Five-Step Sales for Physical Therapists Who Hate Selling


Step 2: Engage your target audience

By Tannus Quatre, PT, MBA

Last month, we covered the notion that physical therapists hate selling.

We also discussed that selling is something that can—and should—be delivered naturally by physical therapists, and many of the preconceived ideas we have about sales are wrong.

Selling can be fun. And, if we believe in what we are selling, it could be argued that it is our ethical responsibility to sell.

The five easy steps of selling are:

    1. Awareness. Before all else, the target of your sales efforts must know you exist.
    2. Engagement. Once aware, you must engage their interest, or be forgotten.
    3. Education. Once engaged, you have the opportunity to share your value through education.
    4. Conversion. Once educated, you can comfortably make “the ask,” converting the sale.
    5. Amplification. Once the sale is made, you can now amplify sales through new relationships.

    Last month we discussed Awareness, acknowledging that before we can sell to someone, they have to know we exist. For the math nerds, this can be quantified by something like:

    1 great message x 0 listeners = 0 listeners who have heard your great message

    And awareness is where it all starts.

    Once your customer (or customer segment) is aware, however, you are still not ready to dive in and make the sale.

    You can try—and sometimes you will get lucky—but if you are playing the odds, you need to engage your audience before you can ask them to buy from you (and by “buy,” I am referring to scheduling an appointment, making a referral, or anything else that is going to benefit you).

    Think of the last time you took someone’s advice.

    Was it from someone you knew? Likely.

    Someone you trusted? Hopefully.

    A perfect stranger? Never (Remember “stranger danger”? Well, it applies here, too).

    When you are selling, you are giving your prospective customer some advice. You are advising them to buy from you. And you cannot advise a stranger.

    So you have to engage.

    Engagement brings you one step closer to your prospective client. It takes the awareness you have created, and molds it into a friendly and trusting resource which—at some point in the future—can provide the advice: “Buy from me.”

    So how do we engage? Lots of ways.

    Here are some examples that can be used to engage your audience, building a foundation that will allow you to eventually gain the trust of your potential clientele.

    Examples of how to engage the community at large (businesses, consumers)

    • Like or Follow the social media accounts of businesses you wish to target. Comment on their posts, share their posts with your network, and provide value by sharing information your target businesses may find useful.
    • Demonstrate your value to the local consumer market through free screenings, educational sessions, and guest lectures for synergistic businesses. Take the time to engage with your audience during and after these opportunities, and follow up personally (via email, phone, or other) with every contact made with a potential customer.
    • Make your contact information publicly available, and respond in a timely way to pings via social media, email, or phone. Consumers are on the constant prowl for resources to help them, and they will reach out to those they find most readily engaging. It will be you or your competitor.

    Examples of how to engage professional referral sources (physicians, health care professionals)

    • Strike up a relationship with the office staff of your target referral sources. These are ambassadors who—once engaged—will help you immensely as you try to work toward referral decision makers. Know there is no relationship that is “beneath” you, and forming engaging relationships with office staff is often overlooked by your competition. Use it.
    • Collect and document personal information about your professional referral sources and use it in your conversations with them. It is not creepy—it is smart. While your competition is boring your target physician with details about their education and background, you should be asking about their spouse and children by name. It will win every time.
    • Use personal channels to communicate, such as email, handwritten notes, and social media. Personal channels are, well, personal. They stand apart from the networking luncheons used by your competitors. It allows for a level of engagement that will distance you from others vying for time from your target audience.

    There are many, many ways to engage your audience and a good rule of thumb is “What works on me?”

    We are all the target of many a salesperson and the information we use to determine from whom we buy is useful in our own engagement tactics. Dissect the last time someone actually made an inroad with you that led to a sale, and see if that could work for you as well. It probably will.

    Next month, we will tackle step three, the concept of Education. You do it every day, but are you using it as a tool in your sales toolbox? We will find out next month.

    Until then, find me online at @tannusquatre and let me know how you are engaging your target market. You will find that I do as I say—I will engage you.


    Tannus Quatre, PT, MBA, is a physical therapist and entrepreneur dedicated to improving the profession through innovative business and marketing solutions. His work can be seen in such projects as PT Pub Night® and, as well as through numerous speaking and authored contributions to American Physical Therapy Association (APTA) and Private Practice Section (PPS). He is president of Vantage Clinical Solutions and can be reached at

Copyright © 2018, Private Practice Section of the American Physical Therapy Association. All Rights Reserved.

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