THINKING BUSINESS
a blog by Chris Barrow

Why WOM is the real answer to hitting your marketing targets – and why it doesn’t get do

I was struggling to get a 35-person financial services sales team to ask for Word of Mouth recommendations back in 1986.

In fact, the majority of them preferred making 100 cold telephone calls a week, to get 90 rejections, 10 appointments and 3 sales.

Being rejected 97 times a week was less painful than asking a new client, at the point of delivery, for referrals.

Here in 2016 I’m discussing the same problem with dental practice owners every week.

The reluctance of clinicians and TCO’s to ask for recommendations at the moment they are fulfilling their patient’s desired outcomes is as problematic now as it was back in the 80’s.

Why?

  1. Fear of rejection – remember that F.E.A.R. means “fantasy expressed as reality”. The fantasy is that patients will say “no” when you ask them for recommendations. That’s happened to me three times in the last 35 years – a risk I’im prepared to take. It seems that the fear of being rejected by patients is greater then the fear of being rejected by strangers who respond to your digital marketing by price-shopping and bargain hunting;

  2. Lack of self-worth – the feeling that you are not “good enough” to ask for recommendations because of your own inner feelings of low self-esteem. Step 1 – realise that comparing your inside with other peoples’ outsides is unecessary. Step 2 – sharpen up your act. Get fit, get tidy, get organised, get qualified, get better.

  3. The avoidance of humiliation – “OMG – if they say “no” I will look like a fool in front of the team”. Get over yourself. If you aren’t getting the occasional “no” it’s because you aren’t working hard enough on your marketing, prospecting and sales. Remember that great quote about missing 100% of the shots you don’t take?

  4. Lack of professional pride – if you believe that stuff hawked around by the GDC, the Consumers Association and The Mail, then you will paralyse yourself – every trade and profession has its bad apples – our job is to redress the balance. Be proud of what your profession does as well as what you do – and simply refuse to “wrestle with the pigs” who want to criticise, condemn and complain;

  5. Absence of technique – asking for recommendations (analogue or digital) requires protocols, scripts and systems. To embrace the technique and ensure that all of your team are so trained demonstrates a true commitment to professionalism and excellence;

  6. Accountability – it starts with the daily huddle and progresses through appraisal to performance review – that which doesn’t get measured doesn’t get done.

Word of Mouth back in the 80’s was analogue – simply a question of asking.

Today, digital word of mouth includes reviews, likes, comments, shares, selfies and videos – add all of that to the original face to face request which remains as important as ever.

Word of Mouth has to be a practice protocol (the way we do things here) and it cannot be optional.

It can also save you thousands of pounds of digital marketing mud thrown at the wall.

I was training sales teams on WOM in 1986. I’m still training, this time dental teams.

If you want a business coach to train your team on those protocols – just email coachbarrow@me.com

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