In any system, if you don’t bring in more than you put out, the system will die.

Let’s paint a picture.

John Smith loves helping people. John has personal experience with addiction and wants to use his experience to help others. He decides to open a treatment center to provide the best treatment he can to those who need it. John spends all of his time and energy into hiring the best professionals, the most glamorous facility and executing the finest treatment plan. John is on a role!

The problem is that he forgot one crucial step. In order for him to keep his employees paid, his lights on, and his life mission fulfilled, he needs to find people to help. There are millions of people who need help with addiction and no sign of it slowing down. However, this does not mean that clients are going to come knocking on John’s door.

Getting traffic to your site and phone calls coming in is half the battle. If you are unable to “sell” your treatment facility to those who are in need of help, they will go somewhere else. Why are you special? How are you going to help this person find the path to sobriety and get his or her life back?

If you miss this important step, then all of your other hard work will count for nothing. You must be able to convert your leads to clients… here is how.

The Sandler Submarine



The Sandler Sales System is outlined in detail in his book You Can’t Teach A Kid To Ride A Bike At A Seminar. It is a book that changed the way I approach sales, and can translate to any industry. I recommend reading it.

Here’s how it works…

Step One – Create Bonding Rapport

Simple enough. However, you must understand that there is a language of addiction. For this reason, we recommend having phone reps who are experienced with addiction.


Your reps must be able to create a rapport with the inbound call. If you are speaking with a family member or the afflicted individual themselves, there must be a level of comfort between the two. If the person on the other end of the phone doesn’t feel connected, then the call will be short and will result in nothing.

Step one is about creating comfort. You must speak their language.

Step 2 – Up Front Contracts

To most people, this may seem counter-intuitive.

The Sandler System suggests being upfront about the end game. Many times, reps take a long time on the phone with a prospective client without ever reaching an end game. The idea is after the rapport phase, you want to be up front about the reason for the conversation.

You don’t have to sound rude or arrogant, the point is to state the obvious. You may say something like this…

“Now, I will take the time to explain the facility to you, but I only ask one thing. By the end of this conversation, I would like you to either tell me yes or no. Is that a commitment you can make?”

Nothing is worse than a “maybe” or a “let me think about it I will call you back.” All that time you spent with this indecisive prospect, you could have spent with someone else who is serious about getting help.

This is not a pressure sale, this is not meant to come across as forceful. The idea is that this person called because they need help. They are calling because they have a problem, so why be subliminal about it?

They need help, you want to help them. Get a commitment from them to at least give you an answer. If they can not make that commitment, then they aren’t serious about solving their addiction problem.

3 – Address The Pain Points

Why is this person calling you? They are in some kind of pain, and they need you to solve their problem.

We work with highly ethical facilities that want nothing more than to help people and their families solve their addiction problem. The person on the other end of the phone wants this too.

There are few things more painful than addiction. This person is dying (sometimes literally) for someone to reach out and help them. Your reps need to address these pain points.

What is the pain this person is feeling? What kind of pain are they in? How can you help?

It’s that simple. Address the pain points in these conversations,  more importantly, how is your facility going to make this pain go away?

Step 4 – Budgeting

Maybe your treatment facility accepts cash pay, or maybe it accepts insurance policies. Regardless, treatment costs money and this is something that needs to be addressed.

Again, there is no manipulation required. There shouldn’t be any “sales tactics” or any mincing of words. Ask politely for their insurance information. If they are paying with cash, be up front and honest about how much it will cost.

Side Note – Naturally, you will come across instances where people don’t have insurance. This is unfortunate and hopefully, we as a country can solve this issue.  One day I hope that we can develop a system in which no addict is denied treatment because of finances.  Until  that day comes, we do the best we can.

If finances hold a potential client back from admitting into your facility, do the right thing and take some time to find them resources. There are state-run facilities that could help, there are welfare facilities that could offer help. In these cases, take some time and help that person out the best you can. It’s the right thing to do.  

Step 5 – Decision

This is where the rubber meets the road. This is where the upfront contract comes into play. If you are this far into the system and the prospect still feels they have the capacity to back out, it’s because you did a poor job of establishing an upfront contract.


By this point is the system, you should know the prospects pain points and should have addressed them. You should have gone through the budget and verified their insurance or established a cash pay agreement. Now it’s time to book the flight.

We know from experience that addiction causes irrational behavior. It may behoove you to solidify the decision with another person who can hold the person accountable on their word to come to treatment.

When a flight is booked or a bed is being held and the prospect never shows up at the airport, no one wins. Not the prospect, not their family, not you, not anyone. The decision process must be made and clearly understood. Getting a verbal commitment is the difference between a new admit and a potential life saved  than a no show at the airport.

Step 6 – Fulfillment

This couldn’t be any more straight forward.

This person is coming to your facility for help. So help them. Provide the best treatment you possibly can. Live up to your word and fulfill your promises. If you are selling your service, and not providing adequate service, then you don’t deserve to be in business and your facility will eventually dissolve.

The best way to grow your business  is to help people. The more people you help and the better your success rates, the better reputation you will build. Building a reputation is critical and a good reputation will become your greatest acquisition asset.

Help people!

7 – Post Sell

The post sale can not be understated. People truly appreciate the follow-up. They want to know that you care about their future  and that you want to see them live a happy and sober life.

We equate the post-sale into an alumni program. Keeping in touch with your graduated clients will build your branding as well as lead to organic referral admits.

One Last Point To Keep In Mind

The reason that the Sandler Sales System is shaped like a submarine is because you should never go backward.

The example Sandler uses in the book comes from a movie. Men are in a submarine and it gets hit by a torpedo. The compartments are flooding so they are sealing the compartments off. Once they close a compartment, you can never go backward and open that compartment back up.

The same applies to this system. You want to be sure to adequately complete every step so that you never return. The most common problem is that people fail to make an upfront contract, and therefore, end up coming back to it after the budgeting step.

Don’t do this… only move forward and be sure to completely finish each step in the system.

Go Do It And Go Do It Now!!!

This system requires being proactive. It will be uncomfortable at first for your reps to adopt the system because it goes against many ideas they may have thought to be true. However, if your reps are trained properly, the Sandler System is guaranteed to increase your conversion rates.

The fact is that treatment requires resources, and without admits, you will have none. Are you going to rest on your laurels, or are you going to be proactive with your admissions?

What are you going to do?

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    Tim Stoddart

    Tim Stoddart is the CEO of Stodzy Internet Marketing. He lives in Nashville with his wife and hit adorable pitbull, Alice. Tim loves to write about digital marketing and personal growth. You can learn more at

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