Thursday Thoughts: What Do You Do Every Day? | Modern Manual Therapy Blog - Manual Therapy, Videos, Neurodynamics, Podcasts, Research Reviews

Thursday Thoughts: What Do You Do Every Day?

“If the business you are in requires you to deal with people, then you, my friend, are in sales” Zig Ziglar
What do we do every day? I posed this question to a continuing education class of thirty, mostly new-grad physiotherapists and I got the usual responses: exercise, mobilize, educate. However, I was looking for one answer in particular: SELL! I wrote on this topic previously back in February: ( But with the holiday season upon us, I thought an update was due.
In the previous post, I commented on my personal discomfort with the concept of “selling,” partly because of the historical stigma of sales as the convincing of people to purchase something that they don’t really want or need– like that extended warranty from Best Buy for that new flat-screen TV you just bought. I viewed physical therapy as something people NEED as opposed to something they WANT. You shouldn’t have to sell a starving person food. You’re in pain, I’m a physio. It just makes sense. Wrong!
The public perception of physical therapy makes our “selling” of what we do all the more important. Despite our desire for otherwise, physical therapy in this country is still viewed as ultrasound, hot packs, massage, and stretching. We’ve heard phrases like PT = “pain and torture” all too often.  Daniel Pink, author of To Sell is Human, and recent guest on The Therapy Insiders Podcast (, and speaker at the Private Practice Section Meeting last month in Orlando, conducted a survey in which he asked “what percentage of your work involves persuading people to give up something they value in return for something you have?” The average response was 41%. I imagine that if we did the same query among all physios, the percentage would be much lower. However, among physios on Twitter, the number would likely be even higher.
Pink even highlights physical therapists in his discussion of the role of sales in health care:
“A physical therapist helping someone recover from injury needs that person to hand over resources–again, time, attention, and effort–because doing so, painful though it can be, will leave the patient healthier than if he’d kept the resources to himself.”
What do patients want to know when they come to physical therapy: “What’s wrong?” “How long will it take? and “How much will it cost?” If we’re able to answer these questions effectively, it will go a long way towards building trust, setting expectations, and helping the buy-in from the patient. However, there’s also another critical element that us physios often fall short with– our own mindset. During an interview also on the Therapy Insiders Podcast, private practice owner Jamey Schrier (@JameySchrier) emphatically stated: 
“We have to first (ourselves) value what we are providing in order to convince others to purchase it.”
Sales is easier when you believe in the product you’re selling. Could part of the problem with selling physiotherapy be that a large number of us subconsciously don’t actually believe in what we’re doing?  Aren’t we also familiar with the phrase, “PTs make the worst patients?” How many of us have had colleagues that are just as guilty as our patients of looking for that “quick fix?” When I teach weekend CE courses, over half the class usually requires some level of PT themselves. Yet, rarely, if ever, are they actively seeking treatment from colleagues, or regularly doing their own self-management. If we can’t practice what we preach, how can we expect our patients to follow suit?
To make an honest sale you need to believe in yourself, and you need to believe in your product or service. You must genuinely believe that you are helping someone do what is right for them. Not selling, but helping people to buy”– Laurence Enderson
Maybe we need another word instead of “sales.” Despite recent efforts, the word is often perceived as synonymous with “coerce.” We already educate. Pink uses the phrase “moving people.” But I like “demonstrating value.” Instead of worrying about making a “sale” with every patient, maybe it’s easier to think about demonstrating value. It’s basically what we should already be doing. Value, of course, is relative to each individual. The trick is figuring out how to meet the wants and needs of each. As Larry Ferlazzo, a high school teacher, so eloquently stated,
It means trying to elicit from people what their goals are for themselves and having the flexibility to frame what we do in that context.”
Physical therapy has value. Physical therapy changes lives. Daniel Pink writes,
“A healthy and educated population is a public good, something that is valuable in it’s own right and from which we all benefit.” 
So, what do you do every day?
As always, thanks for reading. Comments and discussion welcome.

Interested in live cases where I apply this approach and integrate it with pain science, manual therapy, repeated motions, IASTM, with emphasis on patient education? Check out Modern Manual Therapy!

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