Selling Hearing Aids Or Providing Holistic Hearing Solutions
I have just come back from a two-day speaking event at BSHAA 2016 where I had hoped to challenge delegates thinking on technology, our business model and what exactly they do. I think I did just that for the two separate groups I spoke to, the sessions were certainly spirited with excellent discussion and not a few nodding heads to some of the statements I made. In essence, I told them our current business model is broken, that they should adopt technology as opposed to fearing it and they needed to take control of the conversation around hearing care. Let’s talk about that conversation.
The Product Conversation
Across the world, the conversation about hearing care is hearing aids, it is all about product, we as a profession have even encouraged it because to speak about an intangible such as service is difficult. When product is the conversation, value can be easily distorted as we have seen happen. This leads our prospects to believe that the solution to all of their issues is buying a hearing aid, that you as a professional simply put them on them, push a button and everything is right with the world.
This simple view has been encouraged by us, we incessantly speak about product. That encourages our prospect to think it is all about hearing aids, this encourages questions over the prices that are charged for hearing aids. Questions that we then answer with discussion of the service we offer, it is too late for us to discuss this when the questions are asked. Once a price has been discussed, everything after that is viewed as sales talk, when information is provided before a price is discussed, it is seen as just that, information or advice.
What Are You?
Ask yourself, in your own thoughts what exactly are you? Are you a hearing aid seller, have hearing aids become the overriding impetus for what you do? I don’t mean that in a derogatory way, I am just asking you to question yourself about what you consider the answer to hearing loss is and what you do in your professional life. We do so much more than just sell hearing aids, we provide care and service for people who need our knowledge and understanding, people who have problems with their ability to hear.
Change Your Focus
We should be considering how we can change the conversation away from product, we need to do so if we as professionals are to remain relevant. We need to think about holistic solutions to hearing problems, for instance, if someone comes to you with perfect hearing except for a mild to moderate kick down at 4 and 6K. Do we fit them with a set of hearing aids? Probably not. However, they have told you that they have some issues hearing the television and the arguments with their spouse over volume is causing some problems. What do you do, tell them to come back in a few years when their loss is bad enough for hearing aids?
A Solution Based Focus
That is what many of us do because we have allowed our focus to be purely on hearing aids as a solution. Our focus needs to be wider and we need to be smarter, we need to think about a solution based focus for all difficulties suffered by people with their ability to hear. Not just the ones that are bad enough for us to sell hearing aids to. In order to do this, we need to think outside of hearing aids to any and all technology that is or may become available that can help. In this one case it might be TV Ears or Turtle Beach HyperSound. In other situations it could be a SoundHawk or a set of Here Actives from Doppler Labs. These type of technologies don’t threaten us, they in fact deliver opportunities for us to change towards that solution based focus I am talking about. We aren’t a one trick pony, but by hell if we continue in this manner that is what we will be seen as.
A Broken Business Model
Our business model like countless others across the world is broken, it is a model that is designed for the last century based on the singular product that was available for the difficulties we treated. Consider that for a minute and you will realise it’s truth. We need to re-consider our business model, the services we offer, the products we offer, the very processes and practices we adhere to. There is a list of things that we can utilise to begin to change how we provide care, there is also a list of products that would change how we provide solutions. Currently if a Patient has a problem with an aid, they have to come to our office, usually for you to say the wax guard needs changing. That is unproductive for both you and your customer. Wouldn’t it be more productive for the Patient to Skype you, let you view the offending device and talk them through a couple of quick checks? In fact, if the ability to connect to the aid remotely was thrown in so you could run an analysis wouldn’t that be better?
Use The Damn Technology!
Too often I hear things like, “My Patients wouldn’t use Skype!” More often than not that is horse shit, yup I said it. It is not our Patients who are afraid of technology, they are busy using Skype to talk to their kids in Australia and their family in America. It is more often us, who are afraid of technology. I am not saying that the scenario I have discussed is for every Patient, but why don’t we offer it for the Patients who would appreciate it? I will say it one last time, our business model is broken, we need to innovate around it so that we as a profession remain relevant to our customers. Because if we don’t someone else will.
A Final Note
As long as the conversation around hearing care is dominated by products we will always be at a disadvantage. Everyone of us needs to realise that and change the conversation. We need to ensure that people understand that we provide holistic solutions to hearing problems that combine products with rehabilitation, aftercare and service. Because if we don’t, we won’t be relevant in the process, product will be relevant and we will be relegated to button pushers.