5 Non-Salesy Strategies for Increasing Sales in Your Weight Loss Practice
— By Karol Clark, MSN, RN
The delicate balance between providing excellent patient care while ensuring the financial sustainability of your weight loss practice creates a dual challenge for many practitioners and their teams.
No one likes to be “sold,” particularly when it comes to health care. However, with the many weight loss services, programs, and nutrition products available, marketing and sales for the 2/3 of Americans that are overweight or living with obesity has become very competitive and often overwhelming. This has led to a higher degree of consumer/patient distrust and frustration.
As a result, by the time patients reach you, they are often wary and feel as if they may be “sold” one more thing that either doesn’t work or provides temporary results. In addition to the high degree of competition, this creates another challenge for you and your team to overcome — the need for you to avoid traditional sales tactics and replace them with compassion, honesty, and trust, while clarifying specific instructions for how to take the next step with you and your weight loss team.
Most weight loss practitioners and their teams are not natural sales people; on the contrary, nearly everything about “sales” makes them uncomfortable. Yet, there are several non-salesy strategies you and your team can employ to increase revenue from your services and products without compromising patient trust and satisfaction. Below are five specific strategies:
1. Embrace Permission Marketing
Permission marketing is a concept that was popularized by Seth Godin in his book, Permission Marketing: Turning Strangers into Friends and Friends into Customers.1 It is a marketing approach that emphasizes obtaining consent from consumers or your potential patients before delivering promotional messages or content to them. While it does require strategic effort to ensure you have the correct message going to your ideal audience over the right communication channel, it is a great way to gain trust and actually shorten the sales process. You are delivering personal and relevant messages to people who actually want to get them. For health care practitioners, this is a much more natural way of attracting potential patients and turning them into established patients.
Some principles of permission marketing and selling include:
Opt-In Communication: Your prospective patients willingly opt-in or give their permission to receiving information from you. This may include signing up for your newsletters, text messages, and following your practice on your various social media channels.
Relevant Messaging: Permission marketing emphasizes the need to delivery relevant and personalized content to your subscribers based on their preferences and interests. This approach provides them value, rather than generic messages.
Education: Rather than bombarding current and prospective patients with sales messages, permission marketing involves educating them about your services, weight loss nutritional products, weight loss trends, weight loss myths, and questions they commonly ask you and your team.
Relationship Building: Permission marketing focuses on building a long-term relationship with your current and prospective patients. This reiterates the premise that by obtaining permission and delivering valuable content, you turn strangers into patients and patients into loyal customers.
Multi-Channel Approach: The joy of permission marketing is that you can take one piece of valuable content or messaging and leverage it across many channels such as all of your social media accounts, within your office, and via your e-newsletter.
2. Know Your Audience
When you take the time to listen to the people seeking your services and products, rather than going into “sales mode” and sharing all of the details about what you offer, you are much better equipped to understand their needs and barriers to success. This enables you to build a trusting relationship. Be sure to listen carefully, and ask pertinent questions. This will help you get to know more about your audience and how you can best assist them meet or exceed their goals.
Something you and your team are especially skilled in doing is prescribing what will be most helpful for your patients. Maximize this differentiating factor and combine it with a customized treatment plan or specific recommendation for which medical or surgical weight loss plan you offer is best for their particular situation. This customization is typically well received, especially when combined with success stories and social proof of the many others that have experienced success under your care.
4. Provide Clear Direction & Make the Sales Process Easy
While permission marketing is terrific — particularly in health care — you still need to tell your prospective patients what the next step is with every communication and simplify the process. Make sure they know how to get started, how to purchase a product, what their path to success will look like, and what to expect every step of the way. Make sure your team is not “sales averse” — meaning that they talk about your services but never invite people to actually purchase your services, programs or products. Include a clear call to action (CTA) in the office as well as on your communication to your patients. You can also streamline the sales process by allowing for online inquiries, scheduling, and nutritional product sales. It also helps to ask for feedback from your patients and invite them to easily share their success stories as a testimonial or five-star review.
5. Flip the “Sales” Narrative
Flipping the sales narrative tends to come more naturally to health care professionals — especially with great training and positive sales behavior modeling. Here are a few ways to flip the sales narrative:
- Instead of leading with features and specifications of your services, programs, and nutritional products, make the message customer-centric focusing on their benefits and how they can help them overcome barriers to success to attain the outcome they desire.
- Prioritize building long-term relationships over making quick sales. This shift can lead to customer loyalty and referrals.
- Ask questions instead of assuming which of your solutions is best. This not only demonstrates your interest, but allows you to customize their prescribed treatment.
Bottom line, building trust and relationships will lead to more sustainable and long-term sales success in your weight loss practice. This process begins with all of your marketing messages so you attract the right patients, and follows through a nurturing period (if necessary) until they become an established patient. Remember, ambiguity tends to create consumer confusion resulting in a lack of action. So, with every form of communication, be sure to provide a clear path to your door, including specific direction of what to do next.
1 Godin, Seth. (1999) Permission Marketing: Turning Strangers into Friends and Friends into Customers. New York: Simon & Schuster