Are you missing those key signs that have kept you from increasing your medical practice’s profits? You need to learn more effective principles for tapping into your patient’s buying signals!
In the daily rush of building and maintaining a successful medical practice, we often miss those subtle signs that transform a practice from merely surviving to one that is thriving! Too often we miss those vital signs that each of our patients send off that determine their specific purchase cycles, and transforms a medical practice’s profits.
Traditionally, the generally accepted formula of building a lucrative practice has consisted in putting your head down and grinding from morning ’til night, and repeat the following day.
Well, that’s one method…
However, a superior plan for reaching success comes with learning how to identify where each current patient and future patients lays within their own unique buying cycle which increase a medical practice’s profits — below are eight effective business strategies that will increase your practice’s profitability; but more importantly, they will build deeper and better patient relationships.
According to Sales and Marketing Magazine, nearly 80% of all people who inquire about medical procedures take action within one year (emergencies not withstanding). Interestingly enough, they seldom do business with the practice they originally contacted. This means you (the practice owner) are educating your prospects to do business with your competition.
Why does this occur? Often it is because the contact person (aka: the gate keeper) at the medical office defaulted on their responsibility of influencing the prospective patient. Very often it’s passively assumed said prospect will remain loyal to their practice because they provided friendly service; instead, besides being friendly, they need to do everything possible to make sure they actively influenced these prospects to do business with them… No one is teaching these gate keepers how to engage that future patient with confidence building questions!
Ironically, both the problem and the solution can be found in the same place. In fact, many medical practices find themselves falling into one of two mindsets seems that are perpetually be in play: 1) Either the practice develops some sort of an unwritten, collective philosophy that all prospective patients share the same qualities, interests, needs, lifestyles, and time-lines, etc. Or, 2) It never occurs to them that each patients needs are ever evolving in their purchasing cycles.
It goes without saying that either of these levels of “observation” can have disastrous affects on both their individual income and leisure time, and the total prosperity of the practice!
What if you knew exactly when a patient was in the market for another procedure? How valuable would it be, for example, if your patient told you when they joined a gym or sports team so you could ease their aches and pains? The sooner the practice begins to qualify it’s current, past, and prospective patients and take actions accordingly, the better off the owners of the practice will be!
Incidentally, now would be an excellent time to stress that what is being proposed should in no way be perceived as a suggestion to “pimp” unneeded or unwanted services; however, with proper awareness and dialog of a patient’s life, there may be many opportunities to provide necessary and timely services for your patients that they may not of known about or considered, for example: If you provide adjustments for tension relief, it wouldn’t be unrealistic to offer migraine treatments, sports massage and/or adjustments, or pregnancy massage, etc. — all this depends on the patients lifestyle; but, if the practice doesn’t know about their patients, then the patient may never know that these services are available, or suitable treatment options for them.
I. KNOW YOUR PATIENTS BETTER: Have the entire office learn how to engage with all their patients (past, present, and future) in safe, non-intrusive, friendly, comfortable conversations. Get to know them, find out about their lives, their interests, upcoming events, what they do for a living, etc.
* It just comes down to good open-end questions that lead to trust and casual conversation.
II. FINE-TUNE THE INFORMATION YOU HAVE GATHERED: The information must now be transformed from simple raw data into a profitable patient pool of knowledge.
At this stage a shift in viewpoint is required, from one of simply influencing your current and prospective patients to do business with you immediately, to learning how to service the patient at every phase of the patient/doctor selling cycle. In essence, a transfer occurs in your mode of contacting patients, from reaching out when you are ready to provide your medical service, to one of being in the right-place at the exact time your patient will be looking for their next procedure.
The cornerstone of the patient cycle principle is the premise that you are committing to a long-term relationship with your patients! Everything that you do and suggest to these patients is done in the spirit of THEIR benefit!
In turn and in time, trust begins to build; your patients will begin to volunteer the circumstances in their unique situations and changing colors of their lives.
III. DEVELOPING YOUR PATIENT RELATIONSHIPS/SELLING CYCLE: Before a practice can engage in a structured patient buying cycle marketing game-plan, every practice must first create a lead generation system!
* A lead generation system is the practice of soliciting inquiries from potential patients with the primary goal of ensuring that the practice’s pipeline of present and future patients continually remains full. Lead generation is always the first step of the sales process, and by default business success, both quality and quantity are important factors.
Once your lead generation system is in place, you (again as the practice owner) can now begin tracking and recognizing that each patient enters your lead generation system at different times and with different levels of need.
Therefore, you need to do two things in order to assess your patient. You need to qualify and quantify each patient in order to immediately categorize their level of need and your level of intervention.
IV. QUANTIFY YOUR PATIENTS: The patient selling cycle allows the practice owner to quantify their patients according to their levels of the immediacy of need. Accordingly, you will employee a scale of 0 to 5 (5 being best). Said again, a patient who has an immediate need and ability to take action quickly should be given much more attention, sooner, than someone who is just looking.
- You will create a patient profile inventory, based on important topics covering such topics as: their personal situations, potential time-lines and need.
- You will list their information into categories and subcategories,
- You will then assign the highest values to those patients with immediate needs, and then work down from there.
However, it is important to note that your ultimate goal is to have your prospect rate as highly as possible in each of the categories listed below that would demonstrate an immediate buying need.
Set up a contact program for with each group that breaks down all your prospects into categories of: Immediate need, 1-2 months, 3-5 months, 6 months on. Again, it is important to identify your prospect as quickly as possible.
As we cover additional points, it is important to keep in mind that what we are discussing is business growth and prosperity. Some doctors shy away from the ideas of selling, prospecting, and psychographics; I get it, you are medical providers, not sales people. You are healers and not solicitors. However, every business school in world teaches that for a business to be successful, there must be a steady stream of new clients.
Using the selling cycle principles gives you a disciplined way to evaluate each patient’s need, rank them accordingly, provide services for those with an immediate need, and graduate the others up the ladder of need order in to provide additional services.
V. UNDERSTANDING THE QUALITY OF EACH YOUR PATIENTS: Not all patients are created equal! Now that you understand about quantifying your patients, you will need to go one step further.
You must understand that your best future patients are your past and current patients. These patients represent a rich pool of people who know you, like you, and trust you.
The sooner you understand their buying cycles, the quicker you will benefit by increased receivables (aka, your medical practice’s profits). However, the cornerstone of this entire system of practice development is cemented in the philosophy and power of comprehending the lifetime value of your patient.
Categorize patients an into easily formatable matrix, such as an A, B and C, for example:
- An “A” prospect has both an immediate need and ability to take action. This would be your best prospect. This prospect would also score in the our range of 24-30 (adding the combined score from the various subcategories of quantification list illustrated earlier).
- A “B” prospect will need your services within three to six months—put them on a steady contact list with e-mails, newsletters, etc., so that you will stay in front of them. They would be scoring between 18-23 points.
- A “C” prospect is interested in contracting your services, but has no immediate time-line for doing business in mind. They would be scoring between 10-17 points. You’ll want to keep in contact on a quarterly basis.
Notice that we don’t discard the patients that cannot do anything right away. By cultivating the remaining patients until they are ready, you develop a rich pool of future clients.
In other words, you should keep regular contact with these patients who already believe in your abilities and professionalism. Please take this to heart; just because someone sought you to heal them from a sports injury or auto accident sustained in the past, doesn’t mean that they will only seek you out again if they have another auto accident or sports injury.
In fact, if you do not stay in touch with these patients, another health care provider will gladly take that patient away and develop a relationship with them! Patients, especially those that have used your type of service in the past, represent the gold standard of ideal prospects. It is reasonable to project that the patients will have additional medical needs; thus, this presents excellent opportunities for the additional services.
However, if haven’t developed a system of continual contact, those opportunities for additional services will be given to some other doctor in the area; and, so too will any referrals that were meant for you. In short, never drop a patient from your contact list!
VI. BUILD A PROGRAM OF CONSISTENCY AND RELEVANCE: Contact your best patients a minimum of eight times per year, preferably twelve times, with strong, pertinent information that speaks to the specific interests of the patient (based on the data they have provided you).
* The points of contacts may include a birthday invitation for a free massage, a quarterly tension adjustment (great for patients with high stress careers), sports treatments for those athletes in your practice, or treatment for osteoporosis, etc.
Like many other professions, health care providers are sharing their fishing hole with a lot of other medical fishermen(women)! In fact, most people have more than one doctor they go to when they need health services.
By consistently contacting your patients with personalized and relevant information, you are developing deeper-quality relationships, and you maximize your opportunity to be the first doctor that comes to mind when your patient is ready for their next treatment. Consistent contact builds a powerful bond of familiarity, trust, and expertise. Remember, your competition is always doing everything they can to get your patient!
Ideally, you will create a situation where your patient would rather do business with you — someone who has consistently provided them valuable information and education.
VII. PROVIDE REAL VALUE TO YOUR PATIENTS: It is also very important to stress that consistency of the contact must go hand-in-hand with the value of the information to the patient. The more frequently you give your current and prospective patients something of real value, the more likely they are to do business with you when they’re ready.
Educating your current and future patients with strong third-party industry case studies, beneficial industry inside information, or even published news sources is an exceptional, as part of your monthly touch points is a noninvasive way to establish yourself as both an expert and someone who genuinely cares about their patients needs and interests.
VIII. IMPLEMENT YOUR PATIENT PURCHASE CYCLE AS A DIAGNOSTIC TOOL: In order to achieve maximum success with your purchase cycle, you must monitor your patient’s status on a regular basis. Therefore, you must be will to move and re-categorize your patients as their needs are met and change. As stated earlier, it is vital to the lifeblood of you practice that you know exactly what the quality of each one of your patients (specifically, their level of intention and interest)!
Caution, caution, caution: Never discriminate against a patient who has moved from an “A” patient to a “C” patient. With proper and timely follow-up, that status can, and often does, change rapidly!
However, if your patients are not making any effort to reach you? If they are not returning your calls, e-mails, or texts in a somewhat of timely manner, say 1-2 weeks (not counting vacations or family emergencies), they may have moved on and see another medical professional who is meeting their needs. At which point, you may have to downgraded their status, or even taken off of your purchase cycle system altogether. In order to achieve true success, you must concentrate your time and effort primarily on “A” and “B” prospects — in that order!
The long-term tracking of patients will streamline your practice! Implementing and consistently using a purchase cycle system will yield a clear and unbiased road map for you to follow in cultivating new patients. You will literally be able to track each patients life up or down the buying cycle list. In this way, you assure yourself that when they are ready to receive your type of services, they will make it with you.
We understand learning and applying these techniques for business growth take time; that is precisely why we are offering a free comprehensive analysis of your current patient development game-plan.
We invite you to learn how Steve and Claudio can help you immediately increase your profits, give them a call at 916.750.6319.
From the desk of Steven Von Loren, direct: 916.750.6319, personal email: firstname.lastname@example.org,