THINKING BUSINESS
a blog by Chris Barrow

Why it’s OK to wait 17 years for a client/patient to say “yes”

I’ve previously explained that the world record for the length of time it took a dentist to make up his mind to hire me was 17 years (impulsive eh?).

That memorable phrase “I first heard you speak on Paul Tipton’s restorative course in 1996 and have been following your stuff for years. I have now decided I’d better give you a call” was a timely reminder 5 years ago that clients/patients contact us for help:

  1. when they are ready

  2. if they know that we can help them

So there are two important questions that every business owners needs to ask themselves:

  1. how will I know they are ready?

  2. how will they know that it’s ME/US who can help them?

The answer to the first question is surprisingly simple and yet frequently overlooked – just ask.

Overlooked because the day list is crammed with patients, because you are running late, because appearances have deceived you, because you don’t have the language skills or sometimes because you just cannot be bothered.

Technique reminder – you don’t ask people whether they are interested in dental implants, you ask them how they are.

When they are ready, how will they know it’s YOU to ask?

Ever had that experience where an existing patient/client has told you that they bought elsewhere because “I didn’t know that you did that?”

It has happened to me and behind my forced grin I’ve been dying inside.

This isn’t complicated of course – they will ask you if they know you can help.

They will know you can help if you tell them.

Dur.

How you tell them is where most business owners fall down, largely because they are too impatient for results.

The impatient marketer invests in campaign after campaign, shouting about products, services and special offers.

WE DO IMPLANTS!!!

WE DO WHITENING!!

WE DO SAME DAY CROWNS!!

WE DO INVISIBLE BRACES!!

WE DO 0% FINANCE!!

Eventually, all of that shouting merges into a dull background noise that your audience switches off (raise your hand if you ever learned how to ignore the sound of your babies crying or your kids complaining – that’s at home or at work).

The patient marketer appreciates a 17-year gestation period for a good client (but understands that’s not an average, it’s an extreme – balanced by those who say “yes” on day 1 and all those between) and understands that effective marketing sounds like this…..

drip

drip

drip

drip

The dripping tap of whispered storytelling:

  1. good conversations during your dental health reviews

  2. daily posting to social media channels

  3. check ins and reviews

  4. weekly blogging

  5. monthly newsletter issue

  6. a well managed morning huddle

  7. an excellent patient experience

  8. a polished end of treatment conversation

  9. regular publishing in local B2B and B2C magazines

  10. speaking and networking in your community

Equally, the patient marketer appreciates that those “shouty” messages are ineffective and that the whispers are not about PRODUCTS but about people whose lives you have been able to change for the better.

Marketing is storytelling.

On the subject of clients and patients who take their time, I recently spent a delightful day with Derek van Staden and his team at Christchurch Dental in Ipswich.

It has taken 10 years for that day to happen.

A decade of emails, telephone calls, conversations at conferences, even beers in the sunshine at the Practice Plan Club Weekend.

Here’s what Derek said after our day together:

Finally. He visited. Yes, having Chris around means I have to lay myself and my team and my practice bare. He looks at everything, the numbers, the building and the personalities. It was great. Tough. Emotional. Yet honest. I knew it all and was in denial and hesitant and unsure about what is going on in my business, yet all the plans and measures and dreams and the vision we have is right. And that is where Chris came in for me. He said “yes” and gave me the nod. We can move on with renewed confidence and vigour. Now the hard work starts and continues and we’re off working on our plans Thank you Chris

And that, my friends, is worth the wait.

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