Perception is crucial within our profession, do you manage the perception of you and your Practice?
We deal in a profession which is neither here nor there, we sell products, but the greatest contribution we give is probably service based. Products in the traditional sense are tangible. You tend to be able to see them, feel them and usually sample or test drive them before you make a purchase decision. Services, on the other hand, are not. It’s only after you have received a service that you really can decide if you like it. It is only then that you know if it is what you envisaged or expected. More importantly perhaps for our Patients, it is only then that they can decide if it will solve their problem or produce the results that they are looking for.
In our profession the saying that people do business with people they know, like and trust is a truism. In fact it is probably more true in our profession than possibly any other profession which involves sales. It is the perception that we build in our prospect Patients that allows them to do business with us. With this in mind, here are a couple of strategies that you should consider for deployment in your Practice.
One of my original trainers used to say “Put your game face on” or “Keep it in the box”. I have to admit I giggled a lot at him but what he was saying makes perfect sense. When dealing with your Patients you need to be Inspiring. How you come across and relate to a Patient will be the difference between a test no sale and a sale. You need to be genuine, positive and enthusiastic when dealing with Patients. You need to display confidence and belief in yourself and what you have to offer. Be careful though that confidence is not viewed as conceit or arrogance. No matter what is going on in life, you need to leave it at home and put your game face on. Your prospective Patients will hopefully find you inspiring and an attractive and trustworthy person to do business with.
I have said it before and no doubt I will say it again. Encourage referrals and word-of-mouth business in your Practice. The best way to do this is to encourage a culture of advocacy in your existing Patients. In order to do this you need to deliver high levels of customer service. Then all you need to do is regularly ask for referrals from your existing Patients. They will pay you back tenfold. You also should actively refer your Patients to other professionals whenever possible. This strategy will help grow your referral network and encourage the people you’ve referred business to, to look out for business to refer to you. One word of warning, if you want your Patients to talk about you, you better give them something to talk about.
You should look closely at strategic alliances with other professionals in your locality. Create relationships with other business owners who have a similar target market. Approach them and ask them are they interested in a mutually beneficial agreement. This agreement can be just a reciprocal arrangement to refer their customers to each others business when there is an opportunity. Or your alliance can be deeper, where joint marketing activities and crossover use of customer database can be leveraged.
You have to positively absolutely maximise your online opportunities, no excuses, no I’ll get to that, no but our demographic doesn’t use the net. Having a superior, well designed, SEOd within an inch of its life and maintained online presence not only gives you credibility as a Practice, it will reduce your marketing bill. Although people still rely on recommendations from family, friends and colleagues when choosing a service provider, a ‘Google’ or other online search is singularly the most popular way people do their own research to help them choose among service providers and product offerings. You need to be there and you need to be best dressed, you also need to be in the organic rankings, not the paid ones.
Think strongly about local activities that you can take part in or leverage. Press releases to local papers are an effective way to get word out and educate the marketplace about your services or areas of expertise. The key is that there has to be a story, this is not an advertorial. Think strongly about a story worth talking about then write and distribute your own press release detailing your breakdown and thoughts on that story. Think carefully about speaking opportunities in your locality. Sharing your expertise with others through speaking is a really strong way to be more visible and to demonstrate your credibility to potential Patients. People are more likely to remember who you are once they’ve seen you speak at an event. Speaking of local papers, explore the possibilities for you to write a column. This will quickly label you an expert in your field in your locality.
Something that we tend to be bad at is follow up, when you see a Patient and they don’t make a purchase what do you do? Mail them a year later for their annual hearing test? What about mailing them three weeks later with a report of their test and your recommendations? what about mailing them at three months saying that you are really sorry that you could not assist them this time but if they have any queries not to hesitate to contact you? The you can send them their twelve month hearing test recall. After meeting a potential Patient ensure that you follow up.