Five-Step Sales for Physical Therapists Who Hate Selling
By Tannus Quatre, PT, MBA
I know you. Well, at least 80 percent of you.
You are a great physical therapist, maybe even the best in your area. You are passionate about quality care and you love the business side of physical therapy. Yet you are challenged by marketing.
In fact, you hate selling. You believe that physical therapy is not something to be “sold,” it is something that is needed.
While I, too, feel uncomfortable when stepping foot onto a used car lot, the concept of “sales” and “selling” is one that we cannot shy away from in physical therapy. It is a requirement for our survival.
Believe it or not, sales is something that can—and should—be delivered naturally, sincerely, and with authenticity.
Within physical therapy, this is best achieved through a five-step process, parts of which you are likely already doing today. Infuse a little strategy and polish into the process, and you will be well on your way toward sales efforts that work and that you will begin to love.
The five-step process looks like this:
- Awareness. Before all else, the target of your sales efforts must know you exist.
- Engagement. Once aware, you must engage their interest, or be forgotten.
- Education. Once engaged, you have the opportunity to share your value through education.
- Conversion. Once educated, you can comfortably make “the ask,” converting the sale.
- Amplification. Once the sale is made, you can now amplify sales through new relationships.
We will be diving into each of the above concepts over a five-part series in Impact, making you a physical therapy sales pro in no time. This five-step sales approach leverages your natural abilities as a physical therapist, moving you toward sales opportunities through an authentic and value-driven approach—one you can believe in.
In this article, we are going to start with step one:
Before we can even hope to sell, our target market must know we exist. Concepts such as branding, mindshare, and top-of-mind awareness come into play during this step, but this can all be boiled down to a simple premise: People can only buy something if they know it is there.
Think of the last tube of toothpaste, bottle of water, or oil change you purchased. Each of them had to be positioned in front of you, in some shape or form, before you could evaluate the purchase. You had to see it. You had to be aware.
Once aware—whether by walking past the toothpaste aisle in your supermarket or driving past your local oil and lube shop—you can then begin the process of evaluating each. Replace the awareness of your favorite brand with another, and your decision would put money into another brand’s pocket.
This awareness can come about actively or passively.
It happens actively when a consumer is looking for something specific to buy. They walk down the toothpaste aisle searching for their brand. They Google “oil and lube.” They ask a friend for a recommendation.
It happens passively when a consumer is not specifically looking for something to buy, and they may be sitting on the couch when they see a toothpaste commercial. They happen across a web advertisement related to their industry. A friend volunteers that they just had the best experience ever with their urologist. (It could happen.)
The same goes for physical therapy. Before we can expect a client to schedule time with us, they must know either actively or passively that we exist.Before we can expect a referral source to send a patient our way, they must know our name. Before our phone will ring, our number must be published. Before someone can “like” us on social media, we have to have a social media account in the first place.
You get the point.
The first step toward selling is simply to make sure your target market is aware of you. Once aware, you can then take the next step toward bringing them closer to the sale through engagement.
Here are a few examples that can be used to create awareness for you and your practice.
- Display prominent signage in and around your location.
- Have an active social media presence.
- Provide free information and updates to your community via email.
- Send periodic mailers to those within your neighborhood.
- Visit your top referral sources each month (even if just to check in to see how they are doing).
- Submit story ideas or business updates to your local press each month.
There are as many ways to get noticed as there are people to generate ideas on how to get noticed, so I encourage you to share your ideas with others.
Next month, we will tackle step two, the concept of engagement. Once you have got eyes on your practice, the next step is to start a conversation that leads somewhere. Engagement is how you will make this happen.
Tannus Quatre, PT, MBA, lives at the intersection of physical therapy and entrepreneurship, spending his time helping physical therapists build and operate successful practices through his company, Vantage Clinical Solutions. He specializes in marketing, finance, and business planning, and authors and speaks regularly for the APTA and PPS. He can be reached at email@example.com.