Handling Objections – What To Do When The Client Says No

Asking a client for money is one of the most difficult parts of our job. It may feel insensitive to ask clients to spend money when they are concerned or distressed about their pet’s well-being. It doesn’t have to be this way!

I genuinely believe that if we recommend treatments that are in the best interests of our patients then our passion and authenticity will shine through. By demonstrating care, empathy and flexibility we will not only maintain our trusted client relationships, but we will strengthen them.

We may not always gain commitment for all of our recommendations, but being able to meet the client halfway is preferable to having them walk away feeling pressured or guilty, or even going elsewhere. When a client says “no” the first time it may simply be that they need more information before they commit.

Honesty is the best policy

Authenticity comes from that part inside of you that genuinely cares about patient advocacy. It’s what made you want to become a veterinarian or a nurse in the first place, right?

How often have you been asked, “what would you do if it was your pet?”

We can’t tell them what to do, but having all of the facts helps clients to make informed decisions. I recently had to make some end of life decisions for my 14-year-old cattle dog Ollie. The veterinarian gave me the science behind her findings but she also gave me her honest opinion. I will be forever grateful for that advice.

Offer options

Have a plan B, or provide best-case and worst-case scenarios. 

Starting a course of treatment, evaluating progress and communicating with your client along the way will help to gain trust. People feel more in control when they have choices. 

Doing something for the patient is better than doing nothing at all. 

Find solutions to problems

Some of the most common objections I hear include:

“I can’t afford that”

“It’s just old age”

“I have to talk to my partner”

“I will brush my dog’s teeth at home”

These responses don’t always mean no. They are often a request for more information or the client is asking how we can solve a problem. If we don’t offer solutions and alternatives, then we are doing the client and the patient a disservice.  

Normalise and Reassure

Let the client know that it’s ok to feel this way and that lots of other pet owners have the same concerns. 

Try these:

“I can’t afford that”

That’s ok. Beyond the initial consult fee, we won’t add on any charges without your approval. We’ll provide a printed estimate for Fluffy’s treatment recommendations which you can take home and consider with your family. We also have payment plans available. Would that help?

“It’s just old age”

A lot of pet owners think that. It’s true that you may see changes in your pet’s physical health and behaviour as they get older. However old age is not a disease in itself. Many conditions can be treated and we can help to minimise pain and discomfort for your pet.

“I have to talk to my partner”

That’s fine – we understand if you’d like to talk it over with your family. It’s a big decision. I will email you some information that you can look over together and then call us if you have any questions.

“I will brush my dog’s teeth at home”

It’s great that you are taking the time to keep Fluffy’s teeth clean with brushing. It’s not always easy to do! Brushing will help to prevent future build-up of plaque and tartar, however Fluffy now has quite severe dental disease and he may require extractions. The only way to see what is really going on is to do a full examination and dental x-ray under anaesthetic.

Give them time

Nobody likes to be pressured into a decision, and of course we don’t want to come across like a pushy used car salesperson!

If we have given them all the information they need to make an informed decision then it’s ok to let them go. Offer to follow up with a phone call or email later to see if they have any questions or if they would like to proceed with a booking.

Asking clients for money doesn’t come naturally when our primary role is that of care-giver. 

Hearing “no” can feel like a personal rejection. However if we stop at the first objection then our client may walk away with unanswered questions and the patient is subsequently denied treatment.

Be your true, authentic self. Your conversations will feel more natural and your clients will see you as a genuine, trusted adviser who is willing to take the time to explain options and provide solutions. Every “no” brings you closer to a “yes”.