Profitability is a huge problem that keeps many small businesses from growing. In an ideal sales process, here’s what happens:
- The customer becomes aware of a need.
- The customer determines what options exist by asking around, doing online searches, or walking into a store.
- The customer decides (perhaps with the help of a friendly sales rep) to invest in a particular service.
- The seller explains the investment that is needed for the service.
- The customer provides payment.
- The seller completes the service and makes sure the customer is satisfied.
Some companies wait until after the service is completed before they request payment.
Either way, a good transaction is based on trust: a strong belief that your initial problem will be fixed, and that the value you receive will exceed the cost you’re paying.
But sometimes, this process doesn’t go the way it should.
Why do so many service owners, especially in the healthcare field, have trouble collecting timely payments?
Well, after many conversations with amazing naturopathic physicians, chiropractic doctors, and other integrative medicine business owners around the country, I have noticed a decision-making pattern that I call “Transaction Avoidance Syndrome.” This isn’t an official psychiatric designation, but it helps me to put a name to a set of circumstances that seems to completely overwhelm business owners.
The natural health practitioners I meet have several things in common:
- They are passionate about what they do.
- They provide high-quality services.
- They are intelligent and motivated.
- …But they’re also extremely uncomfortable accepting payment.
I started to wonder: Why do so many smart, qualified expert healthcare experts have trouble with their payment process? While there are many possible reasons (insurance claim rejection is a big one), I noticed a trend that was impossible to ignore.
Most of the time, there is an underlying discomfort with money. And that discomfort spills over into a sense of low self-worth, of de-valuing the services they provide, and of not using an assertive approach to connect with their patients and customers.
Over time, this passive, non-confrontational attitude results in lost sales, lost revenue, and eventually in a business that cannot sustain itself.
In my next post, I’ll discuss what happens when transactions go wrong.
Need help evaluating whether your practice is at risk? Fill out my Strategic Risk Questionnaire to get started.
Grace LaConte is a Strategic Risk Expert who helps Complementary and Integrative Health practitioners to find and fix organizational vulnerabilities. Using her experience as a Risk Officer and Director in healthcare and technology companies, Grace shares a refreshingly honest approach to uncovering hidden risks and opportunities. Learn more at http://laconteconsulting.com, or connect with her on Twitter @lacontestrategy.