How do you 'sell' preventive medicine?

How do you 'sell' preventive medicine?

Apr 01, 2002

It is a philosophical question that practitioners need to ask themselves, especially when discussing preventive medicine programs with clients.

Dr. Paul Hobson, a practitioner from London, England presented a talk on selling preventive medicine programs at the Western Veterinary Conference (WVC) in Feburary. He says most pet owners don't have enough knowledge to diagnose a pet illness or know how to prevent disease, and that is exactly why they are seeking veterinary services.

Hobson adds that selling and marketing have very bad connotations in veterinary medicine, but they shouldn't. Discussing preventive medicine does not have to be a hard sell to clients.

"If your practice sends out reminders or sells flea control products; that's marketing," he explains.

"I feel very strongly that you are doing a client a disservice if you don't make them aware of the services the hospital offers," Hobson says.

The person on the hospital team who sells preventive medicine should be the technician.

"Veterinarians in general do not have the time. They are typically not interested in it, while nurses are very good at it and very thorough."

Hobson recommends that practice owners give technicians sufficient time to address preventive medicine topics like vaccinations, flea control, diet, exercise and behavior with clients. He recommends devoting even more time with clients during puppy or kitten visits.

"That is exactly when the converts take place."

Technicians should also be trained in communication techniques. Hobson adds that when a technician believes in a procedure like home dental care and can tangibly see the benefits to the patient, he or she will talk openly about the importance to clients.

Remember the Pareto Principle, especially with preventive programs, Hobson says. This well-known marketing principle states that 20 percent of a business' clientele pay 80 percent of its revenue. Hobson says practitioners need to identify their "Pareto" clients, and they are a natural to discuss preventive medicine topics.

Personal touch

He adds that telephone calls rather than sending out reminders is an excellent touch. A receptionist could call during the day to remind clients on prescription refills or physical examinations, Hobson adds.

So what does "sales" have to do with it? Not much, Hobson adds, because when you believe in a program or concept and you can see the long-term health benefits, it's easy to recommend