Ever wonder how some providers are able to naturally breeze through the consultation process with ease and make the client feel heard, understood and confident they are making the right choice and say YES to booking the service/procedure/surgery?
It’s no accident. There’s a method to their magic. They’ve mastered the communication method I’m going to share with you in this week’s blog.
Whether you own or manage a plastic surgery practice or medical spa or are an aesthetic medical provider, it’s the one, “four-letter word” you want to use in ALL of your consultations to increase the aesthetic life cycle of a patient and boost your conversion rate. It can even help improve communication in all of your personal and businesses relationships.
Mastering the LAER communication method can help you:
Focus on “How I can serve you vs. how I can sell to you.”
Listen, “bond,” and increase patient engagement
Build trust and rapport
Acknowledge and validate concerns
Explore and hone your critical questioning skills to gather information and gain buy-in
Recommend solutions, build a treatment plan, overcome objections and expertly move the patient forward
I teach this method in detail during my on-site sales training and in my online “Mastering the Art of Sales” course, available exclusively through my newly launched, comprehensive growth and training platform APX by Terri Ross.
Today, I’m going to provide you with an overview to get you started to convert more patients consultations.
Sound good? Well, then let’s get to it!
The LAER Communication Method
This is one of the first skills I learned in my first sales job with Johnson & Johnson right out of college. The acronym stands for: LISTEN, ACKNOWLEDGE, EXPLORE and RESPOND.
Most people only LISTEN to RESPOND. They jump straight to responding, but don’t take the time to ACKNOWLEDGE feelings and concerns and then EXPLORE and ask questions to truly understand what’s going on beneath the surface.
Think about it. Most miscommunication and false expectations occur because we are all so used to talking over each other. Statistics show that every 11 seconds somebody interrupts someone in a conversation because let’s face it, we all like to talk or give our advice.
You should spend 80% of your time in the consultation room listening, not talking. I know we are all in a hurry and sometimes consults are viewed as just a means to an end but the consult is more than a “transaction”. It’s easy to just focus on the end goal of booking an appointment versus taking the time to get to know the patient in the room, uncovering their needs, being empathetic to how they are feeling emotionally, addressing their concerns, and discovering what they’re willing to spend and their timeframe.
Remember, you only get ONE shot to make a first impression and what happens in that room is the foundation for building a long-term treatment plan. Trust me, I’ve worked with hundreds of practices and if you can perfect these skills, you will stand out and increase your revenue.
So, let’s break Rossn each step of the LAER Method:
L – Listen. Active listening is the first step in the “bonding” process and requires non-verbal encouragement, staying silent and avoiding interrupting or reacting prematurely. When the patient enters the room, you want to take a few minutes to show them you care about them as a person and use an engaged approach. Don’t just talk, ask questions to gather information. Here’s an example:
“Hi Susie. Thank you so much for coming in today, I’m Tammy, the nurse practitioner here, what you can expect over the next 30 minutes is for me to really get to know you, understand your needs and together develop a customized treatment plans that will help you achieve your goals.
I see you are here to discuss you post baby skin/fat on your stomach? Is that correct? Id love to learn more about you, how long has this been bothering you?
A – Acknowledge. Acknowledging continues to cement the bonding process and is so important. Repeating or reflecting back what the patient said lets them know that you heard them and understand their concerns as well as validates what they are saying. It builds the “Know, Like and Trust” factor immediately. Here’s an example:
“Thank you so much for sharing that with me, Tammy. I appreciate you being vulnerable and I can understand how you feel. (validation). I have a 7 year old and I felt the same - if you can use something to connect the feeling.
So, it sounds like you just had a baby, and you are having a hard time getting your pre-pregnancy body back even though you are eating healthy and working out. You’re not feeling as sexy as you used to feel. I’m sure that is really frustrating for you. I hear that from a lot of women. Trust me, you are not alone. Luckily, you came to the right place.”
Do you see how nice that sounds and will feel to the patient?
E – Explore. Exploring deepens the bonding process, assures patients that you understand them, helps you gather more information by using your critical questioning skills, and clarifies any additional concerns they may have. Here’s an example:
“So, Susie, would it be ok if we move on and I ask you a few other questions? When did you have your baby? How has this made you feel? (get to the emotions)
Hong have you been feeling this way?
Have you had any previous treatments or procedures? If yes, what and how did that work out for you?
If no, what would make you feel better about yourself?
You have to dig deep because now the patient feels like they are talking to a friend and it’s easier for you to gather so much extra information. If you had just jumped straight to telling them about Coolsculpting® without exploring how they are feeling, it comes off more like “selling” to them instead of helping them solve their problem.
Again, after you get answers to the questions, reflect back and continue to acknowledge what they said.
“So, what I heard you say, Tammy, is that you’ve been feeling this way for about a year now and nothing you have tried has really yielded the results that you want. That you are feeling insecure in a bathing suit and just want to feel more confident?
What I’d like to do now is really talk you through what I think are going to be the best options for you to help you get the results that you really want. Would that be ok?”
R – Respond. This is the final step in the bonding process. This is where you recommend the solutions, suggest corrective action, decide next steps for a longer-term treatment plan and schedule the appt.
This is where patient objections come into play—the most common being price, budget, time to think about it, Rossntime/schedule and pain/discomfort.
This is an area of opportunity to reflex back and acknowledge again that you listened to them and how your treatment plan can solve their issue. Here is an example of responding to a budget objection.
“Tammy, you said you can’t afford to spend that much. What price point did you have in mind?
Ok, so I heard you say that you have been feeling a lack of self-confidence and you are uncomfortable wearing a bikini on your upcoming vacation this summer. If this treatment plan could help boost your confidence, make you feel better about yourself and have your husband look at you the way he used to pre-baby, what would that be worth to you?
We have financing options (if you offer them) that can help you get started with just $150 a month. Is spending $150 a month worth getting the results you want?
Do you see how if you skipped the acknowledging and engaged approach to asking probing questions and went straight to the procedures/services you offer you would have missed out on the opportunity to get to the heart and the emotions the patient is experiencing?
That was the LAER model in a nutshell. Join me for my upcoming webinar that will go into much more detail on the LAER Method of Communication by registering here. In my online sales training course that is just one component of APX by Terri Ross, I have a whole module on the expert consultation and phone skills where you’ll learn how to hone your questioning skills, handle objections, expertly close, and the art of following up, as well as provide you with talk tracks and a comprehensive list of open-ended questions. To learn more about APX by Terri Ross, click here.