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9 Ways to Respond When Your Patient Is Money Conscious

When patients struggle to pay for a care plan, many clinics make the mistake of just signing off the potential patient. Clinics that are willing to make small concessions & give patients options often outperform clinics looking for “qualified” patients. A discount can help accelerate a slow-moving care plan, create goodwill, and give you leverage for requesting concessions from the patient.

But you’ll only reap these benefits by discounting strategically — not whenever your patient asks for one.

Promising your patient a discount before the actual appointment can have three negative consequences:

  1. The patient subconsciously attributes less value to you and your product. After all, if results are what you claim, why are you so willing to sell it for less?
  2. The focus shifts from value to price. Instead of talking and thinking about your care’s potential impact on their lives, the patient is thinking about how much it costs.
  3. You lose some of your bargaining power. Successful negotiations require give-and-take.

If you offer a discount in the beginning stages of the sales process (which we all must realize is what we are doing once we are putting together a care plan), you’ll miss the opportunity to ask for something in return because you don’t yet know what your patient wants. That sets a dangerous precedent of one-way concessions.

When the time comes to put together the actual plan, the patient will be accustomed to getting what they ask for without giving anything up.

Of course, responding to discount inquiries during the actual appointment is challenging too. You must satisfy your patient’s expectations without destroying your profit margin.

If you’re struggling to find the right words, use these replies throughout the appointment, this includes from the front desk staff all the way to the exam room. And if your patient says, “It costs too much,” we’ve got a few answers for you here.

During The Call With The Front Desk

You’re asking the right person. But before we discuss discounting & costs, let’s figure out what you’re looking for and see if we can help you achieve those goals. That will allow me to give you a far more accurate estimate of the costs & payment options available.

If the price of your care plan largely depends on the individual patient’s needs, goals, and situation, it’s too early to discuss discounts. Without knowing the final value of the plan, you can’t determine a rate that will both satisfy them and keep you in business. You may want to consider a response such as:

I appreciate your question. Before we talk about pricing & payment options, I’d love to find out a little more about the pain points and priorities you have — to ensure I can make the best recommendation on how we can help.

We should be able to get you into our clinic within the next two days. Would you like to book a time that’s convenient for you?

Brushing off the patient’s question will make you seem more interested in your agenda than their own. Instead, acknowledge them and explain why it’s mutually beneficial to table this discussion until later.

2. “Good question. Do you see price being a major obstacle to receiving care?

There are some objections that can’t be overcome. If your patient’s request comes right after they’ve asked for pricing information or your prices are available online, it’s possible they don’t have the budget to purchase your care plan at full price. They’re trying to learn whether you’ll consider a discount. Say no, and they’ll likely walk away, and then you lose out on any potential revenue.

Alternatively, they might be capable of paying the normal rate — but interested in getting a discount if they can.

This question helps you figure out the patient’s motivations. If they respond that price won’t be an issue, use response number one. If they say it is, delve deeper into their financial situation. You might need to disqualify them if your product is too far out of their reach.

Before The Exam

3. “We can definitely have a conversation about specific numbers, but let’s make sure we’re on the same page about this solution being a good fit for your needs.

At this stage of the conversation, a discount request usually indicates the patient’s desire to buy. Since they agreed to an exam, they’re clearly interested in your clinic’s solutions — now they’re thinking about the details of the purchase.

However, don’t promise them a discount just yet. Automatically granting their request will make you seem overly eager to close, which will work against you during the actual negotiation. It may also lead your patient to wonder if they’ve misjudged your clinic’s value.

Use this response to delay the conversation. You’re not saying a discount is off the table — but you’re reminding the patient it’s not relevant until you’re both certain there’s mutual fit.

After / During The Exam

4. “Why?”

Speaker and writer Jurgen Appelo recommends using this simple and effective response when you’re negotiating with patients who are haggling for the sake of it.

“My problem with this attitude is that such (patients) assume that I am intentionally overpaid and that, with some negotiation, it should be possible to talk the fee down to the ‘proper’ price,” he explains.

In Appelo’s experience, patients will often say they were “just wondering” and will go on to pay the entire price. Here is an example of how your front desk staff can respond when someone pushes hard on pricing.

I appreciate you asking about discounted pricing. Can I ask why you’re seeking a discount? I’d love to learn a little more about your budget and understand if I can explain the value of our solution further.

“Notice that I don’t say ‘no’ to people who ask me for a discount,” he adds. “It’s quite possible that they have a very good reason! It all comes down to customizing the value exchange.”

For example, the patient might be dealing with a seasonal budget or experiencing a short-term cash deficit. Consider discounting in these cases — but make sure you ask for something in return.

5. “I can offer you a discount if we [extend the contract, adjust the terms of payment, go with X package or tier, register Y seats].

Compromise is essential to most negotiations. By offering a quid pro quo discount, both you and the patient will come out ahead.

It’s a good idea to walk into the discussion with several non-monetary requests, which will help you open the negotiating possibilities beyond price.

6. “What would be a reasonable discount?

MTD Sales Training managing director Sean McPheat suggests using the patient’s response to turn the question around.

Say you are offering a Stem Cell care plan worth $10,000 and the patient says she’d like a 15% discount, ask, “Are you saying you think $10,000 is too expensive or you don’t want to spend more than $8,500?”

This reveals whether they’re not sold on the true value of your plan or simply can’t afford it. If it’s the latter, offer them a reduced or less comprehensive option.

You might say, “Previously, you chose [more expensive option] because [it would help you accomplish X in less time, provide maximum cost-benefit, ensure you had complete recovery, etc.] But we do offer [less expensive option] for $7,600 if you don’t want to spend more.”

According to McPheat, this offer lets you maintain your margins while maintaining value.

If your patient says they want the more expensive product at the lower price, on the other hand, return to the value conversation.

Once the patient remembers your solution will provide them relief & save them money in the long run, they’ll probably back off or soften their request.

7. “What would need to happen to make our offering worth the price I quoted you?

When a patient pushes back on price, it’s possible they don’t have the budget for your product/service. It’s also possible you simply haven’t done a good enough job of selling it.

By asking “What would need to happen to make our offering more valuable to you?” You can uncover gaps in the case you’ve made and identify objections that might still exist.

It allows you to add or argue value for your offering and — if you meet the needs outlined by your patient — to earn full price.

8. “Would a month-to-month plan be enough to get you to close today?

You may not be able to offer this. But month-to-month plans can be a great way to get patients to close without discounting your product/service. Month-to-month plans are usually easier for patients to get approved than large care packages at once. You can even look into offering solutions such as Care Credit or Syncrony Bank if you do not have the ability in house to offer extended payment plans.

If you believe this patient is a great fit for your solution, a month-to-month contract shouldn’t scare you. Instead, you get the chance to prove your value to your prospect-turned-patient and earn the full amount of the care plan — or the cross-sell or upsell — in the future.

9. “What if we connect in the next couple of months? Do you think you’d have more budget open up then?

Sometimes your solution is just not in the cards for a patient’s budget. Hopefully, you’ve discovered this early in the patient’s journey, before you’ve devoted too much time to trying to close them now.

Make sure you’ve exhausted all opportunities to work with a patient who’s really enthusiastic about your offer. But, if the budget just isn’t there, you can gently ask this question to lead both parties into the best option at the moment.

With these responses up your sleeve, you won’t dread hearing the word “discount” from your patients.

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