There’s a big lesson we all can learn from American Idol as chiropractors and the good news is that you don’t have to be a fan (or even have watched the program) to benefit.  It applies directly to the bottom line of our business and the core strategies of getting patients to stay pay and refer.  Here it is:

Many chiropractors struggle with one element of what I call “conversion” which leads them to several very big problems. For me, conversion is a very simple process: creating patients that value you so that they stay, pay and refer. You’ve undoubtedly heard the last portion of that definition, but what successful chiropractors realize is that the first part of that definition (creating value) is what effectively brings about the latter portion (stay, pay and refer).

Why Fear Fails You (and Them)

In this respect, this is why cheesy sales scripts fail. Their object is to manipulate the patient and work them towards a point where they feel compelled to act.

When a patient makes their initial decision acting out fear, the only way to get them to stay, pay or refer others is to keep up the fear cycle. In other words, they don’t stay out of desire or results, they continue your care out of fear. They don’t pay because they value you, they pay out of fear of what you will do to them if they don’t. And if they refer (a big “if), they refer others by spreading the same fear.

Who wants that? What a miserable way to practice and treat people.

Creating Value

Unfortunately, fear is an effective motivator and far too many practice management groups teach it to their chiropractic clients who in turn unleash the fear on their patients.

But for those of us who would like to go a different direction, here’s the good news: you can have an abundance of patients who stay, pay and refer by creating value. No fear needed!

The KEY do creating this value is by actually turning everything upside down. Here’s what I mean:

When Patients Pursue YOU

The language of sales is full of pursuit and, despite the fact that most chiropractors admit that they do not want to be “sales-y” – they continue to use pursuit-based sales techniques.

They “capture” leads. They use a “killer” report of findings or “killer” advertisements designed to manipulate…literally…the patient through fear.

Instead, we need to turn that completely around and get the patient to pursue us.

The World Class Chiropractor

One way to do this is to ask two simple questions that immediately reverse the pursuit process and get patients to chase you.

Instead of feeling like you desperately need that chiropractic patient, you must adopt the mindset of being a world class chiropractor and conduct your conversation with two questions in mind. Here’s an example:

A patient comes to you referred to me by a couple of their friends. They sit in your exam room and say “Hi Doctor YourName, I’ve heard really good things about you from my friends Helen and Bob. And they both raved about how much you’ve helped them with their back pain and I’ve been thinking that chiropractic might be able to help me with my back issues.”

The Critical Turning Point

At this juncture in the conversation, this is where most chiropractors will begin their “audition” and work on convincing the patient that chiropractic is the right solution for them. In short, we begin to pursue the patient in an effort to “close the sale.”

Sure, we may perform an exam, take a history and give them a report of findings in the process, but our intent is to audition for the patient so they can see how great we are.

Which happens to be completely backward…

Instead, take this as the critical point to turn this opportunity into the patient’s pursuit of you. Here’s how:

You Are Simon Cowell

Instead of you being the one attempting to show off your skills, here you are Simon Cowell auditioning the patient. So the conversation may sound something like this…

“So [patient’s name], I’m glad that you came in, but can you answer two questions for me: why are you consulting me and why are you consulting me now?”  Then close your mouth and let the patient speak…after their initial shock has worn off.

Here’s what will happen over the next two minutes.

The “Why”

What happens next is that the patient explains exactly what is going on in their world right now, which makes their problem a “now” conversation. In other words, they tell you why they are seeking a chiropractor and why they want to do something about their problem.  And NOT why they are stopping in for free information or worse yet, shopping for the right chiropractor.

So, in asking these two simple questions, you are asking the patient to justify why they are looking for a chiropractor and secondly, why they are calling you and not some other DC.

Getting on the Same Path

If you think about it, these two questions immediately put you on the same path. You may not have noticed this – but you and the patient come to the exam with really different goals. You want a new patient and to make a “sale” – i.e. have them start care.

What do they want? If they are truly honest, they probably want free information about how their problem to just go away on its own. Who can blame them? No one really wants to have to spend money and time on a problem.

What These Two Questions Do For You( And the Patient)

These questions instantly squash the sales pursuit and instead of an audition where you convince them they have a problem and that you are the one to solve it, now it’s just a question of them agreeing that there’s an issue to be solved.

The fact that they tell you why now and why you – apart from being good for your ego – they’ve just said I’ve got an actual real problem that needs to be solved right now.

So this isn’t an information gathering conversation – it’s a problem solving conversation, which leads to a decision being made at the end.

In the end, they’re going to make a decision about themselves and their future – and if it involves you, they have done so without fear, without manipulation and out of realization that they have a problem that needs to be solved and that you are the guy/gal to solve it.

What Happens Afterward

And what flows naturally from that decision is the fact that they need to pay for the problem to be solved. And when others have similar problems, that they should refer them to you for help.

Even better, as you take care of the patient, you can now remind them of the “why” – in other words, why they chose to get the problem fixed. After all, even though insurance companies love information and objective findings, patients are looking for tangible results and a transformation in their lives.

That’s the why. And it requires no salesmanship. No guilt. No fear.

Three Unexpected Benefits of The Two Questions

In fact, when you approach things this way, you will get two VERY positive (and perhaps unexpected) benefits almost immediately.

  1. Patients will THANK you for taking their case and helping them solve their problem.
  1. Patients will ASK you if you can help their friends with their problems…because they are not afraid of your heavy handed sales technique, because they value your refreshingly unique approach and because they want to help their friends.
  1. If you look at things from a big picture, this is part of working SMARTER. After all – which is preferable and smart? Chasing patients down and learning psychological mind-bending scripts and tricks that help you wrestle the patient into buying what you have…Or having patients pursue you because they value how you can help them? The latter is much easier, much more efficient, more effective, more fun and, in my opinion, a much smarter