Editors Note: The following is adapted from Chapter 5 of The Book on Dispensing Hearing Aids by Roy Bain (InfoQuest, San Diego, Calif, 2005), a book that speaks frankly about what some might view as hearing aid sales but also clearly expresses the need for consultative sales and effective counseling. Chapters 1-4 deal with the evolution of the hearing care profession, the need for spouses and/or significant others to attend counseling sessions, consultative selling methods, and the different methods that can be used in motivating the client to purchase and use hearing aids (ie, Bain has assigned names to each of these Motivators in Chapter 4).
Can you believe it? After you have given your fantastic consultation, instead of giving you their credit card and having you take impressions, the prospective patient gives you a reason why he or she cant purchase hearing aids. What happened? The prospective patient and their spouse are intelligent people. Theyre still indecisive. What went wrong?
Nothing happened. Nothing went wrong. Objections are not bad. Objections are nothing more than questions waiting to be answered.
I asked you earlier to think of the hardest objection for you to overcome, and here is the real answer: Because it is impossible to overcome an objection about which you do not know, the hardest objection to overcome is the one they dont tell you.
If the patient asks a question in the form of an objection, you must answer it and then, once again, motivate him/her to purchase. If you answer the objection and just sit there, youll get another objection. So always follow your answer with a motivator.
Overcoming objections takes a logical explanation and an emotional motivation. If you only give logical answers, you will fit a lot of hearing aids for your competitors. Using logic is great to educate the patient to their needs. Using logic only, youll fit a few and miss a lot. If you use emotion only, you will sell a lot of hearing aids and get a lot of returns. If a patient buys because they got excited, when they get home they wont know why they bought, and will call back and cancel. An example of a logical and an emotional approach may be found later when discussing the Im too old objection.
Rather than a quick-and-direct response to an objection, it may help to explain how important the hearing sense is and then finish by answering the objection. Try this:
Our five senses are synergistic in that they work together, similar to how five musical instruments complement each other in a band. If you remove one instrument from the band, the remaining four often become better to compensate. The problem intensifies when all instruments remain in the band, but one instrument is played off-key.
If a person loses one sense, the other four may become more keenly focused to compensate for the loss. Like the band, the problem intensifies when all senses remain but one functions poorly. For example, if a person spills his/her coffee while setting down the cup, you may think that person is clumsy. You would not blame a loss of hearing. However, if the person didnt hear the little click as the cup touched the saucer, he/she may have let go of the cup too soon.
Hearing often signals other reactions. If the signal is not heard, the reaction may be incorrect. When the phone rings, we dont wonder what it is. Our hand automatically picks up the handset and places it over our ear, and we say Hello. It is the sound we heard that triggered the other responses.
You then answer their objection directly and close the sale.
The Money Objection
Considered the hardest objection to overcome by many, the Money Objection is sometimes difficult because of our early programming. As stated earlier, our parents may have taught us as children not to ask for moneynot very good training when we end up living in a society in which money is used to keep score and working in a profession in which our success depends to some degree on our ability to ask for and get the money!
The Money Objection must be understood before you attempt to overcome it. What is the prospective patient really saying?
- I cannot afford to buy. I dont have that much money.
- Your hearing aids are expensive. Why do they cost so much?
- I believe I can buy it for less from your competitor.
Determining just what the prospective patient is saying can be difficult because the Money Objection is often a smokescreen used to camouflage the real reason for not buying. The prospective patient drives up to your office in a new Mercedes, is well-dressed and dripping in jewelry, and then claims not to be able to afford the product he came to check out. Be careful not to judge the book by its often-understated cover. The fact that the prospective patient is poorly dressed in outdated clothing may only describe lifestyle and not financial capability.
When you are given the Money Objection, the prospective patient is saying, I want to buy your product. I just cant or wont spend the money. I like to explain to the patient that there is no better place to spend his/her money than on him/herself. As a mater of fact, when patients spend money on themselves, they are not really lessening what they have, but changing their resources from money to something of more useful.
Anyone can give hearing aids away. It takes skill to sell them. Always start with the assumption that the prospect can afford the best. Make your first offer based on the best solution for the prospects need, and then analyze the response. If you determine that the prospect is being sincere and really cannot afford that which you have offered, change the offer and use the Finance Motivator. If you feel the prospect has the money but thinks your product costs too much, consider using the Inducement Motivator. [These concepts are discussed in the previous chapter]
Be careful when offering a cash discount. Seniors are great negotiators; theyve had a lot of practice. Once they realize that your price is flexible, they may want more. If you do give a cash discount, be sure to give a reason that makes sense…
You may ask: Is size important to you? If we can fit you with larger instruments we can save you some money without changing the electronic components. The only difference will be acoustics and microphone placement.
Or you may say: I dont wish to fit you with anything less than the best because of cost, so here is what I recommend. I can direct the lab to custom-build you in-the-canal instruments, which are a tiny bit larger than the completely-in-the-canal type. I will then instruct them to put a monofilament extraction string on them for easy removal. Almost no one would be able to tell the difference. By using the latest digital technology, you give up nothing as far as your hearing is concerned and we can save you some money.
If you determine that the prospect believes he can purchase the same product elsewhere cheaper, use the Most Important Decision or Inducement Motivator. Remember: Dont turn a statement like, Wow! These things are expensive, into an objection to be overcome. Respond to a statement with a statement, Yes, everything is too expensive these days. I can remember when gas was 19 cents a gallon, but thats the way life is. Then use the Physical-Action Motivator. If you believe the Money Objection is just a smokescreen, you may want to use the Easy Question Motivator.
The I Want to Think It Over Objection
Have you ever gone into a store, with money in pocket to buy a product, but the salesperson confused you to the point that you left without making the purchase? I went to a stereo store in the mall. All they sell is stereo equipment. I was in need and wanted to buy an expensive stereo. When approached by the salesperson, I told him what I had in mind. The salesperson took me on a tour of shelves and shelves of sophisticated equipment. He explained much more than I needed to know. He changed me from a consumer who knew what he wanted into a consumer who was confused and unsure of what he wanted. The choices were too many, so I told him I want to think it over and left.
I went to another store where the salesperson, after listening to what I wanted, took me over to one stereo and told me a few understandable reasons why this stereo was one of the best on the market to fill my need. I not only bought the stereo recommended, but also felt I got the best and was happy with my purchase.
I want to think it over can be a very difficult objection to overcome. You must convince the prospective patient that it is in his/her best interest to do it now without giving him or her the feeling that he or she is being pressured. If you appear pushy, the patient will become irritated and leave. If you just sit there and dont attempt to close, the patient will not be irritated, but they will still leave.
So how can we get past this objection and close the sale? When a person says, I want to think it over, we must determine the source of their uncertainty. The whole idea is to change the I want to think it over objection, which is usually a stall hiding the real objection, to an objection you can handle, and then motivate the prospective patient to purchase.
If you ask, What do you want to think over? the prospective patient will generally answer with, Everything! or Nothing in particular I just like to think things over before making a decision. In either case, the objection is now set in concrete and is more difficult to overcome.
The solution is simple: Start by agreeing. Its always wise to think things over. However, youve been thinking this over for a number of years, right? Then ask a two-part question with no pause so that the patient will focus on and answer the second half of the question, not the first. What is it you need to think over? Are you not convinced you have a hearing problem?
If the answer is No, then you must go back and present more evidence to prove the problem exists. If the answer is, Yes, I believe I have a hearing problem, you then ask, Are you concerned that hearing instruments wont help you? If the answer to that question is Yes, then you must demonstrate with amplification and/or give the prospective patient a greater sense of security by explaining your minimal-risk fitting program.
If the answer is in some negative form, you now ask: Are you concerned about the price? If the patient says, Well, thats a lot of money, you need to explain: It is my job to find a solution to your hearing problem that fits within your budget. Offer other products at a lower price, or explain how financing will make the price affordable.
If he says, No, its not the money!, then you may then ask, Are you just concerned about how your wife/husband feels about this? If the answer is Yes, enlist spousal assistance. If the answer is No, then try the Three Question, the Green Lights, or the Inducement Motivator.
After trying another motivation, if the prospective patient says he/she must still think it over, try this approach: When a person says he/she wants to think over a problem that has existed for many years, do you know how long they usually think it over? Usually for about 10 minutes. Do you know when they think it over? As soon as they leave the office! Then the problem is that, if a question comes up, there is no one to ask. So why dont I leave the room and let the two of you discuss it?
When you return, come prepared with a slightly different solution to get you back into conversation. If you return and ask, Did you make a decision? They may say, Yes and the answer is no. If you return and say, I have come up with a slightly different solution. What we might do is you are now back on closing grounds, and this time they may not need to think it over.
The Negative Previous Experience Objection
A negative previous experience may have come in one of many forms. It is necessary to find out which form your patient has experienced, so you may deal with it.
Finding out what negative experience occurred usually happens as a result of being a good listener. The prospective patient or the spouse may, early in the consultation, say something like:
- I read a story in the paper about hearing aids and why they cost so much.
- I saw something on TV about an operation that helps you hear better so you dont have to wear hearing aids.
- I tried hearing aids, and I couldnt stand them.
- My friend bought those expensive hearing aids and doesnt wear them.
These statements probably represent only half-hearted objections, or the prospective patient wouldnt be sitting in front of you, considering hearing aids. Nonetheless, these statements must be satisfied before the sale can be made.
This objection is the patients way of asking how hearing aids have improved. They want you to assure them that they wont be disappointed, and that what happened to their friend wont happen to them. In the case of a friends negative experience, explain how all losses are different. Ask, What type of hearing loss does your friend have? They dont usually know and the problem is lessened. The Most Important Decision Motivator works well here.
The My Hearing Isnt Bad Enough Objection
Obviously if the patient says, My hearing is not bad enough at the end of your consultation, you have not exposed the hearing impairment sufficiently. You must now go back and, by use of the familiar voice word-comprehension test, prove that the prospective patient is missing more than they realize. Unfortunately, when you have to go back because you have not proven your case, it appears as crass salesmanship. This may cause the suspicious person to think you are trying to pressure them, at which point their objection may become insurmountable.
Use the Spousal Questionnaire [from Chapter 3] and the Hearing & Understanding Motivators. Try to get the prospective patient to accept help in order to please their family and friends by saying: There is quite a difference between a hearing problem and a vision problem. Helen Keller, who was both deaf and blind said, When you lose your vision, you lose contact with things. When you loose your hearing, you lose contact with people. If you are looking at me, and you cant see me very well, it doesnt affect me at all. If we are talking and you dont hear properly, then your problem becomes my problem, and the two of us have a communication problem. Your hearing problem is a communication problem for the whole family. When you solve your hearing problem it is a great gift for your family and friends who enjoy talking with you. Does that make sense to you?
Another analogy that may help the person who does not think or doesnt want to admit that his/her hearing loss is a problem:
When a person begins to have difficulty seeing, they sometimes hold the paper farther away. When the paper reaches the end of his/her arms, then its time to make a decision. They can do one of three things: 1) Decide not to read the paper anymore, which means they give up a lot of enjoyment; 2) Blame the newspaper company and tell them if they want them to take their paper, they will have to make the print larger, which they wont do; or 3) They can make the right decision, accept the problem as their own, and get glasses.
When your hearing threshold reaches the 25 dB loss area, it is time for you to make one of three decisions. You can stop communicating with family and friends, which makes no sense. You can blame others and tell them if they want you to hear they will have to speak louder, which many wont do. You can make the right decision by realizing the problem is yours and you must solve it. The longer you wait, the more difficult it is to solve. So why not let your family win this one? Do you want to make them happy and give it a try?
If it is the spouse who says, I dont think his/her hearing is too badhe/she just doesnt pay attention, use the Nerve Damage Easel Motivator.
Should the spouse bring up the fact that the prospective patient speaks too loudly, I like to tell this story:
When Roy Rogers turned 80, he decided to record an album. Upon hearing about it, many country singers wanted to sing along with RoyWillie Nelson, Randy Travis, and Clint Black, to name a few. Each performer went to a studio and recorded their part of the recording and sent it to Roy. Roy then traveled to Nashville to record his part. Roy was seated in a small sound room, where he was to sing along with the music being piped in through earphones. Problem was that when he put the earphones on, his hearing aids fed back. Roy then removed his hearing aids, put the earphones on, and then turned up the volume. Roy (Dusty) Rogers, Jr, repeatedly entered the room to tell his dad that he was singing off-key. Frustrated, Roy decided to call the whole thing off and returned home. Dusty called me and explained the problem. I had a set of hearing aids without vents built for Roy. He returned to Nashville and finished the recording, and the album Tribute was soon released.
We control how we speak by how we hear. When Roy could not hear properly, he sang off-key. Because you do not hear yourself properly, you speak too loud. Once we amplify the sounds, your voice should soften so it will be more comfortable for your family. Does that make sense to you?
The Doctor Said a Hearing Aid Wont Help Objection
Why would a doctor tell a person with a hearing loss that a hearing aid wont help? Maybe the doctor has been out of school for a long time or has only experienced hearing aids through the comments of his hearing-aid-using patients, some of whom may have been unhappy with their hearing aids. Maybe the doctor has an impairment of his own and has had poor results with amplification. Maybe the doctor wanted to tell the patient, who didnt want to wear hearing aids, what the patient wanted to hear. Maybe the doctor didnt really tell the patient what he thought he heard.
The My Doctor Said a Hearing Aid Wont Help Objection can be difficult, at best, because it tends to pit you against the doctor. If the patient respects, trusts, and likes the doctor, anything contradictory you say, even if you are right, makes you wrong in the patients eyes.
Lessening the objection by listening is a good first approach. Ask leading questions, such as: Who is the doctor? and What is the doctors specialty? You may wish to contact the doctor. Another good question to ask is: What did the hearing-aid dispenser/audiologist say? If the patient says he/she has not spoken to a dispenser/audiologist, you can say, So you havent been tested by anyone who specializes in the fitting of hearing aids? Follow with, Have you given up?
Seldom does a person like to admit they have given up. They might say, If I had given up, I wouldnt be here. Use the Master Hearing Aid/Smile Motivator.
The Im Too Old Objection
Some people think they are old at 60, while others believe they are young at 90. The Im Too Old Objection is usually a stall; the patient doesnt really even believe it. You may handle this objection in one of the following methods:
Logic: Of course none of us know how long we are going to live; the shorter the time we have left, the more precious that time is. If you knew that you were going to only live one more day, that day would be rather important. I once fitted hearing aids for a man who was 96 years old. He told me that he was going to live another 96 years and wanted to hear for the rest of his life. Now he knew that he wouldnt live for another 96 years, but dont you think he had the right attitude? Its important for each of us to do all we can, to stay as young as we can, for as long as we can? If the answer is affirmative use the Physical-Action Motivator. If you feel the patients objection is sincere, you may wish to use the Sound-Sorter Motivator.
Emotion: Accept the comment as a joke, answer a joke with a joke, laugh and say; If you die within the next year, come in, and Ill give you your money back. Laugh and then use the Physical-Action Motivator.
The I Want to Wait a While Objection
The I Want to Wait a While Objection is a cover-up for some other reason for not buying today. Maybe the patient does not feel he has enough of a problem. Maybe he does not want to tell you he believes he needs hearing aids, but cannot afford them. Maybe he has a vanity problem. By asking questions, you will bring out the real objection.
If the I Want to Wait a While Objection is the only objection given, then you must convince the prospective patient that waiting is not in his/her best interest. Use the Hearing & Understanding, Green-Lights, or Circle of Understanding Motivators.
The I Want to Try Before I Buy Objection
I Want to Try Before I Buy may not necessarily be an objection. If your experience with trials has been good, a trial is a sale. On the other hand, if a large percentage of your trial fittings end up as failures, you might consider a different approach. To borrow an often used and seldom overstated claim, Word of mouth is the best form of advertising.
Consider this hypothetical situation:
You are the happy owner of a sandwich counter at the sports stadium. There are 80,000 hungry potential customers in the stands. Within four weeks, you have sold and delivered 100,000 sandwiches. Business is good and your future is looking bright, right? Maybe and maybe not.
Fifteen to 20 thousand of your customers take a small bite, spit it out, and ask for the return of their money. After 4 weeks, 15-20% of your customers are telling their friends that they tried your sandwiches and did not like them. Would you be surprised to find that while your potential customer base was growing, your sales were shrinking?
The senior population is mushrooming. When you consider that approximately 1 in 3 people over the age of 60 have a hearing problem, our stadium of potential patients is filled to the overflowing. Unfortunately, 15-20% of those who try hearing aids are not successful. These disappointed senior citizens tell their friends they tried hearing aids, but didnt like them. These seniors disseminating negative word-of-mouth advertising about our profession enjoy the positive creditability of our grandparents.
No two hearing losses are alike. The duration and severity of the impairment is different in each case. The frequency-by-frequency loss configuration is seldom the same. The hearing-impaired persons ability to sort, recognize, and understand language varies greatly from patient to patient. Each patients emotional involvement, motivation, or lack thereof is unique.
Your challenge, if you choose to be a successful practitioner, is to fit the prospective patient with hearing aids that significantly solve their hearing problem in quiet and noisy surroundings. The patient must be satisfied with and benefit from the hearing aids, or you must refund the purchase price in full. Irrespective of complications due to the differences described, you have only 30 days to do this! Good luck; you may need it.
Mandatory 30-day trials are not good medicine. Such trial periods place the dispenser and the patient under pressure to accomplish that which, in many cases, is impossible. The dispenser suffers loss of time, effort, money, and reputation. Because the 30-day trial may not be long enough, the patient is the biggest loser. If the trial period ends in failure, the patients return to their troubled world believing they cannot be helped and tell their friends. Had the trial been extended another 30 days, the outcome may have been much different.
In place of the 30-day trial, you could offer the patient a 60-day Auditory Rehabilitation Program (ARP). The first 30 days are for familiarization and adaptation to new hearing instruments. During this period the hearing aids would be adjusted physically for proper fit, and acoustically and electronically fit for maximum comfort and audibility.
During the 60 days, the use of Listening Therapy should allow the patient to make the necessary adjustments to become acclimated to his/her new and different hearing environment. The success of Listening Therapy lies in its simplicity: The patient is asked to read aloud for one hour or longer per day. Also, have the spouse read aloud to the patient. While reading, the spouse should occasionally stop in the middle of a sentence and ask the hearing-impaired person to repeat the last word. The purpose of Listening Therapy is to help the patient recognize and relearn the words or sounds they have been missing. Also, if they wear hearing aids at least one hour per day in the beginning, they will learn to use them.
If improved hearing is not the result of this program, 75% of the patients money would be refunded. The dispenser would retain 25% compensation for services rendered. The forfeited 25% would discourage the patient from returning the instruments for unfair reasons. For example, it would be unfair if the patient purchased, on trial, the same instrument from a competitor who promised the aid at a lower price.
When a mandatory 30-day trial is given to a new user with the sale of hearing aids, the patient is constantly comparing their aided performance to their unaided performance. Within the first 30 days, their new aided sound environment may not compete favorably with the comfort they experience without hearing aids.
When upgrading to better technology, the experienced user compares the new, unfamiliar-sounding technology to the old familiar sounding instruments. The patient should be instructed to use only the new instruments during the two-month ARP. With two months to establish a positive, friendly relationship between dispenser and patient, the patient may be helped through this difficult period of auditory confusion.
The result of a successful ARP should be fewer returns, and more importantly, positive word of mouth advertising for you and the hearing-aid profession you represent.
The I Want to Talk It Over Objection
If the prospective patient says, I want to talk it over with my spouse, then you have already done something wrong. Place more emphasis on spousal attendance when the appointment is being made, and ensure the spouse participates in the consultation.
If you find yourself in a situation where the spouse is absent, and you decide to continue with the consultation, you should ask a few questions before beginning. First ask, Is your spouse the reason you are here? If the answer is Yes, then say, So your spouse thinks you need help? Do you think it would make your spouse happy if you could hear better? Have the patient fill out the Spousal Questionnaire prior to being tested. Tell him/her to answer the questions the way he/she thinks their spouse would answer them. The answers given will help later, should this objection surface.
If you can sense the I Want to Talk It Over Objection arising, stop short of telling the prospective patient the price, and instead ask, Do you mind if I make a phone call to your spouse so I can explain to him/her what your tests tell us? Your hearing problem is a communication problem for him/her, and Im sure he/she would like to know about the solution. If the answer is OK, then some dispensers have difficulty making the call. I have never personally found the spouse unappreciative. Believe me, it makes more sense than watching prospective patients leave without the help they need.
When you call the spouse, explain the hearing problem. Then explain what you propose. Be sure to let the spouse know that, if their husband or wife does not hear at delivery, the money will be refunded. Invite the spouse to attend the delivery and get his/her approval. You can then finish with the prospective patient. You say: I spoke to your spouse and I explained your hearing problem and what it will cost for correction. He/she said you should get the help you need. Your spouse also said he or she wants to accompany you when you come for delivery. Use the ARP Motivator and let him or her know that if he or she doesnt hear and understand better at the time of delivery, you will return his or her money. Cancellations dont usually occur at the time of delivery.
If you feel the patient makes his or her own decisions, you are well on the way to a successful close. Obviously, if one is comfortable making decisions on their own, such as a newly married senior who spends his or her own money, the closing is not an arduous task.
The I Want to Shop Around Objection
The I Want to Shop Around Objection is always a put-off. The patient is telling you he/she is not sold on buying hearing aidsor the patient may be sold and wants to negotiate the price. By asking leading questions, you may find out more about for what your patient plans to go shopping. Explain that you can get almost any hearing aid available and that you have products at many different prices, so he/she may shop without leaving your office. Explain that when people go shopping, all they will be comparing are the stories told and not the hearing they will receive.
Try the Most Important Decision, the ARP, and then the Master Hearing Aid/Smile Motivator. If these dont work, before the patient leaves your office ask, Is it price you are shopping for? If the answer is Yes, then you may want to negotiate. Start by saying: Once I find out what you want to spend, I can tell you how we can solve your problem. Before you came in today, what did you expect to spend on hearing instruments? or I dont mind negotiating. As a matter of fact, I believe it is smart to negotiate. I negotiate on almost everything I buy. What price are you looking for?
If a price is given and it is acceptable to you, you say: So youre saying that if I will fit you with these hearing aids for $XXX, you want to hear better? If the answer is Yes, then take action using the If I Could, Would You? Motivator.
Remember that, if you dont come up with a Shopper Stopper, the prospective patient will consult another dispenser. This dispenser will obtain knowledge of your offer. He/she may offer a lower price or add more services to make the sale. If you dont close the sale, youre rolling out the red carpet to the door of your competitor. At a smaller percent of profit, your competitor has a new patient that will refer others to him or her. You have gained nothing for your efforts.
The Vanity Objection
Vanity is alive and well! Many people who are hearing impaired perceive the wearing of a hearing aid as a sign of aging. What they perceive is what they believe. Our challenge is to convince the potential patient that, while hearing impairment may be a sign of age, the use of a hearing aid is a sign of intelligence.
All too often, we ready the patient for voicing objections by not taking the issue of vanity into consideration. We insist on fitting an instrument that we feel may fit the hearing loss better, but it may not be the most cosmetically acceptable to the prospective patient. The consultation may end with one of the many stall objections. Either the prospective patient goes without the help he/she needs or goes to a competitor and buys the little hearing aid no one can see. If we fit a BTE on trial and a competitor promises the patient good hearing with a CIC, guess what happens? Although you may be rightyou may have lost another patient.
The Vanity Objection is usually easy to overcome if you know it exists. If 100 hearing-impaired people walked by a table on which you had a BTE, ITE, ITC, and a CIC, and you asked them to pick which aid they would rather wear, which one do you think they would pick?
Imagine four people talking about hearing aids. One wears a BTE, another wears an ITC, the third wears a CIC, and the fourth is a prospect seeking information. More often than not, the referral would end up at the office where the CIC was fitted. Selling people who are hearing-impaired what they dont want to wear is like rolling a rock up hill; it never gets easy and its always futile.
The I Want to Check My Insurance First Objection
Know which insurance program will pay for what. Help the patient receive any benefit he has coming. It usually takes a phone call to the insurance company.
If you know the patients insurance will not pay anything, say Lets look it up in our insurance schedule. After you look it up, you say: With that insurance, you save $XXX. You must, of course, set up your companys Insurance Discount Schedule. Your price must include funds to cover an insurance discount and still make an acceptable profit. Then list every known type of insurance followed by a discount amount.
When the patient asks, Will Medicare or AARP help? You say Lets look it up in our Insurance Discount Schedule. Medicare doesnt pay anything; however, if you have your Medicare or AARP card, we can save you $XXX. You then use the Assumptive and Easy-Question Motivators.
Ask most people if they have trouble making a decision, and theyll answer, Well, yes and no. If they do decide yes, then theyll think they should have decided no, and vice versa. This is especially true for seniors who have hearing problems and may feel insecure. Often, the one who made decisions in the long-time marriage is deceased. The living spouse may fear making a bad decision and will constantly change his/her mind.
Whenever a new patient exhibits signs of decision remorse at the time of purchase, its wise to counsel him or her about worrying. I say it this way: Now, I want you to go home and forget all about this until we call you to come for delivery. I dont want you to worry at all. Just remember that if you dont hear well at time of delivery, you will receive every penny of your money back, and it will cost you nothing. So, dont worry, OK? If a friend or family member disagrees with your decision, then just bring them with you at the time of delivery. I will be happy to explain your test results and demonstrate how well you will hear with your new hearing aids.
Explaining Binaural Hearing
If a prospective patient with a bilateral hearing loss expresses interest in only one hearing aid, it is important to explain the advantages of binaural hearing. If we fit a bilateral loss with a monaural fitting, we havent solved the hearing problem. We have just given the patient a different type of hearing problem.
If the prospective patient should ask, Can I wear just one? the best answer is a simple no. When an explanation is needed, use the picture of the head for a visual and [explain how the brain processes sound, and speech in particular, then provide them with information like this]:
It is difficult for you to hear and understand sounds coming from the left side of our head with the right ear. Wearing just one hearing aid would leave you with one poor hearing side. If you were listening to one person with one aided ear, youll hear pretty well. But if there were more than one person speaking or background noise, all of the sound, like water, will take the course of least resistance and travel to the aided ear.
You may have noticed this happening when you are listening to the radio. If you have one speaker a little lower than the other, it sounds as though one speaker is off. With one hearing aid, it will be confusing and difficult to understand in a number of places, such as parties and while driving with the window down. We hear better when our hearing is balanced.
When we fit both ears, we get a bonus, called stereophonic fusion of sound. Stereophonic fusion gives a natural fullness to sound that is unattainable with one-ear hearing. With two-ear hearing, neither instrument needs to be turned up as loud, which helps us hear and understand better in noise. As a result of triangulation, which is possible only when both ears are fitted, we can detect the direction from where sounds are coming. Your two ears work together. Because your ears hear differently, they gather different pieces of information. When your brain puts it all together, the hearing you receive is better than the total of two individual ears.
To fit one hearing aid on a person with a two-ear hearing loss would be a little like having two broken legs and only fixing one. You wouldnt do that, would you? I have found it is difficult to improve on how we were created. To get the best results, we need to use all of your residual hearing, which requires two ears. Does that make sense to you?
When using a master hearing aid, or demonstrating with live aids to show how two-ear hearing is better, which ear do you fit first? Left ear, right ear, better ear, poorer ear? Does it matter? If you turn on the better ear first, and then add the poorer ear, the prospective patient may say, I dont hear much difference. But if you turn on the poorer ear first, and then add the better ear, the prospective patient will say, Boy, I sure hear better with two.
What a person perceives is what that person believes.
This text was adapted with permission from The Book on Dispensing Hearing Aids, by Roy Bain and InfoQuest, San Diego, Calif, 2005.
|Roy Bain has been a dispensing professional and educator in the hearing care field for over 45 years. Growing up in Gonzales, Calif, his family traveled the roads with migrant farmers. He entered the retail hearing aid business (as it was called then) at age 20 and became a millionaire by age 35. In the 1970s, he founded Nu-Ear, which was later purchased by Starkey Laboratories.|
Correspondence can be addressed to Roy Bain, AudioCare, 3455 Camino Del Rio South, San Diego, CA 92108; email: [email protected] To find out how you can get a copy of The Book on Dispensing Hearing Aids, contact Roy Bain at (800) 974-4100.