It would be great to meet on Monday afternoon,” that patient can respond in a multitude of ways. But if the front desk staff says, “Can you meet on Monday afternoon?” the patient has only two possible answers at their disposal — “Yes, I can,” or “No, I cant.”
Sentences that start with “I’d like to” or “Maybe we can” aren’t closes. Questions that start with “Are you,” “Can you,” or “Will you” are.
Not creating a sense of urgency
Signing up for care are driven by two things: Need and timing. If a need is great but other priorities are more important, your deal will get pushed. If a need is great but the patient doesn’t understand why they need to address it right now, your deal will also get pushed.
Identifying pain isn’t enough to close a deal. You have to create the right timing as well, and that means creating a sense of urgency. Explaining to your patient not only why they should act but why they should also act now is the only way to close a deal.
Silence can be uncomfortable, but it’s golden when closing. Unfortunately, front desk staff often rush to comment on their patients’ responses immediately after they’ve been uttered.
Here’s what this sounds like:
Front desk staff: “Can you meet this afternoon?”
Patient: “No, I’m busy.”
Front desk staff: “Not a problem — how’s tomorrow?”
However, if the front desk staff simply falls silent after the patient responds, the patient often answers the front desk staff’s follow up question before it’s even spoken.
Here’s the above example, revised to use this approach:
Front desk staff: “Can you meet this afternoon?”
Patient: “No, I’m busy.”
Patient: “ … But I can meet next Tuesday.”
Don’t get in your own way by jumping to fill the silence.
Using underhanded closing tricks
You should have run a straightforward and honest consultation up to this point, so why stop now?
Too many staff fall back on tricks and techniques designed to persuade their patient into closing before they’re necessarily ready to. The problem with those tricks is that they’re completely transparent, put unnecessary pressure on patients, and don’t work that well.
Keep your behavior above board throughout the consultation, unless you want to leave your patient with a bad taste in their mouth at the eleventh hour.
Closing too early
Just as you wouldn’t pitch your practice (I hope) on the first call, you shouldn’t go for a final close when you’re only halfway through discovery. The care plans cycle can and should be sped up if it’s possible to do so without cutting corners, but often you’ll need to follow each step and work on the patient’s timeline to get a deal signed. Trying to force a care plan over the finish line when you’ve only completed a few of these steps will prematurely end a deal you could have eventually won.
Not understanding their bottom line
Making a care plan isn’t the end-all, be-all. The deal has to be mutually beneficial to both parties, and that means not compromising on price or payment terms to a point where you’re harming your company. Be accommodating where you can and help your patient out if they’re genuinely willing to commit to a purchase, but don’t agree to terms that are so far from your company’s bottom line that you’d be better off walking away.
Stepping on the close
On that note, don’t step on the close. Staff steps on their close when they immediately tack the word “or” or “and” to the end of their closing question. Instead of asking the patient “Would you be able to meet tomorrow?” and letting the question hang, staff often hastily tack on an additional phrase, such as “Or are you available next week?”
Keep in mind that words such as “and” and “or” add choices to a conversation, when closing is about eliminating choices and pushing the patient toward a simple “yes” or “no” answer. By adding an additional clause, you increase the possibility you’ll get a muddled or half response.
Talking too much
At the negotiation table, silence is your best friend. Staff routinely talk themselves out of a deal: Their patient is fully bought-in and ready to discuss specific terms, but the front desk staff gets so excited that they keep going … and going … and going … They accidentally introduce doubt into the patient’s mind. Poof. That’s the sound of money disappearing.
If you tend to be a chatty closer, remember this: No one ever listened their way out of a deal. Every time you finish introducing a new term, responding to a question, offering a concession, or most importantly, stating your price, you should shut up. And when your patient says, “Sounds great, I think we’re ready to move forward,” wrap up the conversation and end the meeting.
Persisting when the patient says no
If your patient turns you down, the worst response is arguing with them. That sends a clear signal: You aren’t confident enough to accept their “no.” They’ll lose faith in you — not to mention your rapport will suffer.
So, what should you do? Just say “okay.” If another alternative makes sense, you can offer that one.
Showing you can calmly get a “no” without becoming irritated, pushy, or insecure will raise your status in the patient’s eyes and increase the odds next time you’ll get a “yes.”
Trying to make closing easy for the patient
Front desk staff often ascribe to the thinking that closing needs to be easy for the patient, but that’s wrong. By definition, closing requires the staff to put the patient in a mild state of discomfort.
If patients don’t feel a slight amount of pressure, they’re not going to make a choice. And “no decisions” are always worse than closed-won or even closed-lost. Don’t be afraid to turn up the heat a few notches to get an answer.
Closing is tough, but by avoiding these missteps and sticking to a confident, concise, and “always-be-closing” mindset will set you up for success.