PTs are afraid of sounding too “salesy” when educating prospects and presenting a plan of care. But there’s a big difference between being salesy and being the expert. A salesperson is concerned with making sales, but an expert provides all the information the patient needs to make their own decisions.
You didn’t get into physical therapy to become a salesman, that much is true. But at the same time, there has to be some form of money exchange to keep your doors open, so sales is just a natural part of doing business.
If you’re convinced that you sound more like a used car salesman than a professional PT, there’s an underlying reason that’s preventing you from being the expert.
When most PTs think of being salesy, what they mean is: “I don’t like to pressure people into doing things they don’t want to do.”
What this comes down to is how we personally perceive sales. Maybe you’ve been pressured by a salesperson in the past, or maybe you’ve felt resistance from a past patient that led to a bad experience. Or perhaps one of your patients has had some sort of objection, and when trying to overcome it, you lost sight of the value aspect and focused more on getting a “Yes” from the patient.
As a PT, your goal is to help as many patients as possible. You’re not trying to sell them a service—you’re trying to help them get out of pain or solve another problem. You’re not selling products—you’re helping them visualize the results of what you offer. And if you don’t think you’ll be able to help them, you certainly don’t want them to go through with a program they don’t need.
If you do your homework upfront, from building value in your PT marketing to understanding the patient’s problem and approaching it the right way the first time, you won’t have to push the patient. They’ll already see what you can do for them and will have all the information they need to make an informed decision—no hard selling required.
There’s a lot that needs to happen leading up to presenting your patient with a plan of care. If you’ve done a good job of marketing yourself, helping people get familiar with your practice, and individualizing the experience, you should be able to present the plan of care as an offering; not a sales pitch.
The trust and credibility you need are already there, and patients can make an informed decision without feeling like you’re pushing them into it.
However, there are a few common stumbling blocks that can derail this entire theory, and tripping over any of them can make you seem pushy:
There’s a strong relationship between marketing and sales, but many PT owners neglect the marketing aspect and focus solely on the sales part (no wonder you think you sound salesy!).
One way to think about marketing is positioning. PT is positioned in the healthcare industry as a natural, non-invasive, less expensive treatment option. There’s no medication, injection, or surgery, and PT has very few side effects. You need to build celebrity status in your local market to boost your image of expertise.
This doesn’t happen by itself. Neglecting how you position yourself means you have to be more salesy to get your point across when facing patients. If your marketing isn’t building trust and credibility with your prospects, these elements will be lacking when you go to present a plan of care, and without those elements, it’s hard not to sound salesy.
Most healthcare providers associate sales with knowing the right things to say to people. A better way to think of sales is simply asking the right questions and focusing on the patient. Sales speak often develops when we’re focused on ourselves rather than the patient’s needs, and this does nothing to build their confidence in how we can help them.
Good marketing takes a lot of pressure off the sales aspect. Marketing comes first in any sales cycle, and if you’ve done a thorough job in positioning your practice, your image, and your services, then sales becomes a lot less stressful.
When you walk into an PT examining room, do your prospects already know you? If not, you probably have to do a lot more work in the sales process. No PT wants to do more selling than they have to, which is why we put a heavy emphasis on content.
Videos, workshops, free reports, blog posts, and other content can help you build authority and celebrity status in your area. People get to know you through your content, and when the content is helpful, well-presented, and well-researched, they’ll also start to trust you.
We touched on this earlier, but our own experiences with sales can often lead us to make bad decisions in our own sales process. Maybe you felt pressured into buying something and later felt duped. You didn’t have enough information to make a good buying decision and regretted it later.
This is because the product or service was bad or didn’t live up to expectations.
As a PT, you aren’t doing the same thing because you are offering something of value. There’s no comparison to your previous experiences, so you should step out of your own shoes and approach sales from a patient’s perspective.
The conversation only starts because the patient needs your help. They’re in pain or have some sort of pain point that has pushed them to seek your help. If they’re in your office, they already think you’re the authority who can help them.
Eliminating those common pitfalls is more work, but it results in more patients—specifically more patients who value what you do and will complete their plan of care. Plus, it reduces the amount of “selling” you need to do to get a “Yes” decision.