Are you ready to convert? – Learn what you need to know about answering patient phone calls

What makes someone ready?

Are you ready to improve your conversion rate on the phone? That is a question that I often ask people when they ask us to help improve their business and increase their sales.

“Are you ready?” And if so, what makes someone ready? The biggest success I’ve experienced when training people on the phone is that certain conditions need to be present.

You need dedicated people with dedicated roles

Number one, they have to have people who are dedicated to answering the phone. That’s number one. If you don’t have that, then you’re going to have somebody who’s handling a phone on the side of their desk, constantly being interrupted. Perhaps if they’re at the reception, they’re not going to be able to have the kind of conversations that I recommend having, which are more private and emotional conversations, directly one-on-one with patients where nobody else should be listening in. So, you have got to have a dedicated person ready to answer the phone.

Your telephone agent needs to be MOTIVATED to learn and improve

Number two, that person needs to have the motivation to improve. They have to have the motivation to want to learn something new. If that person figures that they can increase their close rates or conversion rates just by doing the same thing that they’ve always done, I consider that person untrainable. If you have somebody who is number one, available and trainable, those are two great steps on your journey to being ready to convert.

What else is necessary?

Your agents need time to form relationships with callers

That person needs to have permission from you to spend the required amount of time that it takes to engage with a new prospect on the telephone, be able to form some kind of emotional connection with them so that they can earn the trust to convert that caller into a first appointment. And, that typically takes between 10 to 15 minutes at a minimum.

What NOT being ready to convert means to your business

If you can’t give the person that amount of time, then you’re going to hobble your opportunities to increase your conversion rates. And, what does that achieve?

Well, that could potentially hobble your opportunity to double your sales, because if you can turn a conversion rate that is 25% and turn that into 50%, or potentially turn a conversion rate that’s 30% into 60%, you’ve effectively doubled your sales with everything else remaining equal.

Please, don’t be penny-wise, but pound foolish. Ensure that you’re getting yourself ready to convert before engaging in any kind of training program, that could generate the kind of business that will return many, many, many times over the investment that you might be putting into getting ready to convert.

How do you handle callers that only want to know the price?

How do you deal with a phone call when it comes into a practice? What do you say? How do you answer questions like “what’s the price?” I think that’s probably the most common question that clinics receive. One of the first things you want to avoid doing is surprisingly answering the question. The reason for that is that you want to take control of the conversation.

A part of learning how to answer a conversation or a phone call effectively is taking leadership, showing leadership to the person calling that your clinic is different. Answering calls is a form of competitive differentiation that we train our clinics around the world to have. In doing so, they can effectively lower their marketing budget long-term because they’re able to distance themselves from the competition by how well they treat people at every single point of the interaction.

Get a minimum data set from EVERY caller

When people call, don’t just answer the question. Instead, say, “That’s a great question; I’m going to answer that for you in a second, just in case so that we don’t get cut off, let me make sure that I get your information.”

So, you’re going to want to get information set from them. Now, you can determine what that is; every clinic’s different. But you want to determine, “Okay, what is the minimum dataset that we’re going to make sure that everybody who calls we capture so that if you get disconnected, or they do not take the next step, you can follow up with them?” So I would say, as a bare minimum, that’s the first thing you want to make sure you do now.

Maintain a Daily Sales Record

From today onwards, you want to make sure that even if they don’t go in your database, because I know that many of you only put somebody in your database when they book a consultation. So, you want to create what we call a daily sales record, which we give to our clinics. It’s a Google spreadsheet that you can use if you don’t have a database. So, you want to start tracking that information to know what your conversion rate on the telephone is.

How to take a leadership role on the phone

So, what are some other ways that you can take leadership? First, you get the dataset, introduce yourself, and then you’re going to want to ask them some questions. So before you give them the price, you want to let them know that you need to ask them some questions so that you can best help them. I think that it’s a fair thing to do. When you go into a store, if you ask for something, if somebody just blindly recommends something to you, you’re not going to trust that as much as somebody who asks you questions to get to know you and what your needs are, so that they can give you a professional recommendation.

It’s no different for a clinic!

Raising emotions is the key to raising conversion rates on the phone

You’re going to want to make sure that you ask them some emotional questions.

We train all of our clinics to go through a series of questions that gets at, why are they calling you in the first place? What do they want to achieve? Maybe it’s not even something you can help them with; perhaps they have a lazy eye… So you want to go through and figure out who they are and what they want to achieve.

Take them through a series of fascinating questions that will make them feel like you get them and truly understand them so that you increase the chances that they will take the next step and book the consultation. Because you’ve differentiated yourself from the competition and proven that your clinic’s marketing customer services are at the same high, world-class level as is your patient care.

(NOTE: Want to see how your practice marketing measures up against the best in class? Take this 5-minute quiz to see how you stack up in the 9 areas of practice marketing and get specific tips and advice on how you can improve your weak points and better leverage your strengths).

About the author


LiveseySolar’s mission is to double the size of 150 cataract and refractive surgery practices. Using our proven marketing frameworks and deep market knowledge, our customers can predictably and sustainably grow their practices so that they can enjoy a healthy balance between both worlds – a successful private practice and a happy life.

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Meet our Founders

We’re passionate about helping leaders of high-quality, growth-minded practice owners double their practice revenue

Rod Solar

Founder & Scalable Business Advisor

Rod Solar is a co-founder of LiveseySolar and a Scalable Business Advisor / fCMO for our customers. Rod mentors and coaches CEOs/Founders and their leadership teams to double their sales, triple their profits, and achieve their “ideal exit”.

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LiveseySolar completely transformed the way we were approaching this… We’ve gone from having just the dream of having a practice to having a practice up and running with people making inquiries and booking for procedures… It’s extremely pleasing. We feel lucky we connected with LiveseySolar.

— Dr Matthew Russell, MBChB, FRANZCO, specialist ophthalmic surgeon and founder of VSON and OKKO

Laura Livesey

Founder & CEO

Laura Livesey is the co-founder & CEO of LiveseySolar. She has developed powerful refractive surgery marketing systems that increase patient volumes and profits for doctors, clinics, and hospitals, since 1997.

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Rod and Laura know as much about marketing surgery to patients as I know about performing it. They are an expert in the field of laser eye surgery marketing. They know this industry inside out. I believe that they could help many companies in a variety of areas including marketing materials, sales training and marketing support for doctors.

— Prof. Dan Reinstein, MD MA FRSC DABO, founder of the London Vision Clinic, UK