Bad Leads? Why Your Conversion Rate is Low and How to Fix It

As a practice owner it is incredibly frustrating to spend thousands on advertising without seeing an increase in patient numbers (and, therefore, return on investment).

The most obvious solution to the problem could lie in your advertising itself – maybe your ads aren’t shown to enough people, or there just simply aren’t enough leads coming through.

But what if you’re consistently hitting your increasing leads and appointment targets, yet your number of patients is standing still – or worse, declining?

“These leads are bad! We need different leads.”

This is a common reaction that I’ve heard from customers time and time again. It makes sense, right? If the people who come to see you at first appointments seem unengaged, poorly informed or simply not ready to commit – what are you supposed to do?

Let’s dive into where this idea comes from, how to determine quality leads and what to do if you’re noticing a poor conversion rate from first appointment to surgery.

Why practice owners think their leads are poor quality

When you first opened your private practice, chances are you didn’t advertise immediately. If you did, you likely started with a low budget to test the waters. Hence, most patients you saw in the early days did not come from digital advertising. They might have been optometrist referrals (which often temporarily increase upon starting a new business), friends and family referrals, or people who already knew about you before you opened your private practice. This is what we call a warm lead.

Thinking back, you’ll likely remember how easy it felt to convert these people to surgery. Clearly, your ability to convert is strong enough, right?

Not necessarily.

More accurately, your ability to convert warm leads is strong. Your ability to convert cold leads, however, remains untested.

Here’s the thing – it’s not your fault. You’ve been led to believe that every person who comes through your door will always be positively disposed to your brand, your services and their benefits – and ready to buy from you.

Nobody gave you the right tools to actively engage and excite cold leads at the appointment while handling multiple objections. Without these tools, you’re handling cold leads with the same tools you use to handle warm leads – and this is why your conversion rate drops.

What makes cold leads different?

Imagine you’re at a party, and you see an attractive woman in the corner of the room. You want to ask her out.

In scenario A, this woman has seen you before. She knows your name and what you do for a living. You might have mutual friends – they told her that you’re a good guy. She smiles at you across the room. You have the confidence to ask for a date – she says yes.

In scenario B, this woman has never seen you before. She does not know anything about you. You smile at her until you catch her eye, and then she smiles back. You ask her out – she hesitates and tells you she needs to think about it. You go back to the party, planning to try again next time you see her.

The same approach does not yield the same result in these distinct scenarios. Now, would you say either of the women in the scenarios are good or bad women? Would you advise the man who’s looking to date to only target women who already know him? You wouldn’t. You’d tell him to change his approach for women who aren’t familiar with him yet.

The same principle applies when addressing warm vs cold leads at the first appointment.

What’s a good lead?

A good lead is someone who shows interest in your service. You can determine interest by observing them make small sacrifices (time or money).

Anyone that sacrifices time and effort (or pays money) to…

  • Complete your lead magnet (e.g. self-test)
  • Book an appointment online or on the phone
  • Drive, take public transport, bike or walk to meet you at your practice

… is a lead you can convert. Think of all the distractions on our phones and in our daily lives. There are so many things these leads could do instead. If they choose to spend a small amount of time with you, their problem is frustrating enough to seek a solution to get them closer to their dream outcome.

Whether they go forward depends on how you communicate the likelihood of achievement of their dream outcome, the time it takes to achieve it and the necessary effort & sacrifice.

Choose your hard

Converting cold leads is harder than converting warm leads. That’s a fact. As a practice owner, you have two options. You can either focus on increasing your warm leads by focusing on referral marketing and incentivising your happy patients to spread the word.

Or, you can focus on training your team to become better at converting cold leads so that you can get ROI on Google and Meta ads. Conversion training is a sustainable solution for increasing your patient numbers. If your team learns how to convert leads that aren’t yet convinced to choose you, imagine how reliable they’ll become at converting those who are.

How to convert cold leads

Cold leads often miss one thing at first calls and appointments: a confident guide that helps them make a decision and makes them feel good about their decision.

Here are 6 general tips on how to get better at converting cold leads:

1. Ask discovery questions to make leads problem-aware

It is important to make them describe why they are seeking you out. How long have they worn glasses? What do they hate about them? What was the final straw that made them consider vision correction?

2. Make them describe their dream outcome

Ask them what their ideal outcome would be. How would their daily lives change? How would it affect their job? How would it impact their confidence?

3.Use ah-ha moments to create excitement

An ah-ha moment is when the core value of your service clicks. They transform your service from a “nice-to-have” to a “must-have”. If you don’t see visible excitement on your leads’ faces, you are likely not creating ah-ha moments.

4. Be a guide

Insecure people need confidence when making decisions. Cold leads tend to be insecure because they don’t know as much about you or your service, as warm leads. They need a guide. They can sense if the person they’re talking to doesn’t believe in the value of the service, secretly thinks the price is too high or fears rejection.

5. Don’t make them think

All leads (especially cold ones) need a strong recommendation from you or your team on what they should do. Making decisions is hard. Don’t add to the stress by giving them the choice between two similar procedures. As the expert, you need to take responsibility and choose what the best option for them is.

6. Learn how to handle objections

This is the hardest and the most important. Cold leads will come through your door with lots of reasons to say no. It’s not your job to change their mind. It’s your job to listen and to help them decide if their dream outcome is worth the effort, sacrifice and time it takes. They will only feel good about saying yes to you if they can logically justify the decision to themselves and others.

I recommend investing time in training all staff members on how to handle patients on the phone and how to close patients at the first appointment. These courses have proven to be a game-changer for practices struggling with converting leads.

Don’t blame the leads; adapt your approach.

The first step in improving your conversion rate is to start tracking the number of attended appointments, how many leads proceed to the next step and which objections those that didn’t, named. You can then use this information to focus your training on the real problems your team is facing and watch your conversion rate increase over time.

NOTE: The best way to answer that nagging question about practice growth or marketing or patient volume in the back of your mind is to book a free 15-minute compatibility call. Get some options and go away with a clear idea of what’s possible.

About the author

Elisa Friedl
Customer Success & Growth Manager

Hi, I’m Elisa. As a Success & Growth Manager at LiveseySolar, I work as a junction between our customers and our team.

Since joining LiveseySolar in 2019, I’ve learned how to develop meaningful relationships with your patients by designing strategies to generate awareness, engage your audience, utilise lead magnets, entry point offers and profit maximisers to amplify core offers and increase sales.

I also lead LiveseySolar’s Paid Traffic Campaigns aiming to get you in more leads from Google and social media advertising.

Seeing my customers grow their businesses and surpass their goals makes me proud.

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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 co-founded LiveseySolar and acts as a Fractional CMO and Scalable Business Advisor for our customers. He’s on a mission to help transform the lives of 10,000 people with vision correction surgery by 2024. To achieve that, he inspires his customers to make confident decisions that will help 50,000 people take the first step towards vision correction.

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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