If you’re anything like most private practice physicians we’ve worked with, your practice started small—and so did your referral marketing program. You probably had plenty of time on your hands to visit neighboring medical offices to introduce yourself and leave some of your literature.
But as your growing practice matures, adding new providers, satellite locations, and services, your approach to connecting with referral sources and telling your story needs to mature, too.
You’re probably already really good at telling your story about who you are and what you can offer, but a strong referral marketing organization like PRM will help you convert more of those office visits into new patient referrals in one clear major way.
Embrace the “Big Ask!”
Most physicians appear the same to referral coordinators. To them, all physicians are super-smart people who went to medical school, and any physician in a niche is the same as another physician in the same niche. Unless they get to spend time developing a referral relationship with these practices, there won’t seem like there is much of a difference between them when it comes time to make the decision for where to refer patients.
Referral coordinators are busy during the day and want to get their jobs done quickly, but if they are presented with useful information about a physician and asked to refer patients to him or her, they often will. Particularly if that physician stays top-of-mind through communication.
Some physicians have become very good at distinguishing themselves from their competitors and asking for the business, while others still take the approach of just hope for the best but ask for nothing. That second group of physicians is often disappointed in the results.
Enter the “Big Ask.”
In its most basic form, the “Big Ask” is a request that you are making for someone else to do something for you. It may sound easy, but a lot of physicians do the hard part of the work by going around town introducing themselves to other providers without ever asking for the business.
Most physicians tell me that they dread that final moment of the meet and greet when the time comes to go for the “Big Ask,” so they skip this part all together.
This is like performing a surgery and not suturing the place of incision. If you have made the effort to introduce yourself and your services to others, you have earned the right to ask for their business.
Your first step in conquering the “Big Ask” is to identify what it is you want to ask for. The second step is deciding how you want to ask.
Most physicians prefer a soft close, such as, “I will take great care of your patients. Please consider referring your patients to my practice.” You could also try an assumptive close such as, “When you send your patients to me, I will take great care of them.” If you want to get really aggressive you could try a hard close such as, “Please send all of your patients to my practice.” None of these closes are fancy, but they will all work. Use whichever “Big Ask” fits your personality, but as a general rule remember, “Say your best, then request.”
So, with all of that being said, here are the 3 things you need to know before you visit another physician’s practice.
- Go in and tell your story. Tell your audience who you are and how you can help their patients. What makes you different from your “identical twin competitors?
- Explain what types of patients you can treat. Describe a positive patient outcome and let them know that their patients can have the same positive experience. Then…
- Go for the “Big Ask” and ask them to send you their patients!
You don’t have to get it just right on the first try, either. You don’t even have to do it at all- our physician liaisons can do it for you! But it’s easy to tweak your “Big Asks” as you figure out what makes the most sense for you. It may seem uncomfortable at first, but the more you do it, the better you will get at it and the more natural it will feel. Give it some thought, practice saying a few “Big Asks” out loud, and if you need some help, I am only an email away.
What result do you want?
Who will your “Big Asks” be directed to?
What will your “Big Asks” be?