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Business leaders and salespeople alike know that eliminating pain is the best motivator to getting deals done and sustaining relationships. Pain, or the fear of pain, inflicts psychological and physical burdens in life and in business, and as humans we try to avoid or eliminate it at nearly any cost. With that in mind, it’s always good to ask yourself what sort of pain you might be unintentionally inflicting (or better yet, working to eliminate) from the lives of your referring sources, patients, payor partners, and even your employees.

At Brightree we invest in sales training, and several of our team members are knowledgeable in the Sandler Selling System®. Sandler identifies three levels of pain your sales team must uncover to move a prospect over to the customer column.

Level 1 pain: Getting technical

Find out what technical issues the customer wants to solve. In the HME/DME world, this could be as simple as having a strong e-prescribe or e-referral process for your prescribing partners. The traditional process starts with a fax that has to be retrieved and interpreted, and then matched with documentation and an active prescription, among other things. If we don’t have all that information, the referral partner or clinician starts chasing paperwork, because they can’t fulfill the request without it—but even more to the point, they won’t be paid without it. But if you use an e-referral and e-prescribe tool that gets the order complete and right the first time without requiring your partners to take extra steps, you can trim the time it takes to turn around an order from days or weeks to minutes. Clearly, technical solutions that automate processes can help HME providers operate more efficiently, and they also contribute to better accuracy and fewer claim denials.

Level 2 pain: The business-financial impact

It’s important to understand how the customer’s problem affects the business, especially in a financial sense. Asking detailed questions can help identify pain points: What’s their payor performance for collections? What’s their patient collection rate? If they have issues at the back end of the process, it’s almost guaranteed that there are challenges with intake. Too often, organizations add bodies at the back end of a process to try fixing the issues that happen at the start. But if you can automate with tools like Brightree’s comprehensive patient intake, you can help avoid reworking a claim or processing an order that didn’t have prior authorization. What’s more, if you do the front end well, you’re able to show payors that you submit clean claims that streamline processes and make it easier for the patient, the payor and your business.

It’s also important to point out the return on a technology investment versus hiring more people. A small DME might spend $15,000 to $20,000 a year to automate the front end and have a single user interface. But compared to hiring two or three people to process intakes and claims that have errors, especially given hiring challenges and labor costs in larger markets, investing in technology can be a sensible solution for your business.

Level 3 pain: Personal interest

Productive discussions with customers should also dive into how current pain points are affecting individuals. For example, in the case of patient, this could literally be relief from physical pain, suffering or financial uncertainty. For an employee, it might be getting a chance to be at home with their family instead of working strenuous overtime caused by mistakes and misses. For payor partnerships, it might be a having a delightful experience working with your DME versus your competition. If you can show patients that your organization will process a claim and the patient won’t need to do anything more than pay the copay, or if you can show payors your claims are consistently clean, it will help sustain and grow your business.

4 important questions

So how can you and your salespeople begin to have conversations that uncover what might be going on in the lives of your customers, both internally and externally? It’s remarkably easy. Simply start asking your target audience these four conversational questions.

First, ask them, “What’s your biggest challenge right now?” It is essential to include the “right now.” Of course, there’s always more than one challenge, but this forces the person you are talking to at the moment to focus on the most impactful or painful challenge they currently face. The point here is to help them focus and prioritize actions they can take quickly to improve their situation. And it’s important to remember that things change quickly in our industry, so ask this question with some frequency to make sure you’re up to date with the customer’s situation.

Once you have the answer to the first question, ask them, “What have you tried so far?” This will help you avoid the trap of proposing a solution they’ve already tried. But adding this question can feel counter-intuitive for many people in sales, who often want to jump in and immediately start proposing solutions to help the customer alleviate their pain. But asking this additional question encourages more dialogue, which can yield even deeper understanding for your sales team.

Next, ask “What are you going to try next?” Again, it’s important to be patient and let your customer think about their challenges, because that motivates them. But sometimes the customer’s answer to this is simply, “I don’t know, I’m out of ideas.” This can be a great opening to discuss potential solutions, including some of your unique selling propositions. Remember to focus on their needs and not your product. Help them understand your organization’s experience and history helping customers with similar challenges.

The concluding question to ask is “By when?” Avoid asking about a timeline for making a decision. Asking how soon they want to solve their challenges helps establish a target date for when they can realistically take action. It also gives you an indication of how serious and urgent the issue is.

When you give your customers time to articulate their experiences and challenges more fully, it helps them feel heard and understood, rather than pressured. And this in turn helps foster better relationships, which are crucial for keeping your business healthy and growing.

Scott Dios

Scott Dios, Head of Sales

Scott has more than 25 years of experience in leadership roles across the health tech, fin tech, and various cross industries. Before joining Brightree as the Head of Sales, he was the Vice President of Sales at Stanley Black and Decker, Vice President of Enterprises at Fidelity Investment’s eMoney, and successfully exited his own business software and services company at Optima Technologies.


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