So I have an interesting question for you today. And that question is, do you get back to your inquiries that inquire on your website within five minutes?
I ran a poll at our most recent webinar that had about 300 doctors at it that asked people what happened after someone inquired on their website. And we got back some interesting answers. Of course, in most cases, a human eventually gets to contact with the lead, but it certainly doesn’t happen within five minutes.
In the cases where it does, those centres might have a call centre or dedicated staff ready to answer phones and have enough to take in new calls even while other team members are on the phone.
So this is a challenge, and this is a significant challenge for people in business and specifically for people in vision correction businesses. So I wanted to spend some time talking about it. And I also wanted to spend a little time discussing a solution that you might find valuable to look into if you’re going to get back to your inquiries within five minutes. So let’s get into this.
So what happens when a visitor inquires on your website?
And again, sometimes, it can include an automatic response. It can consist of a voicemail. It could involve sending an email to someone who completes a form. It could be a chat interaction. But the reality is that most people aren’t very good at getting back to inquiries.
So clinic staff aren’t good at handling new inquiries. Why do I know this? Because I’ve been working with clinic staff for about 20 years, not only in this country and also worldwide. And what I’ve realised is that they aren’t very good at handling new inquiries, by the way, it’s not their fault. It often begins with hiring, if someone trains them and understands how to do it. So if you hired them to do it, you could say it’s their responsibility.
You don’t hire salespeople – and that’s a problem
But the reality is that most people don’t employ salespeople to do this job. And they certainly don’t train those people enough. So I would argue that the person who you want to handle your first inquiries, whether they come from phone calls, chats or emails, is one of the most influential people in your clinic. And why would I say that? Well, because they are directly tied to your income and your income is directly linked to your profits. And the reason you’re a business is that you’re in a business is to make a profit. So, I mean, there were a lot of other good causes and good things you can do along the way, but if you’re not interested in making a profit in your business, then you should get out of business and work for someone else.
So you don’t hire salespeople. That is a challenge. And you also don’t create operational systems to make it easy for people to answer the phone. So people aren’t very good at picking up the phone.
You’ll usually have a person you hire to help you in private practice. You might call that person a medical secretary. You might call that person an assistant. And that person will be responsible for lots of things because you’re in a small private practice. And you’re trying to save money on labour. You’ll task that person with opening the door in the morning, going through all your voicemails, answering the phone, being the receptionist, admitting people to your practice, giving people forms, changing appointments, following up with people to book their postoperative appointments, do your billing, maybe put up a social media post from time to time. I don’t know, lots and lots of different things. You might even get that person to do collections for you.
And one of those things that suffer is picking up the phone, especially if that person is also seeing patients, doing tests or counselling. So that can be a big issue.
And that’s a lack and failure of an operational system. You haven’t put in a system that enables you to have the right people in the right jobs to do different things that are important to your business. So that’s the challenge.
You don’t train people to have good sales conversations
And look, they’re not good at the sales conversation again unless you’ve had them trained by somebody like myself or someone specialising in sales training. You’re not going to have people who are very good at having sales conversations because that’s what we do. We train people how to have sales conversations.
And again, the main reason is that you don’t get a lot of cold leads. If you’re not getting a lot of cold leads or not doing marketing, you’re mainly receiving Inquiries from warm referrals. So these can be referrals from insurance. They can be referrals from other doctors. They can be referrals from optometrists. Maybe you get a lot of referrals from friends and family of the patients you already treat, but because all of these people are warm, they don’t challenge your people, right?
You don’t have to have ideal sales conversations. So you can have order-taking conversations. Most of the time, people will call up and say, yeah, book me an appointment. He did my mom. Why wouldn’t I go to you?
The challenge with cold audiences
But when you start going into cold audiences, in other words, when you start doing advertising and trying to grow your practice, you’ll very quickly encounter that cold leads are not the types of leads to which you’ve become accustomed. They’re not like the warm leads that you’re comfortable with, and your telephone people will have a real challenge with those leads because those leads are talking to people who are having sales conversations with them. And if you can’t compete on that basis, you’ll spend a lot of money on marketing. And unfortunately, you’ll waste most of that money because your people will not be able to have good sales conversations. And therefore, your conversion rates will suffer. You may be accustomed to a conversion rate of close to 80 or 90% because you’re used to warm referrals. But as soon as you start getting cold leads, you suddenly see your conference conversion rate dwindle to 10%. Of course, now you can increase that if you have the training to have good sales conversations, but it’s unlikely that you do.
And they’re also not good at following up on inquiries. And this is a big challenge because, with a cold lead, they’re unlikely to book an appointment immediately, but they might book an appointment later. They’re shopping the field, taking their time and want to make sure they make the right decision. So if you don’t follow up with them, they will book an appointment with the person who follows up and listens.
Why do people stop marketing?
That’s the number one reason that people stop marketing. You don’t see the value because you’re not getting the return on investment. So you blame the marketing. But the reality is that the marketing was doing its job because the marketing job was to generate leads for you. The marketing job wasn’t to convert those leads. It was to generate the leads. And so the marketing did that, but you and your people failed to convert those leads. And when that happened, you decided, well, this marketing thing doesn’t work even though everyone in practice was doing their best.
So, they weren’t doing what was necessary, but doing their best with what they had. So they need more help. They need technology, they need training, and they need processes to be able to do this.
Why is 5 minutes a magic number?
So why is this so important? Well, We know that five minutes is the magic number. So connecting and qualifying with hard inquiries within five minutes alone will dramatically increase your conversion rate from inquiry to appointment.
We also know that about 62% of calls to SMBs are unanswered. SMBs are small, medium size businesses. By the way, that’s what you are when you’re running a private practice. So any business that has, I think, less than 250 people is considered a small business. And this chart you’re looking at here shows what happens when you get back to leads within five minutes. And this data comes from an MIT study. They demonstrated that speed to lead is everything. You can see here the number of leads that engaged based on response time and the number that engaged based on the five-minute response time, five minutes or under, dwarfed the others.
Even after 10 minutes, you’re starting to lose your opportunity because they’ve already engaged with somebody, and people don’t want to engage with more than one person. They want to engage with one. So that’s a big deal. And here, you can see that after five minutes, the odds of connecting and qualifying an inquiry dropped by 80%. Now, then when I learned about this number, it was a bit shocking to me because I’ve been spending the last 20 years training people how to convert people on the phone. And I just realised that the most important thing I should have been focusing on is getting them to respond to leads within five minutes because if they picked up the phone or responded to a lead within five minutes, conversions would have shot up.
So that’s a huge differentiator. If you can make that happen and respond to leads within the first minute, it increases your conversions by 391%, which is astounding. So all you’ve got to do is increase the speed to lead. I would say that’s the most important thing you need to do regarding sales. If you want to convert your leads, increase your speed to lead, and you’ve got almost everything done. Now let’s talk a little about healthcare and what makes healthcare practices unique. Okay?