Article Date: 1/1/2011

Plan to Fail … in Order to Succeed
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Plan to Fail … in Order to Succeed

Each patient rejection brings you one step closer to success.

Gary Gerber, OD

Your practice just took delivery of a technology that can diagnose and permanently cure myopia by the use of a special customized eye drop that is produced after analyzing your patient's tear chemistry and measuring their axial length and corneal curvature. The cost to the patient is $25,000, and it's not covered by insurance. With sweaty palms and a pounding heart, you prepare to discuss this breakthrough with your first patient.

This technology doesn't exist (at least not yet). Still, many of us panic when confronted with discussing new, high-ticket procedures or products with patients. Use the following strategy to overcome that angst and anticipated fear of rejection.

Permission to fail

Before speaking to patients, anticipate that most will reject what you have to say. So, if you present the item to 100 patients, perhaps only two would say they're interested. With that in mind, each rejection brings you one patient presentation closer to success.

This flip-flop of mindset allows you to fail without totally giving up your mission, as each “failure” brings you closer to eventual success. In fact, if each failed attempt counts as a point in the game, the sooner you rack up 98 points in our example, the sooner you'll find a patient who says “yes.”

O.D.s are historically reticent to have discussions like those above, and using this approach gives them “permission” to fail without the cumulative continued negative reinforcement that usually leads them to eventually giving up entirely.

This flip-flop mindset allows you to polish and refine your presentation. Many O.D.s shy away from discussions like this until a patient finally asks. And in this example, if you're only asked twice out of 100 times, your presentation will likely be fraught with hesitations, lack of confidence and possibly even poor or inaccurate clinical information.

Instead, if you continually modify your presentation to include the most important points, your chances of receiving “yeses” ultimately increases.

Your staff's role

Begin by role playing with your staff. Use anything that patients will perceive as new and perhaps expensive that you believe is clinically appropriate and beneficial for them. As you speak to your staff, expect them to say “no.” If they do, ask them why. From there, lather, rinse and repeat. So, if your first attempt yields a staff comment of, “It sounded great. In fact, it sounded too good to be true so I didn't believe it was possible — at any price,” tone down things for your next presentation.

With continued practice and critiquing, you'll come up with something that feels right, is accurate and allows you to fail with confidence. This is a strange concept for sure, but if you're like many doctors, you'll see your success “batting average” increase with time.

Analyze your successes

The final step is to analyze your genuine successes. After a patient agrees to your proposal, ask, “what was it specifically that made you say yes?” This is a critical analytical step, as things that excite practitioners (for example, maintaining corneal health) might not be as exciting to a patient (not having to wear glasses or contact lenses). Include this new information in your next presentation.

By following the advice presented above, your hit rate is bound to increase. OM


Optometric Management, Issue: January 2011