Must Haves For a Successful Aesthetic Practice Tip #2: Having a Superior Consultation Process
As an aesthetic practice you should be spending money on advertising. Given you have a strategically aligned marketing plan you should be bringing in leads for consultations – and if you don’t, well don’t worry because tips on successful advertising will be a topic in the coming weeks! Anyways, so you want to make sure your marketing dollars are not being wasted on valuable leads that do not receive a proper consultation.
A proper consultation consists of superior customer service through fully educating the customer, giving a thorough aesthetic assessment – meaning fully assess the customer’s needs even if they only come in for one specific thing. This is important because a lot of consumers don’t know exactly what they need, but they will usually come into the consultation thinking they know. They need the advice of professionals to truly understand the benefit of full aesthetic treatments that address all the needs together. If we don’t do this for customers we are doing them a disservice – in the medical field I compare this to someone who is sick, if we don’t diagnose everything that is going on and only diagnose one factor but there are multiple symptoms then this is the same type of disservice.
Here are the main factors that contribute to a proper consultation:
I covered the importance of systems in order to run a successful practice in the last blog of this series, and this holds true for the consultation process. If you haven’t read our blog on systems in your practice make sure to visit our site to get some important tips!
Setting Goals and Accountability
The main reason systems are important is because they allow you to set goals and then track those goals to actual production in order to hold sales associates accountable for their individual production. They should be given a goal for closing percentage, average invoice, cross-selling, as well as some type of tracking for customer service delivery. Once you have goals established it is important to meet on a regularly scheduled basis to benchmark the consultants performance. I would recommend bi-monthly as it is good to have a good chunk of variable data for each review.
Hiring the Right Fit
A compelling consultation will make the difference of a customer that becomes a lifetime customer with a significant lifetime value, or a customer who ends up just purchasing once or not at all. Although it doesn’t sound complicated, we all know this isn’t the easiest sales cycle for consultants. There is a lot of competition, objections from customers, and high costs for services that provide obstacles – or as I like to call it ‘opportunities’ – for consultants. It’s worth it to wait for the perfect candidate than to rush to hire any sales person with experience to fill the seat. That is one of the worst mistakes, it will always cost you both time and money in the long run. When I interview candidates for a consultant position, it is probably one of my least formal interviews I conduct. By this I mean that I don’t typically have a formalized structure of questions I ask, I am looking for a person that I can have a genuine conversation with for an hour or two that naturally develops and leads to questions and discovery of that candidate.
So a lot of people always ask me ‘what skills do top consultants possess?’
It’s simple: they need to have presence and energy, relate well with others, be good at customizing services to the individual needs of the customer, know how to uncover all needs of the customer, and finally understand the market.
Developing a Consultant Certification/Training Program
To be a good consultant, you must become well-educated in the following areas: skin anatomy, skin diseases, current market treatments and technologies. Even if your clinic does not perform all of these treatments, you need to be knowledgeable because chances are the client will be when they ask specific questions. Your technology could be a direct competitor to a different service offered down the street so knowing all treatments and technology out there is very critical. Most prospective clients have done their research in advance through the internet and if you are not careful, they could very well have more knowledge than you. If you aren’t knowledgeable in these areas, this will become very clear to the prospective client and will hurt your consultation performance.
Provide a Complete Individualized Treatment Plan for Each Customer
A typical consultation should last approximately an hour to be able to fully understand the customer’s needs and customize a treatment plan. This always creates a win-win situation. The customer will end the treatment plan happy and return for more services or refer friends and family. If the customer is sold an incomplete package – such as not enough treatments to achieve desired results, or not enough services to address the complete concern of the customer – then your customer dissatisfaction level will be higher resulting in less return customers and word-of-mouth marketing.
For the company it increases average first invoice which then increases revenue and profits. The high customer satisfaction also has a direct correlation to revenue and profits by decreasing your cost per acquisition and increase your long-term-value of the customers.
Close the Sale!
So all of this is great and will get your customer engaged, but really, it all means nothing unless you can close the sale! The best way of creating the sense of urgency at this point is to offer same day treatment for those services that this is possible. This builds excitement for the customer.
Provide a same day incentive to get the customer to commit. This is very important because the chance of closing a sale after the day of their consultation is slim to none – as low as 5% of customers will return if they don’t purchase some type of package that day. Usually this is due to a lack in providing enough value to the customer.
Get creative with your same day purchase offers!
In summary, consultations require passion, knowledge, and energy. If any of your employees aren’t strong in these areas, they should not be performing consultations. Consultations also require a systemized approach that ensures a certain level of consistency for each client who receives a consultation. I have seen practices triple their revenue just by changing the associate handling consultations and nothing else!