5 Tips To Improve Your Intake
I recently posted an article on why it is essential to leverage the efficiency and effectiveness of marketing to your branded audience (potential clients/patients that already know you, who are familiar with your practice, viewed your website, visited your social media platform, contacted your office at an earlier time, etc.).
Today, I want to address another critical stage of the marketing and sales process – Sales Lead Intake.
If you believe that your intake person, team and processes are perfect and don’t need any additional updating, monitoring, training, and coaching, then you are likely missing out on new business.
The fact is, every practice can schedule more consultations and secure more business with the leads they already generate (without spending more marketing dollars!), simply by improving their intake of telephone leads.
The greatest sales organizations in the world never rest on their laurels and are always leveraging new technology and strategies to improve their communication and rapport with prospects.
Here are 5 quick tips to help you continually improve your telephone intake and improve your practice’s conversion rates.
Tip #1 - Quarterly Evaluation
Schedule a strategic review of your intake, follow-up and sales processes. Take a fresh approach to all aspects of prospects interaction with your practice, the information you provide, and the materials you send as follow up.
Invest the necessary time to regularly train your intake team. Part of your marketing strategy should also include creating new and better materials, and develop more effective resources they can leverage throughout the sales process. Evaluations should also include listening to recorded calls as part of your ongoing training and secret shopping your biggest competitors’ intake strategies.
Tip #2 – Update Your Greeting
Keep in mind, callers generally have their “guard up” when they initially call you. Making a simple change to how you greet them can lower it and set the tone for the entire call.
Most sales lead intake starts off with a canned greeting, such as, “Thank you for calling XXX (practice name). My name is YYY. How can I help you?”
Not bad, but the key to getting callers to bring down their guard is to first get them to listen. One strategy is to change the experience by quickly breaking their initial chain of thought.
- Callers have already pre-planned what they are going ask.
- They expect you to say some canned greeting.
- They mentally start going into their “rehearsed” question, even before you finish your greeting.
As subtle, but effective intake strategy is to greet them with a service statement rather than a question. Example – “Thank you for calling XXX practice. My name is YYY; I can help you.”
This simple technique can start the process and get callers to actively listen and engage with your intake specialist.
Tip #3 - Focus on Listening
Building immediate rapport with callers is essential to lowering their guard and developing a connection with you and your practice. This starts with focusing more on honing better listening skills and less on talking or selling.
If your intake has a pre-set agenda to simply schedule a consultation, it becomes obviously transparent to the caller.
Rather than actively listening to callers and managing the conversation, most intake staff are focused exclusively on when and how to spring the “schedule a consultation” question. Give callers the opportunity to inquire, share details, ask questions, and even vent their frustration. An important aspect of high-quality intake is the ability to sincerely empathize with callers and engage with a professional, helpful spirit.
Tip #4 - Take Control and Manage Intake Calls
Good intake, however, does not simply end with just listening to callers and quickly answering or deflecting questions. Instead, you need to take back control and manage the call.
Taking back control is simply getting the caller to agree to let you ask important questions, so you can help them in the best way possible.
“I can certainly answer your question, but to give you the most accurate answer, can I ask you a couple questions first?”
Now that you have control, effectively managing the call requires you start by asking better clarifying questions and getting to underlying details, interests, desires and motivations. It is important to note that I identified “clarifying” questions. This is not a pre-set list of intake questions. Rather, they are informational questions based on the caller’s previous comments and responses.
Thus, effective call management is a combination of active listening and conversational questioning skills.
The call needs to feel more like a natural conversation and less like an interrogation.
Tip #5 - Follow-Up = Consultations
Although we can improve conversions with better intake, we will never convert all calls into a scheduled consultation. This is increasingly true with marketing and advertising-driven leads.
In these cases, it is important to maintain contact through their decision-making process and helpful, informational follow up can make a significant and positive impact to your conversion rate. Consider the following:
- Nurtured leads produce, on average, a 20% increase in sales opportunities versus non-nurtured leads. (HubSpot)
- Nurtured leads make 47% larger purchases than non-nurtured leads. (The Annuitas Group)
Thus, it is important to be able to extract key contact information from callers, particularly name and email. You will also need to ensure your intake specialist has the resources to effectively follow up and provide credible and useful information for your prospects. This can also include strategic (database) marketing automation.
By devoting the appropriate attention to your intake process, your practice can significantly improve the conversion rate of your current marketing leads; secure more business with the leads you are already generating.
If you would like a free intake evaluation, call us today at 800-916-3886. Or email us.
~Bill Fukui, Sales & Marketing Director