Do you sell medical devices or service aimed at doctors? If YES, here are 20 best marketing ideas & tips for selling to doctors and asking them for referrals.
You may have probably wondered why some clinics get all the referrals, while others are just scrambling to make ends meet. The reason is not because one doctor or one clinic is better than the other; it is all a factor of who has the best referral process.
Yes, referrals are ways businesses generate leads and new business. While most professionals recognize this, they don’t know how to tap into their networks to proactively generate business referrals.
You should know that getting referrals from doctors to boost your business will cost you little or nothing if done right, but it will require you to invest time and creativity if you want to create a referral network that will last.
But you can’t just pick up the phone, call a few doctors, and wait for new patients to start trooping into your clinic. There are certain things you have to do to make it happen. In this article, we will provide you tips on how to build and sustain great referral process from doctors.
20 Tips and Strategies for Marketing to Doctors for Referrals
Create a target list
Before you start your referral journey, you need to have a target. You first need to choose doctors in your area you want to approach. You can start with making a list of 50 to 75 doctors or clinics, with the majority being in internal medicine or family practice, or any practice that relates to yours.
Sort your list by size and location relative to your practice. The closer an office is to yours, the easier it will be for patients, thus making referrals more likely. These doctors should be at the top of your list. Next will be offices that are not as close but are smaller.
That’s because it’s often easier to get a meeting with doctors in smaller offices than those in a large group. The last group on your list should be the larger practices that are not in your immediate geographic radius. Once your list is ready, then you are set to make your approach.
Set up meetings
The next step in your referral process is to set up meetings with doctors on your list. You can delegate this step to one of your staff members as it will only involve making phone calls to the doctors on your target list. The person involved will have to call and set up meetings on your behalf.
You can set up a lunch with the physician only or, if you have the budget for it, offer to bring a meal for the entire office. Repeat this step for all of the physicians you plan to target. Note that a face to face meeting is highly recommended to making calls.
When going out to meet the doctors, you have to go prepared. You should gather all the information and notes from previous visits to make sure you are prepared to provide a quality visit to the referring physician.
You need to take into account that it’s about building a strong and reliable doctor referral relationship. Include the information that specifically applies to the doctors and their patients discussing the mutual accepted insurances and affiliated hospital programs.
Familiarize Yourself with Referring Doctor’s Practice
You have to know who you are doing business with, so one tip to have at hand when trying to get referrals from doctors is to familiarize yourself with their practice. Know the roles and responsibilities of staff members to become more efficient between visits.
Familiarizing yourself with staff members is a great way to remain memorable and will make the marketing easier and more enjoyable.
The nurses and staff members are the backbones of the practice so make sure you show them some love, bring treats or ask about their families. Making a small effort to meet the staff can go a long way.
Get the doctor to like you
One thing to keep in when seeking referrals from doctors is that there are plenty of people who offer the same types of services as you.
Therefore, you need to stand out of the crowd and not be ‘just another sales person’ to that doctor. They don’t care what you do until they know you.
It is far more important to be likeable and show your personality to the doctor. Make the effort to visit and meet with the doctors face to face. Start establishing a relationship with them. Once they trust you, they will feel comfortable referring patients to you.
The most important thing is, don’t make the meeting all about you and your clinic. Make the doctor feel important, be genuine and learn about their practice, patients and goals. This way, you are guaranteed success in your meeting.
Always visit in the afternoon
Another great tip to keep in mind while seeking referrals from doctors is to schedule your visits towards the afternoon hours. Walking into a clinic that is busy can be intimidating.
Mornings are usually busier so you’re just going to add to the crowd and stress. Besides, no doctor will listen to you if they still have a crowd of people to attend to.
Try going around lunch time or early afternoon. The doctor is usually caught up with patients by then and will have some time to breathe. Never go on Mondays either, because they are way too busy too.
Find out what is important
When asking for referrals from doctors, you have to make the effort to find out the things that are important to them and their practice.
The goal is to help them find a solution to their problems and concerns. Make it a win/win situation, not just a win for you. Offer help in any way you can and not only come to take.
Buy them lunch with no ‘business’ strings attached
One tip on how to get a doctor like you enough to bring referrals your way is to make efforts at friendship. One way to do this is to buy them lunch with no strings attached. This should be a purely friendship thing.
The overall objective is to give first, and once a relationship is established, the referrals will start rolling in. Developing a relationship with the doctor is a lot like dating.
It takes time and effort to get them to marry you. Think about it. You can’t ask somebody to marry you on your first day so don’t rush the relationship. Spend some time on courtship.
Create memorable experiences
Another tip on how to create a robust business relationship is to offer unique experiences that the doctor would enjoy (eg. golf tournaments, murder mystery dinner theatre tickets, a restaurant voucher, etc.).
People love take in part in things that are out of the ordinary. Differentiate your approach by thinking outside the square and providing experiences that they will truly enjoy.
Focus on the new doctors in your neighborhood.
One good step to take is to focus on the doctors that just moved into the neighborhood. This is because new doctors not yet well connected and they are looking to build a busy caseload.
They are also looking for you so they can refer to you (especially if you are good with patients) because it makes them look good in front of their patients.
But, they don’t want to have to go looking for you, so it’s up to you to make it easy for them by reaching out and making the connection.
Next time ask the office manager: “Any new doctors joining the practice?” Or you can also look for medical offices in the new real estate developments. Even better, send a few patients from your practice over to the new doctor and get them busy.
The only time this will be a big waste of time is if they have a really good referral source already. For instance, their wife is a physiotherapist, their best friend is a chiropractor or they own a rehab clinic next door.
Get your patients involved
Arrange your appointments on the same day your patient is to return to see the referring physician. Get your patients to hand deliver their progress and discharge letters to the doctor.
Make sure that any notes or reports to the doctors are typed and not handwritten because this is the most common complaint from doctors. Not only is poor and illegible handwriting a nuisance to decipher, its not friendly.
Be super polite to the front office receptionists
One tip to keep in mind when approaching doctors for referrals is the receptionist. These folks are the gate keepers of the office and protect their primary care providers.
Receptionists sometimes get fatigued from the never ending flow of incoming pharma reps and product peddlers, and they may give you a look of exhaustion and exasperation when they see you at the window.
You need to be patient and be friendly so as to get on their good sides. Believe it or not, a receptionist that has been treated poorly can thwart your chances with a doctor.
Don’t be too persistent
Repeated visits to the same office may begin to antagonize staff and can work against your goals. A good idea, rather than revisiting the office, would be to send the doctor or PA a postcard.
Include a couple more cards and a brief note to the tune of “Thank you for giving me the chance to meet you the other day. I really hope you can give me an opportunity to help some of your patients in the near future”.
A lot of businesses seeking doctors’ referrals have failed in this aspect. After your meeting, ensure that you follow up regularly to nurture the referral relationship you began with that initial meeting, or all of your work could go down the drain.
A quick note to the physician as well as their staff thanking them for their time is a great way to start. You can also send the doctors you’ve spoken to a monthly newsletter.
This can include news about your practice, how you work with the physicians in your area, and a section for the newest research in spinal conditions and chiropractic care. Remember, without follow-up, your chance of building a long- term referral network goes down dramatically.
Volunteer with their favorite charities
Volunteering is a great way to meet new people. You get introduced in a neutral setting, you have a built-in topic to discuss, and you get a chance to form a strong bond doing something that really helps your community.
To make this approach effective for your practice though, you need to know where the physicians you wish to meet like to volunteer.
Start by going online. You can often find out people’s favorite charities from their websites or social media pages. If the doctor you are hoping to connect with works at a hospital, you may find the hospital website has a page devoted to each doctor’s bio. Sometimes, just a quick call to the front desk staff will let you know which non-profits their office supports.
Remember, the goal is not to make a sales pitch at a volunteer event. You are there to volunteer, that needs to take precedence.
However, you can easily initiate a conversation introducing yourself. From there, ask them how long they’ve volunteered with the group and why they got involved in it.
That’s all you need to get started. Over time and as your relationship develops, you can ask to meet and talk about how you might be able to work together.
Maintain referral etiquette
So, once you have new patients coming in from referrals, how do handle the professional relationship? The answer is simple if you respect this point: They were another doctors’ patient before they became yours.
Always seek to allay any fears the physician that they would not lose their patient to you. The standard way to do this is to send the your case notes of the referred patient upon initial exam, re-exam, and maximum medical improvement (MMI) or discharge from active care.
By sending these notes, you’re demonstrating to the physician that not only are you a professional and the patient they referred to you is receiving excellent care but also that you consider them to be a part of your team.
Make it a two-way street—benefit each other
In the business of referrals, you have to ensure that you are not only a ‘taker’, but also a ‘giver’. Professionals are much more likely to work with you if their business is gaining from it. To be a great networker you must become ‘you’ centered rather than ‘me’ centered.
What problems can you help your potential referral sources solve? Make it all about taking care of their customers and the services you will provide them. And in return, you can also refer clients to their services when the need arises.
Work together to benefit all businesses involved. This works on a small scale, by doing things like passing out each other’s business cards or occasionally referring customers.
Or it can be done on a larger scale, sharing booths at industry events or sharing advertising space. If the situation calls for it, work together to create a referral plan that benefits both businesses.of the process
Even as an established physician with your own successful practice, you can never stop marketing yourself. During any of your networking events, you must be comfortable going up to prospective referral sources and selling yourself as an excellent provider based on your training, your experience, and your personality.
Many group practices or health networks offer resources that can help you market yourself easier. They can enable links to your personal website on their main hospital webpage, which sees a lot of patient traffic.
They can distribute your business card and refer you to other providers throughout their network and throughout the community. Just being affiliated with a certain hospital can help get your name out.
On the other hand, being a part of a hospital can also dilute your exposure due to you being in a saturated workplace. The hospital could employ many physicians with your same specialty and that can lead to competing interests.
Therefore, it is always better to take the bulk of marketing into your own hands. Nowadays, there are a number of ways to utilize the digital space to market your healthcare practice effectively.
Express Gratitude for the Referrals
When you receive a referral from a physician’s office, be sure to acknowledge and share your appreciation. Healthy relationships need to be mutually beneficial. So, when you ask the doctors for referrals, be sure you have something to offer.
It has been discovered that sending a personalized physical “thank you” card via land mail makes an impact. Always include a few of your business cards, and ask for more referrals.
Another service you can offer is in-service trainings for their staff on topics relevant to their patients, speak at their staff meetings on something that is valuable to them.
To make referral marketing a proactive part of your lead generation activities, you need to actually be referable. Ensure that you deliver what you promise, and when you promise.
Your clients need to be able to boast of the value you provide. It’s important to get clear on who you want to attract as clients and how your network can help you get referrals from those clients.
Again, you have to start your referral practice early enough, and not wait till you are out of clients. Put a sales referral process into place now to drive high quality referrals consistently so that you’re not left scrambling when the pipeline stops flowing.