Author Archives: David Saslavsky

Prospecting is Key to Occupational Medicine Sales

Cold calling or prospecting is an often overlooked part of an occupational medicine sales process.  We all want to focus on building relationships with qualified leads and current clients.
Unless your practice has a steady flow of incoming employer leads, gaining new accounts requires consistent prospecting or cold calling.
  • Prospecting is compiling a target list of companies, calling each one, determining the decision maker, and if the decision maker has a need to change providers.
  • Each step can take several calls and several months to complete.

We often find this time-consuming, yet critical step, gets overlooked.

If a corporate accounts manager is working with 200 current accounts, where is the time to find new business? The skill sets of a strong customer service based accounts manager and prospector are different, and it is rare to find people adept at both. Ideally, this should be two separate positions, but this is not realistic for many practices.
The solution is to first recognize that this is a sales process and each step is critical to the success of the next.
We recommend working with your staff to budget time and resources to research, prospecting, and selling.
In our next post, we will analyze the skill set for successful occupational medicine prospecting. This will to identify or hire the right staff member for the job.
WebForDoctors also offers a fully outsourced lead generation program that provides your staff with qualified leads and allows them maximum time building relationships with current clients.

Marketing Insights – Urgent Care Boom Explored by Forbes Magazine

Brian Solomon wrote about the urgent care boom for a recent issue of Forbes magazine, Drive-Thru Health Care: How McDonald’s Inspired An Urgent Care Gold Rush  Solomon shares: “Dr. Bruce Irwin has been in the urgent care business for over 30 years, and he’s never seen anything like the current gold rush. “It’s like we’re in a rock band and all of sudden we have a hit, we’re an overnight sensation. But in reality we’ve been playing in bars and honky-tonks for years.

From a marketing perspective, here are two takeaways:

Urgent care is a retail business.
It is imperative to market your practice as convenient, affordable, quality care.

Prospective patients can receive care for non-acute illnesses and injuries close to their home or office. Starbucks is a great comparison. Starbucks provides a welcoming environment with upscale decor and free wi-fi. Today’s urgent care centers are moving away from the “medical clinic” feel.

The competitive landscape is rapidly changing.
New urgent care centers will be opening everywhere.

How are you positioned if a new urgent care opened on your block? What type of reputation does your practice have in the community or online? A strong SEO foundation with positive online reviews can help stave off competition. Participate in community events. This will help match a face with a business. Bringing kids to an urgent care is not so scary when the parents have already met your staff.

Helping Patients Find Safe Online Health Information

Our clients frequently vent their frustration about the glut of health information online. While there is certainly valuable health information available on the internet, there are also articles geared to sell products, and other information that is just plain wrong. How do your patients separate the truth from fiction? Edward Leigh, founder and director of The Center for Healthcare Communication recently wrote an article with strategies for your patients to “surf safely“.

http://www.kevinmd.com/blog/2013/06/patients-find-information-internet-tips-surf-safely.html

Should Our Urgent Care Center Offer Wi-Fi to Patients?

Alan Ayers wrote a convincing article on the benefits of offering free wi-fi to patients in an urgent care center in the February 2013 issue of The Journal of Urgent Care Medicine. The article offers some great tips for getting started and alleviates privacy concerns.

We always reiterate to our clients that urgent care is a retail business offering high quality medical services. Providing free wi-fi shows that your urgent care center is patient focused and respects people’s time. The urgent care model is based on convenience, but we all know that the best urgent care centers can have wait times over 30 minutes at peak volume times.

Wi-fi allows time-starved people to be productive and not feel that their time in your practice was wasted.  It increases the likelihood of a return visit.

Article: The Journal of Urgent Care Medicine _ WiFi in UC

How to Create an Effective Occupational Medicine Phone Script (Part II)

Please see part I here

A powerful telephone script should achieve three major goals:

a) Find out who the real decision maker is at the prospective company.

Don’t waste your time talking with someone who doesn’t have the power to hire you. Learn about their company’s decision-making process, the financial chain of command. Utilize a series of gently probing questions: How are decisions made about occupational medicine? How often is the issue revisited? Should we include another person on this call?

Keep in mind that this process can take multiple calls, but once you get to the top of the totem pole–to the person who makes the final decision–you can take full control of the message they are hearing, and your ultimate job will become a lot easier.

b) Establish dissatisfaction with their current provider.

Once again, a clever list of questions can subtly introduce an element of doubt in your prospect’s mind about their current occupational medicine provider. What kind of medical services do you require? Are onsite injuries a major concern? Do you have a drug-testing program in place? How important are pre-employment physicals? Once you get them thinking hard about their current quality of service, you can hit them with the big ones: Tell me what is most important to you in your company’s relationship with your medical provider?

A delicate balance of open-ended and closed questions will help create a well-rounded portrait of the client’s priorities. Closed questions require a simple response and revolve around basic facts that will help you learn more about their company without seeming too forward. Add to that a few open-ended questions to elicit more thought-provoking answers–get them talking more candidly and try to draw out their opinions. What is the most important factor in choosing an occupational medicine provider? Be sure to take thorough notes during the call, so that you can then form the most potent and relevant pitch.

c) Make sure there are “next steps” to follow.

Once you establish an interest in your services, however minor it may be, you can start to explain the benefits of a switch. But don’t let them off the hook. Schedule a facility tour or a follow-up meeting. Leave the call with a specific action item in place that requires them to respond directly within a defined period of time–anything from signing a contract to filling out a questionnaire.

WebForDoctors also provides outsourced services for occupational medicine sales, so feel free to contact us if you need additional assistance.

How to Create an Effective Occupational Medicine Phone Script

Unlike urgent care patients, new occupational medicine clients don’t just walk in the door. Most employers already have a provider, and although they may be unhappy with their current provider (poor service, long wait times, poor communication), the path of least resistance is to stay the course.  Therefore, the best method of gaining new occupational medicine clients is to reach out to area employers and let them know that your practice will improve on their existing situation.

Let’s face it: Most people aren’t particularly fond of phone interruptions by a stranger–until they are being offered a service they truly need. That is why it’s so important to take advantage of the small window of opportunity you’re given when a prospective client picks up the phone. For occupational medicine providers like you, having an effective, well-organized script at your disposal might be the difference between a lucrative new client and a quick click on the other line.

Why Do I Need a Script?

 We all know that reading directly from a script is not ideal; in fact, it very often leads to an unsuccessful result. However, sounding jumbled, disorganized and unsure is no better. A script can help keep your pitch on track, providing a basic framework that allows you to maintain focus, be succinct and stay grounded.

In addition, your script should include a list of specific questions to ask your prospects, so that you can extract as much valuable information as possible and tactfully introduce the idea of changing occupational medicine providers. These questions should determine their business’ priorities and gauge their satisfaction with their current provider. What does your current provider do well? Where do they come up short?

It’s also helpful to incorporate sample voicemails in your telephone script. Know ahead of time exactly what you want to say and get right to the point. Keep your tone professional, include industry terminology to demonstrate your expertise in the field and be inquisitive. Let the prospect know that you are very interested in their business and how you can help it to succeed. If you wait for the beep to figure out what to say, you run the risk of rambling.

Remember, you might not always be the one making these kinds of sales calls, so take as much uncertainty as you can out of the equation for your caller. Have all the necessary detail information–hours, location, services–at their fingertips.

 

WebForDoctors also provides outsourced services for occupational medicine sales.

Preparing for an Occupational Medicine Sales/Marketing Campaign

Step 1: Messaging

The goal of an occupational medicine sales campaign is to reach decision-makers at local employers and convince them to switch from their current medical provider to your practice.  Every provider knows that their practice is the best in the area.  This should be easy!

However, there are a couple of major hurdles.  For the employer, change can be scary. Will they end up in a bad situation with a new medical provider? Change almost always creates more work. For the HR representative, is this worth their time?

Most occupational medicine websites have similar information — a list of services that the practice offers.  Most marketing materials (brochures, mailers, etc.) offer the same information.  The industry is hoping the employer will read the list and think, “I need these services.”   Since most practices offer the same or similar services, why should an employer go through the effort to switch providers? As marketers, we need to help create the need for the employer to switch.

Establish dissatisfaction:  As an occupational medicine provider, you should realize your unique strength or value in the marketplace.  Or to rephrase, you need to understand what value you offer that your competitor does not. For example, we find many employers complain that they do not have open communication with the physician treating their employee’s injury. The successful occupational medicine practice needs physicians that understand the needs of the employer as well as the care of the patient.  As we develop the calling script, we will ask questions to determine if poor physician communication is a source of frustration.

Meeting Needs: As a marketer, you need to have a consistent message both internally and externally as to how your unique value meets the needs of the employers. In the example above, we will create a consistent marketing message regarding open communication between employer and physician.  This will include details of how the practice provides communication (i.e., “Our physicians will contact your company representative within 24 hours of initial consultation.”).  It’s imperative that this is communicated to all employees internally as well.

Ideally, you will want at least 3 potential sources of dissatisfaction of your competitors.  If you have not formally discussed this with key staff members, this will prove to be a valuable exercise. You can also get great information from clients that have recently switched from another local provider.  With the messaging established, we can develop a script for telemarketing, which we will address in our next Occ Med blog post.

 

WebForDoctors also provides outsourced services for occupational medicine sales.

Growing Your Occupational Medicine Business

Increasing an occupational medicine patient base requires sales.

The “s” word can cause discomfort for many physicians.  No one wants to think of medical care as being sold like a used car or a time-share.  Unfortunately, those industries  have tarnished sales and made it a nasty word. As a medical provider, you are simply offering employers an opportunity to try your medical care in hopes they find it better than their current provider.  We need to uncover what needs are not being met by their current provider (usually customer service versus quality of care), and demonstrate that we will meet those needs. That is sales.

WebForDoctors recently exhibited at the Urgent Care Association of America’s conference in Chicago. Many owners, physicians and staff members of urgent care centers realize that workers health is a crucial business line, but they could not determine why their patient base was not growing. We found many practices have a “corporate accounts manager” or a “marketing director”. (notice the lack of the word “sales” in the titles) This person is responsible for the day-to-day business needs of up to 200 accounts, gaining new accounts, and as in the case in most  urgent care enters, a myriad of other duties.

Unless your center has a steady flow of incoming employer leads, gaining new accounts requires consistent prospecting. Prospecting is compiling a target list of companies, calling each one, determining the decision maker, and if the decision maker has a need to change providers. Each step can take several calls and several months to complete.

My feeling is this time-consuming, yet critical, step gets overlooked. If a corporate accounts manager is working with 200 current accounts, where is the time to find new business? The skill sets of a strong customer serviced based accounts manager and a prospector are different, and it is rare to find people adept at both. Ideally, this should be two separate positions, but that is not realistic for most centers.

The solution is to first recognize that this is a sales process and each step is critical to the success of the next. We recommend working with your staff to budget time and resources to research, prospecting, and selling.

Over the coming weeks, I will provide a series of tips on developing and implementing a sales strategy to acquire more employer clients for an occupational medicine practice. Topics will include:

Preparation:
What companies are you targeting?  What information do you want to gather from these companies? What information is useful to present about your practice?

Prospecting: Who is the decision maker at a company? In a larger company, how do we reach this person? How do we get and keep their attention? How to leave an effective voicemail.

Relationship Building: Demonstrating to the employer that you understand their needs and can add value to their business.


WebForDoctors also provides outsourced services for occupational medicine sales.

Should we rate physicians like restaurants?

Eric Van De Graaff, M.D.,  a cardiologist in Omaha, recently blogged about the value of all the physician ratings and review websites that are now appearing in online search results.  Overall, Dr. Van De Graaf believes that rating sites could be beneficial to prospective patients but, as of today, the system has two flaws.  I agree with him and will add a marketing perspective to his thoughts.

1.  There is a scarcity of reviews on the medical review sites

Medical review websites such as HealthGrades, DoctorScorecard , Vitals.com, and RateMDs.com, do not offer nearly the same number of reviews or breadth of information as restaurant review sites.  Information is sparse, and the average doctor has 2 reviews.   Furthermore, a recent study of 33 ratings sites showed that 88% of the reviews are positive.  How can this info be helpful to the prospective patient who may be deciding which medical professionals to avoid?

In my opinion, there are 3 factors at play.  First, the sites are fairly new, or at least their prevalence in search engine results is low.  Second, there are too many of them, so reviews of a single provider may be scattered in several places.   And third, most online users reading and writing reviews tend to  be younger and probably healthier.   They are more concerned about their choices for dinner and drinks than choosing a cardiologist.  Most importantly, review sites are a form of social media, or a community.  And like any community, people will be involved when they see others like themselves involved.  We’ve seen online reviews start to appear in Google Places pages for our clients whose practices skew younger, such as Urgent Care, Chiropractic, or Ophthalmology.  Our clients have stated that the online reviews were the determining factor for some new patients in deciding to visit the practice.  In the coming years, we will see more relevant content on patient experiences for a wider variety of medical practices.  Whether the online community starts to use the “medical review” sites or sticks with more general sites such as Google Places and Yelp is anyone’s guess.

2.  Patient anecdotes may not be the best judge of a doctor’s skills

Dr. Van De Graaff questions whether it is valuable to sum up one’s entire opinion of a physician based on one quick interaction.  The doctor may have just finished a difficult procedure and the patient construes his detached demeanor as rude.  Does relaying this experience to the masses really help others in the community determine his skills as a physician?  It’s a valid point.

In reality, nothing has changed other than technology.  Fifteen years ago, if I visited a cardiologist and was put off by his bedside manner, I would tell five friends, of which most would forget the doctor’s name the next day. Today, I can report my thoughts to millions and they will live online presumably forever.  Fair?  Probably not.

However, this is the reality physicians need to face, especially as the generation that grew up on the internet ages.  It’s not going away.  We instruct our clients  how to generate positive reviews for their practices.  Next to word-of-mouth from a trusted source, this is the most powerful marketing tool, especially for practices that are highly competitive and don’t rely on physician referrals.

Launching a Facebook page for a medical practice

After publishing our latest blog post entitled Facebook can be your Friend, we were asked “Hey guys, that’s great, but how do I get started?”

Social media speaker and trainer, Mari Smith, wrote a user friendly step-by-step primer on launching a Facebook page for a business over at Social Media Examiner.  Her article, Facebook 101 For Business: Your Complete Guide starts with the assumption that you have a personal Facebook page.  From there, she guides the reader through reviewing their profile, making friends lists to separate content from personal and business friends, privacy settings, and finally, launching a business profile.

It all applies nicely to a medical practice. At the conclusion, Mari sets a goal of obtaining between 500-1000 fans. For a smaller practice, this may not be possible.  For now, don’t let numbers intimidate you, Facebook is an excellent way to connect informally with your patient base.

Facebook 101 for Business: Your Complete Guide