*It is strongly suggested that you read last month’s column before you read this one.

Let’s use a pendulum to best illustrate the first two rules of the Law of Motion:
  1. An object in motion tends to stay in motion in the same direction and with the same velocity unless met with an unbalanced force.
  2. An object at rest tends to stay at rest unless met with an unbalanced force.
A pendulum will swing back and forth from negative to positive and back again (an object in motion tends to stay in motion). The pendulum in the neutral position has no motion whatsoever (an object at rest tends to stay at rest). 

Your patients walk into your office in one of these categories that we’ve charted on the pendulum. Some patients walk into your office very positive: “Hi, I couldn’t wait to come in. My friend just got the coolest pair of glasses here and I heard about these new kind of lenses that would be just perfect for me.” Don’t you just love your positive patients? Yet, they make up a very small percentage of the patients walking through your door.

The other small percentage of patients walking through your door are the negative patients. I won’t give you an example of what they sound like or might say because... well, let’s keep it clean here.

But, the majority of your patients walking through the door are neutral. Typically, they might sound something like this: “Oh, that sounds good but let me think about it” or “It’s a little out of my price range” or “I don’t think I really need this now.” Your average patient is not angry nor are they happy, they’re just
content.  They’re smack-dab in the middle and are vigilant about staying right where they are. They know what they know and will not allow you to persuade them otherwise (in previous columns I’ve told you selling has nothing to do with persuasion).  Why do they like the middle so much? Think about when you are a consumer and why you like the middle—we’re all wary of being “sold.”

The biggest percentage of your patients are just sitting on the fence. Not moving. And, they have absolutely no motivation to move.
Of the three types of patients, positive, neutral or negative, which type is easiest to sell? Yes, of course, the positive patient. They’re excited about being there and their listening is turned on. They want and seek your help.

Of the two remaining types, negative or neutral, who is easiest to sell? 

Before you answer, remember the Law of Motion. Most people will tell me the neutral or average patient is easiest to sell. But the neutral/average patient is not moving at all. The negative patient, however, is in motion, has only one direction to go (positive) and will get there with uniform velocity. 

So, between the negative patient and the neutral/average patient, the negative patient, ironically, is easiest to sell. Ironically, they’ll offer less resistance.

Take a moment to think about your patients. Though your average patient is nicer than the negative patient, they will give you the most resistance. They’ll do it in the nicest way so as not to offend you, but your sales are suffering because your nice average patients have subtly taken control of the selling process in your practice. 

Let me leave you this question to ponder until next month. This is the most important question I will ever ask you. In order to sell your average patient (and remember, selling is just helping your patient acquire what they need), in which direction should you move them? Positively or negatively?

See you next month.

Robert C. Bell is president (and head coach) of EyeCoach, an organization designed to teach and coach innovative and industry-specific sales techniques to eyecare professionals. Contact him at rbell@eyecoach.org.