Identifying Needs and Providing Solutions

 In Practice Building

A Naturopathic Answer to Sales

One thing that most Naturopathic Doctors tell us is that they don’t want to be ‘pushy’ or ‘salesy’. Certainly, the image that salespeople have in the community at large is not that favorable, and I completely see why every professional, not just NDs, would want to steer clear of those murky waters.

However, it is also a fundamental truth that “nothing happens until a sale is made” and those practitioners with a natural gift for ‘sales’ tend to grow and develop stronger practices, because you cannot really help people if they do not take your recommendations. Furthermore, if you don’t help people then you cannot grow your practice through word of mouth, every practitioner’s sustainable practice engine.

Now, although many NDs end up running their own practices, none of them really look for help in becoming more effective sales people. At a push, they may look for guidance in putting together a business plan, but ‘learning’ to be more effective salespeople is either seen as being beneath them or demeaning to the profession. This is an absolute fallacy, and in fact if the naturopathic profession wants to fill the void in primary care, a lot of sales are going to need to be made at every level across the country, so let’s get cracking!

So, for this month’s column we wanted to focus on tips for helping NDs be more effective sales people, and the good news is that you will never have to mimic the ugly tactics of car dealers and encyclopedia pushers! In fact, the great news is that the most effective sales people, in the long term, are those that share a lot of traits with the finest doctors and professionals: integrity, true empathy and service.

The first thing to understand is that sales is a transference of feelings. If you can make your patient feel empowered and excited about your potential solutions, then they will leave with all of your recommendations today. In order to meet your patient’s needs effectively you need to help them answer these six questions, in this order.

1. Who is this person and can they help me?
2. Is my mind revitalized about my present needs and potential solutions?
3. What is the proposed solution?
4. How will I benefit?
5. Can they prove what they are saying?
6. What is the investment?

Each one of these questions is important, but so is the order that they are answered. If they ask you in the first five minutes how much this is going to cost and you answer them, then that is all they will be thinking about throughout the rest of the appointment. A good answer to that question would be ‘It really depends, so what I would like to do is to find out a little more about your condition and before we proceed with treatment I will be very clear about potential costs… does that sound fair?’ This kind of answer will keep the ‘flow’ moving and make it easy for you to keep them engaged in the process.

So, in order to help them answer those 6 questions most effectively, this is the most effective way to structure an appointment.

1. Credibility

a. On the first appointment make sure to develop credibility with your patients. This is traditionally done by putting your certificates on the wall, but think about taking time to develop credibility through testimonials on your website, Google place page or Facebook page.

b. In subsequent appointments take time to remind patients where they have been and where they are now to give them perspective about their progress. Patients tend to forget about improvements!

2. Need Analysis

a. This is exactly what you are trained in, so this should be easy. Ask questions, listen and do your assessment. Be absolutely sure to ask them about their health goals, because this is how you can hold them accountable down the road.

b. One key skill is to learn how to ask open ended questions, questions that patients cannot answer with yes or no. How… What… Why….

3. Features and Benefits

a. This is when you show them that the solutions that you are offering will meet their needs, as identified above. Tying in your solutions to their goals will be crucial for full patient compliance, which is your strongest ally in your patient’s progress.

b. Advanced techniques would be to use tie down questions in this section. e.g. “This product is going to help reduce the pain and stiffness in your joints that will allow you be able to play with your grandchildren, which is exactly what you are looking for isn’t it?” This reminds them of their goals and how your solution meets that need.

4. Next Steps

a. This is where you set the next steps, which will be product recommendations and next appointments. Guide your patients by asking alternative choice questions. e.g. “What I would like to do is to see you again in a month, are Wednesdays always best for you, or would another day work better?” This type of question makes it easy for people to be guided towards the best next steps.

b. You can also use this for product recommendations. “I would recommend these four products, would you like two weeks supply or the full month?” Would you like to use Visa, Mastercard or American Express?”
By following this basic template, you should be able to guide a much higher percentage of your patients to full health. If you are interested in further training in this area, one professional natural remedy company called Energetix ( has a series of patient compliance trainings hosted by Chuck Reddick that are excellent. Not only to they provide training on patient compliance, but they also interview quality, experienced practitioners about the art of inspiring patient compliance. Good luck!

Holistic Practice Development helps practitioners to grow healthy, sustainable practices, regardless of demographic or economic environment. Dr. Andrew Colyer and James Maskell have a combined 30 years of experience in the health care industry, and would love to help you grow your practice. For your free practice strategy session, please visit:

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