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In part one we discussed the process for how hospice marketers should handle objections. You can read the full article here:

To recap, when presented with an objection there are 5 tips to remember:

1. Stop

Take a breath. Don’t say anything for at least 1-2 seconds.

Responding immediately means you haven’t heard the speaker and they won’t feel heard.

2. Go Slow

After 1-2 seconds pause, when you respond, slow down the speed of your speech

Don’t rush your reply.  Your response should be slow and considered showing the person you’ve heard them.

3. Avoid canned responses

Understand who you’re speaking with, what their role is and what concerns them.

Telling a SNF admin about your awesome patient care will not impact them if their focus is smooth operations, scheduling, availability etc.

4. Ask questions

Your default response should be to ask questions such as:

Can you give me an example?

Can you clarify what you meant by….?

Has this been an issue before?

How would you like this type of situation to be handled?

5. Respond

If you have an answer, present it.

Make sure you’re addressing their actual objection though. The answer they give to your follow up questions may present a different objection then their initial statement.

If you don’t know the answer, don’t fake it. Let them know you’ll find out and get back to them.

Bonus tips

A. Follow up your response with a question that confirms the answer dealt with the objection such as:

  • Does that make sense?
  • How does that sound to you?

B. Follow up the next day:

Use your answered objection to create another touch point and reach back out the next day. Let them know you double checked internally and are confirming or changing or adding to your reply.

Remember: As your agency’s representative It’s your job to meet people where they are; to understand their daily responsibilities, the nature of their focus, and speak to their issues not yours.

Each facility type and discipline within each facility have different responsibilities.

Everyone wants great patient care, and as they are already dealing with hospices, other than yours, they are already comfortable with the level of patient care. You need to bring something more than that to the table. You need to understand and address their day to day issues.

An admin or SNF owner is be focused on finances and organization. A DON and other directors must focus on organization, scheduling, patient family issues, and other managerial type responsibilities.

From their perspective, if everyone focuses on their jobs and does that well, patient care will be awesome. So address what they care about.

Objection Examples

Here are a few of the most common objections a hospice marketers face:

1. Objection from a nursing home administrator

Objection: Why do we need your hospice agency to care for our patients? We don’t like outsiders bringing their own nurses and medical equipment into our facilities, it creates a lot of complications for us!

How to answer:

  1. Stop
  2. Speak slowly
  3. Ask: Can you explain what you mean by complications?

 Let’s say this admin says something along the lines of:

Having  your people coming in and out of my facility whenever it fits their schedule, so we end up with a CNA coming in an hour after our CNA was in the room. So when the family comes in the afternoon, they find their loved one in a wet diaper that no one noticed because the visits overlapped in the morning. That doesn’t help anyone and just aggravates the patient and their family and makes us look bad.

 Your reply can be something along the lines of:

Great. Thanks for clarifying that for me.

I think what I’m hearing is that other hospices you’ve dealt with in the past were disorganized and didn’t properly communicate.

My agency understands that you’ve got a system in place and hospice is just a small piece of what goes on here. It’s our job to work within your parameters. That’s why with every patient, we will work with you and your team to set a visit schedule.

So for example, if your CNAs make their rounds in the morning, we’ll make sure to schedule ours in the afternoon. By working together we can make sure that your patients will get more care throughout the day and that our team is supporting your team and not getting in the way.

And, by having our staff scheduled properly, and communicating that clearly and regularly, you’ll see that it will really free up your team and give them more time to see other patients.

 Does that make sense?

2. Objection from a nursing home administrator

Objection: But why would I want to go through the hassle of dealing with room and board collection rates. I can just keep skilling them, billing, and frankly, delivering great patient care just like a hospice would; we are a medical facility y’know. Do I really need hospice in here? It makes more sense to us to just minimize hospice to the most terminal patients.

  1. Stop
  2. Speak slowly
  3. Ask: You mentioned a few different things there so let me address each point but I want to make sure I understand. What’s the issue with room and board rates?

Let’s say this admin says something like:

When hospice takes over, we only get paid room and board, so now we’re making less, still have liability and care to deliver the patient, and now we’re waiting for your agency to get paid before we get paid which is much longer than we want to wait. We want to get paid in 60 days regardless.

How to answer:

Great. Thank you for clearing that up. What I hear you saying is your worried about cash flow. We know room and board rates are an issue for facilities. That’s why in our facilities contract we commit to payment in 60 days regardless of if we’ve been paid yet or not.

Does that work for you?

Admin – yes. I’d like to see that in writing but that works for me for the room and board. But frankly, I still have the skilling and billing issue. At the end of the day, putting a patient on hospice, especially before they are imminent, costs me money.

How not to answer:

Responding with, but it’s what’s best for the patient or anything about patient care, recommendations etc. will not just fall on deaf ears, but show the admin that you don’t understand or care about their concerns. If you can’t show how hospice makes them money they won’t use you. They know how much they care about what happens in their facility with their patients. The last thing they want is a salesperson telling them how much they need to care.

How to answer:

I hear what you’re saying and yes, at first glance it can appear like hospices are taking dollars you can be collecting. I totally get that. But. In fact, using hospice, especially getting appropriate patients on hospice as early as possible, will actually make you much more money than skilling and billing; let me explain.

1st You have staff savings by having our team picking up most of the care – that’s both direct savings but also smoother operations and typically better ratings for your facilities as every study shows that facilities that use hospice early have greater patient family satisfaction.

2nd Infection rates. Once a pt goes on hospice you’re no longer sending them out to the hospital. Every time someone goes to or from the hospital, you’ve introduced infection vectors to your facility. Studies show that infections jump about 5% in a facility when patients go to and come back from hospitals. That’s a huge cost and dangerous situation for your patients that is minimized by using hospice.

3rd  Bed hold rates. Every time you send a patient to a hospital, not only are you increasing infection risk, but you now have to tie up that bed for days waiting for them to come back, or not. Those bed hold days are real cash your’re loosing every day on every bed on hold. While you may not make as much per day with a patient on hospice in your facility, when offsetting infections and bed holds over the course of a year it will actually generate savings of tens of thousands of dollars meaning hospice actually is a net financial positive for you.

What do you think?

3. Objection from a floor Nurse or DON-

Objection: The patient is being treated just fine by our staff in the nursing home, putting the patient on hospice will cause disruption in our nurses’ workflow.

How to answer:

  1. Stop
  2. Speak slowly
  3. Ask: Can you give me an example of what you mean by disruptions? Did something happen with another hospice that was disruptive?

Let’s say this DON  says something along the lines of:

The constant traffic of hospice staff disturbs the other patients that share the same room and my nurses never quite know what’s going on with patients in our facility.

How to answer:

OK, thanks. I think I understand now. 1st, regarding other patients being disturbed, Let me be upfront, they’re being disturbed anyhow – whether it’s my nurse or your nurse or my CNA or your CNA, it’s the same issue. That being said, while hospice is a form of medical care, it is a non-intervention form of care that also involves significant training in dealing with these types of issues. So frankly, with my teams experience and training, plus the fewer interventions that will occur with a hospice patient, we’ve found that other patients in a room are actually much less disturbed when sharing a room with a hospice patient than with another patient who may have all types of interventions, paramedics in and out etc.

As for making sure your team know what’s going on, we will work with you to develop a schedule that works for you and your team and we can either leave a hospice binder here per patient so any team member can easily access or we can even chart in your system after every visit – or both. Whatever communication format works best for you.

Our goal is to work with you so not only do patients get the care they need, but your team is supported by our team.

How does that sound to you?

Family Objection

Because, especially with small and midsize agencies, hospice marketers will also often handle patient consent meetings, it’s important to recognize that getting the consent is part of the process. If you can’t get consents, and another agency does, your referral source will dry up quick.

Handling family objections is the same process.

Objections from a family member-

Objection: Is our loved one really ready for hospice? How do we know this is best for them?

How not answer: Don’t be transactional. Hospice isn’t product sales or even service sales, it’s consultative selling, meaning it’s your job to hear, understand, and advise.

Don’t just run roughshod over people emotionally fragile. Listen to their objection & clarify, is it religious? Financial? Guilt driven? What’s really happening here?

If you just say, Don’t worry we’ll take great care of your loved one, just sign and you’ll see the great care we deliver, you’re just pushing for a signature and repeating a canned patient care response.

How to answer:

  1. Stop
  2. Speak slowly
  3. Ask: I don’t want to pressure you into anything. This is an important decision so please, can you tell me more about your concerns?

Let’s say this family says something along the lines of:

Well it’s really what I said, how do I know what’s best? I want to make the right decision but I don’t know what that is.

How to answer:

Look, at the end of the day, I can’t make that decision for you. But what I can tell you is this:

Hospice is a form of medical care. It’s a non-intervention form of care recognizing that at this point, doing things like CPR will not only make quality of life worse, but may even hasten death.

But it’s not removing your loved one from medical care. I can’t wake up one day and be like, I’m just going to stay home and have a hospice send me a Can, Nurse, Social worker etc to come take care of me. Like any medical treatment hospice requires a doctors order and all care is overseen by a doctor.

And hospice isn’t a jail. If your dad/mom/uncle/ whoever, gets their weight up, get’s their streanth back, and we see a real rise in their overall levels – if you want to leave and try chemo again, or another therapy that maybe he couldn’t handle today, you can always revoke. And if needed, get recertified for hospice. Your benefits never expire. But right now, today, the doctors think this is the best course of treatment.

What do you think?

 The first step in overcoming objections is really listening, hearing what the person is saying, being respectful of their issues, and working to understand those issues.

Once you understand what the other person is really saying, answering what’s important to them instead of what’s important to you is going to be the difference between playing a numbers game to get referrals or being able to build a strong network of dedicated and loyal referral sources..

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