My sales and marketing career has seen me apply strategies to increase growth in a number of sectors. This has ranged from shipping, to contemporary art, to publishing and for the past decade to healthcare.
The basic principles are the same in every sector. Use your marketing to build awareness and then have a robust sales structure in place to convert prospects.
Healthcare is no different. It’s a market. In that market there are people who want your services. You need to put your practice in front of them so that they can see you and make an enquiry to come and see you. We put so much effort into making ourselves visible that we can sometimes forget to look at the basics and what is quite possibly the most important part: The enquiry.
The enquiry is what our business needs to survive. It sustains us. The spark of interaction is everything and we can’t fail to capitalise on it.
Before I even begin to help a client throw out the net and build awareness we first look at their enquiry handling. If you’re getting 100 enquiries a month and not handling a third of them, then you can immediately tighten up this aspect of your process and increase your turnover significantly without spending a penny. Think about this. There’s no point in increasing enquiries if you’re not properly handling the ones you’re getting.
Test your business. Ask your friend, partner or family to contact you as a secret shopper and report back on how the experience was.
- Did someone pick up the phone?
- Did you get an appointment quickly?
- Did the person answering have empathy, did they care?
- Were your questions answered confidently?
Here’s one tip that can transform how you handle enquiries.
PUT YOUR SECRETARY / RECEPTION TEAM ON A BONUS SCHEME
Yes, its controversial.
You’re probably thinking: I already pay my staff, they’re professional and work hard, isn’t a commission something for double glazing salespeople?
To which I would reply: What does converting an extra 10 enquiries a month mean to your bottom line?
I’m talking here about the sales process and if you are in business then you need to be thinking about it because everyone else is.
The person who answers your phones is your first step to getting a new client. They are vitally important. If they are invested in the process they are far more likely to go that extra mile. A new client is a win, a bonus reinforces that winning feeling with the most direct reward our society values: money.
I have never met a single member of a team who wouldn’t be influenced by an extra £250 a month. So put some thought into it. It may not be right for your company culture but if you think it could be then consult with them and roll it out.
Consider a bonus structure that only kicks in above the levels of business that you have already hit. You don’t want to pay a bonus scheme on last years revenue. It is paid on growth.
Make the bonus work on a scale, linking it to procedure types and margin (high margin, higher bonus). This means that the bonus is only a financial positive for you and not a drain.
Perhaps think about splitting a bonus between team members so everyone is working together. Bonus schemes for only select members of the team can cause friction and division.
Whatever bonus scheme you introduce, put it in writing so everyone is crystal clear how the scheme works. This should include if it’s based on flat rate, a sliding scale, a monthly target and importantly when it gets paid.
Initially consult your team on it and test it for a three month period. This way you can work with them to make sure it suits your purposes.
Above all be transparent and celebrate success.
A team united in the pursuit of a goal is a powerful thing. This is how empires are built.