By Nichole Kingham This article is a part of the November/December, Volume 34, Number 6, Audiology Today issue. About seven years into my audiology career, I had the privilege and the great luck to join a vibrant private practice. I came from a corporate background where everything was numbers and sales based. I found this business model wasn’t my style, but I did learn a heck of a lot about business development and sales. The first lesson was that sales wasn’t a four-letter word—it was five. And all joking aside, getting past that roadblock in my thinking helped me move forward and discover how to talk with patients in a way that helped them talk back. After about 10 years on staff at the private practice, I had my sales process down to a science and the clinic was enjoying great success. However, I was about to make the biggest mistake of my career. We had grown to 1,300 active patients with hearing aids and year-over-year profit growth. I was pretty confident in the way we had chosen to provide patient care. Because it worked so well, I thought I could teach anyone the process and they would be just as successful in helping patients choose better hearing. We were running strong with two full-time dispensing audiologists, and I was ready to help the clinic grow again. I pushed to hire another audiologist in preparation for that growth. During the interview process for the audiologist who would become our newest staff member, I requested that she show me her consultation method. She reviewed the audiogram beautifully. She explained technology levels and form factors with ease. Her style was very similar to mine, and I knew, with a few tweaks, she’d be a star. We started off slowly, talking about how to use the Client-Oriented Scale of Improvement (COSI) (Dillon et al, 1997), how to deal with objections, and how to use a silent close. I then sat back and waited to watch her be successful. I mean, why shouldn’t she be? She was using techniques that were time-tested to help counsel patients about their hearing loss. But then her help rate (or close rate) came in. It was less than 40 percent. As a result, we discussed her consultation process again, and everything was perfect. She did everything right. What had happened? It was absolutely mind-blowing, and I could not figure it out. I thought, “Well, she’s only been here a little while; she just needs to find her niche and get comfortable.” Afterward, I talked myself and our director into “giving her a couple of months.” Six months later, her help rate was still volatile. She would have a great month, and then the next month it would be 20 percent. It was aggravating, frustrating, and confidence shaking—for both of us. I started reading and asking questions of my mentors. I then read more and began thinking about my process. It dawned on me—if the process is the same, then the delivery must be different. I broke down my process step-by-step, and I found that every time I was with a patient for a consultation, I started with my story. I then wondered, “What is her story? Why did she become an audiologist? Why did she want to help people hear? What was her goal in being an audiologist? What was her five-year plan?” I had never asked her. The next day, I sat with her and asked, “So, tell me your story.” Her answer was, “I don’t have one.” I had to help her find her story. Everyone has one—the thing that keeps you coming to work every day. This content is an exclusive benefit for American Academy of Audiology members. If you're a member, log in and you'll get immediate access. Member Login If you're not yet a member, you'll be interested to know that joining not only gives you access to top-notch resources like this one, but also invitations to member-only events, inclusion in the member directory, participation in professional forums, and access to patient resources, tools, and continuing education. Join today!