One of the key things you learn from looking at market intelligence data year after year is that the actual referring physicians rarely change. Though the volume of referrals may inch up or down, and who they refer to can change every day, the main referring physicians rarely stop being your high-value targets. So that begs the question: How do I get my other potential physicians to start sending orders or increase their referrals?
One of the most important things to keep in mind is that every high-referring physician didn’t start out that way. They first had to have a reason to refer. Then they needed a reason to keep referring. That reason could be patient need, billable income, or even desire to get their nagging patient to stop calling them every day. Finding or creating that catalyst that turns a “potential” referral source into a “proven” referral source takes a bit of strategy.
Here are a few ways to approach new referral sources.
Make sure the conditions are right
The first thing to consider is that you need the right conditions or it simply may not be worth your investment. The doctors you are focusing your efforts on should at least work with the same patient demographic that you target and have a substantial volume of patients meeting your service criteria.
Know how you are unique
One of the biggest disappointments a referral source can experience is having their time wasted by a sales rep. If you or your sales team cannot tell a prospective referral source what makes your company unique, then you have a problem that needs a remedy. One of the keys to creating a referral source that hasn’t referred before is to understand that what they have already seen and heard from your competitors hasn’t been good enough. No one has brought the sales pitch or value proposition that created a believer out of that doctor. Simply repeating what they have already heard and not separating yourself from the others has a very low chance of making an impact. It also has a high chance of making them feel like you’ve wasted their time.
Solve a problem
Solving a problem requires a skill set that many sales reps are unfortunately lacking. You have to ask probing questions and listen to the answers. This will provide you a glimpse into what the physician needs from you. There are so many examples of great probing questions, but I’ll save you a full dissertation and get to the point. You need to find out what patient and non-patient issues truly resonate with your physician and propose solutions to those issues. If the practice is struggling financially, simplify the billing process for using your services and help walk them through the monetary value of referring. If they have non-compliant patients, show them how being in the home setting can increase compliance. While it all seems very simple, these question and answer sessions can transform your doctor into a referral source that will most likely continue referring to you, if you can provide them a solution to their issues.
Have a physician advocate help
One solid way to connect with physicians who are currently not referring is to show them a physician who is. Plan an in-service and bring your medical director along. Spend a few minutes with your medical director before the meeting to strategize on how you are going to approach your prospect to highlight the benefits it has provided your medical director. One of the ways to optimize the effectiveness of this is to ensure you have already asked probing questions and have collaborated with your director to provide the solutions that worked. This team approach is a sure-fire way to motivate your potential referral sources.
With so many outside forces competing for the attention of the physicians in your market, it can be hard to rise above the noise. Make it a priority to fit at least one new physician into your visit schedule each week. This creates an opportunity to create new referral sources where none existed before.