I have had the luxury of meeting with hundreds of agency providers around the country and been blessed to discover how they have focused their referral outreach efforts. Some have blown me away with 21 point sales initiatives, while others may focus on hiring and developing talent. Still other agencies have absolutely no reps or plans to grow their business. Each market requires a different approach and what I have found to be true of each of these providers that are experiencing success, is that they have some form of interaction with their referral sources and community.
One mistake many sales trainers and even CRM companies like ours have the capacity to make is to quantify the sales process by the number of outreach individuals a company has. It’s really not about sales dedicated staff, it’s about your staff’s dedication to sales. Companies that know where they are going, who they are looking to reach, and what they need from the community at large will always outperform the agency that simply knows the services their agency can provide. I call companies those companies sales focused providers.
Are you a sales focused provider?
The first and most obvious way to know if your organization is sales focused is to answer this very simple question. Have you told every member of your company that they are responsible for selling? A major error made by an overwhelming number of agencies is to assume that their sales folks will sell their services, while their internal and field staff (clinical or not) need not concern themselves with sales. One bad day from a member of your internal staff and one unpleasant conversation with a referral source can put your referrals in jeopardy and lead to a mistake that could result in thousands if not millions in lost revenue.
Every single person working for your company represents a part of your brand, even if you and they don’t want to be in that position. Making your team aware that, like it or not, you are all brand ambassadors provides an expectation of excellence in customer service. If they can’t be nice, they can’t communicate with clients, residents, patients, or referrals sources.
What does being a sales focused provider mean?
Being sales-focused isn’t a huge challenge. People have an idea that sales is somehow a slimy business full of shady, back-alley transactions. It’s simply not true. The best sales people should never have to manipulate anyone to refer to them or purchase their offered services. It’s about knowing who you are as a company, what you offer, and having a willingness to serve. If you go and ask a random member of your non-sales staff, “How do we help patients (clients, residents, etc.)” and they cannot provide an answer, they need to have a better understanding of the impact of your services. Having your entire team able to verbalize how you can help converts them from an employee to a source of valuable information for referral sources and the community who may want to interact with your organization.
A sales focused provider values all customer interaction
The power of a sales focused provider and practicing the culture of sales, comes from a marked improvement in contact with those who can influence and work with your organization. One of the keys to gaining value from those interactions is communicate them internally. Does your sales team know about your phone interactions with a key referral source? Could those conversations be leveraged to grow your relationship? I have found on numerous occasions, that a referral source will send more referrals based on a good relationship with the intake person inside a facility then they would just working with a great outreach sales rep, liaison or marketer. If they work on two fronts it can provide an advantage. However, if they work together and the referral source feels that both the rep and the intake team are capable of helping them take care of their referred patient or client, the dynamics change. They are able to refer more patients because they trust that you can deliver what they need.
How do you become sales focused?
There is a good chance if you are a manager, administrator, or agency owner, then you already have a great deal of respect for referral source interaction. However, our industry often overlooks the value in training your entire staff to understand and verbalize the key offerings of your company. Here are three simple steps to take to initiate a company-wide sales focus.1. Tell everyone
Tell every person, and I mean down to your finance team and your IT folks. Everyone is now on this ship and we are setting our sails for growth. If they don’t know, they won’t know what you expect of them and will fail your expectations. No one wants to fail, even if it’s not their fault. It provides a sure way to feel dejected and eventually lose the loyalty of your staff.2. Over-communicate
There really is no such thing as over communicating. Some people can get annoyed by it, but watch how fast the excuses start appearing when the ball was dropped and someone “didn’t know it was their job.” Having weekly meetings and finding a way to track your customer interactions will greatly improve your outreach process. If you leverage a system like Enquire Solutions that manages both sales interactions and intake/internal interactions with referral sources it becomes easier to communicate these valuable interactions and enact a plan for success.
3. Break bread together
How often does your sales team interact with your internal staff? An office Christmas party is one thing, but ordering bagels every other Wednesday morning and encouraging your sales staff to come spend 30 minutes with their office-based counterparts without an agenda can help not only increase moral, but improve relationships. Not creating a simple space for face-to-face conversation is a missed opportunity to build lasting bonds.
Many of us grew up in a culture or working jobs where talking was looked down on and productivity was paramount. In the senior care business, talking may be the very most critical part of our responsibilities. Lives and livelihood are on the line and it’s up to us to communicate and function as one. That goes for both the referral source communication and internal communication. If you are looking to grow your business and maximize on the relationships you’ve built, consider how you communicate and the effectiveness of that communication.
At Enquire, we believe in the power of communication and challenging the idea that CRM systems need to be cumbersome and ridged. Fill out the information below to set up a free demo and discover how our clients are growing and receiving exactly what they want from our platform.