Share this article on:

First Person: What Buying a Truck Taught Me about Selling Hearing Aids

Jacobson, Wayne BC-HIS

doi: 10.1097/01.HJ.0000452250.37945.71

Mr. Jacobson has spent 37 years in the hearing aid industry and 32 years in private practice, and is the author of The Professional's Guide to Selling Hearing Aids. Since 2008, he has contracted as a practice development consultant and done open house promotions around the United States.



Many hearing healthcare patients will say “no” to your initial device offer, regardless of the price. Some are just testing you to see how you will handle the response or how committed you are to solving their hearing problem.



Others will say they want to think about it just to keep from making a decision. It is easier to do nothing than it is to spend $6,000.

Here's something to keep in mind when you are tempted to hand over a brochure and let the patient think about it: A recent survey of 500 people who had their hearing tested but were not sold a device revealed that only three percent ended up going back to the first practice that tested them. This means that 97 percent of the “be-backs” will not really be back.

When patients say “no,” they are really asking for more information. I recently was on the receiving end of such a situation.

Back to Top | Article Outline


I was in the market for a one-ton, four-by-four diesel pickup truck. Being the conservative type, I wanted to buy a recently used rig instead of paying $50,000 to $60,000 for a brand-new one.

Unfortunately, the first truck I looked at was the perfect one. Not having a point of comparison, however, I did not know how good it was.

The truck was loaded with everything that I wanted and that could be included, and it only had 40,000 miles on it. (These diesel trucks are good for at least 250,000 miles.) After trading in my pickup, which was 6 years old, well equipped, and in great shape, I would have to pay an additional $19,000.

I really liked the truck, but I did not want to cave in on their first offer. I thought that a $17,000 difference would be a good figure. After dickering awhile, they came down to $18,500, and I came up to $18,000. We were at an impasse.

The reason I wanted the diesel truck is that I was planning to get a fifth-wheel trailer and, in my semiretirement, start traveling more. This truck already had a fifth-wheel hitch installed. Something I was not aware of is that it cost between $1,200 and $1,500 to get a fifth-wheel hitch and install it.

At this point, I figured I would just leave and let the dealer stew over my offer for the weekend. My plan backfired; I got a call the next day that the truck sold.

Unfortunately for me, my salesman was not a very good salesman. He already knew that money was not the problem; I could write a check for anything on the lot.

Instead of building value and raising the value above the price, he accepted my “no” and let me walk. What he should have done was point out that the fifth-wheel hitch was worth $1,500 by itself, and that alone would bring the price down to the $17,000 difference I wanted to pay.

At that point, all I needed was an excuse to pay more than my artificial top price. The extra $1,500 value probably would have done that.

He also could have broken the situation down to a bite-size price difference, asking me, “Wayne, how long do you plan to own this truck?” I would have said 10 to 20 years.

Then, he could have said something like this: “Let's take the shortest time frame, 10 years. We are only $500 apart on price, so that is only $50 more per year than you want to pay.

“The difference works out to less than 14 cents per day for this truck, which features everything you want. Would it be worth 14 cents a day to have exactly what you want and not have to keep shopping?”

Back to Top | Article Outline


Either of the arguments probably would have pushed me over the edge, and I would have bought the truck right then. He would have built enough extra value and given me the excuse I needed to buy the first truck I saw. I did end up buying a similar truck a few weeks later, but it was two years older and had 15,000 more miles on it.

The first dealer ended up selling the truck, so whether it was sold to me or to someone else did not make a difference to the dealer. But I, the customer, was the ultimate loser. Since the salesman failed to be more persistent, provide additional information, or give me more excuses to proceed, I ended up with an older truck and had to drive more than 400 miles to get it.

It is the same situation with our patients. If you accept their “no” without providing more information and giving more reasons—or, even better, an excuse to accept your offer—the patient is the ultimate loser.

Keep in mind that you do not have to reduce the price to get the value to surpass it. Your knowledge, skill, and follow-up services all have value. Warranties and the batteries you provide have value. Value can be built without discounting the price.

If you accept the “no,” the patient will probably go elsewhere for a second opinion and may end up buying an inferior product or receiving inferior service, all because you were not persistent enough to help with the patient's hearing problem.

If patients walk out of your office not hearing any better than when they came in, you have not accomplished anything. You have not fulfilled your professional duty and responsibility to help your patients, and you may have contributed to their getting something that will not completely satisfy their needs and desires.

We owe it to our patients to be more persistent and not accept the first artificial objection we get. By answering and overcoming a couple of objections, you can turn a “no” into a win-win situation: Your patients get better hearing, and you get the immediate business, as well as the chance for future referrals after you make the patients happy.

© 2014 by Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.