Yes, I know, the very notion of you, a clinician, reading about a ‘sales funnel’ in connection to the delivery of medicine makes you cringe.
But I’m a business development guy who focuses on these things, and I’m convinced these seven steps will help your practice thrive.
I think we can readily agree that any enterprise, including integrative, functional, and concierge medicine practices, requires a steady flow of new customers (aka patients) to be successful.
Having advised scores of clinics and other types of integrative health enterprises over the years, I know most organizations don’t capture and convert enough flow to fill their appointment books.
Unless, through other means, you’ve created powerful word-of-mouth referrals to keep you booked for months in advance, you need a well-oiled sales pipeline—a funnel—that collects leads and converts prospects to customers.
The art of effectively bringing consumers down through the proverbial sales funnel, to become a patient or client, should be as solid as the science and expertise that drives your integrative and functional clinical care delivery model.
Done right, the funnel can also provide your customers with important educational information that helps them in their journey in health creation.
Leaky Funnel Syndrome
You may be the top integrative provider in your community, but if you haven’t devised a way to capture the dwindling attention span of a 21st century consumer, and convinced that prospect to take the next step, like booking an appointment, what good is your superb clinical delivery prowess?
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Your basic sales funnel can be developed using digital and non-digital approaches with the following 7 core components:
1. Modern, Clean Website Design with Tight Messaging
Your website is your ‘home base’ and, unlike social media networks, you own the platform. This is called ‘owned media’. As such, your site is a foundational part of the sales funnel process and you risk losing a lot of business by not getting it right.
If you have not invested in a modern, professionally designed and programmed site—one that aligns with today’s digital marketing best practices—then you are not positioned for success.
The stopwatch begins the nanosecond a consumer lands on your site. Within 7 seconds that person has either ventured deeper into your site or clicked out.
Does your site clearly and quickly communicate the next step a visitor should take?
Modern website design and communications best practices, for converting viewers to buyers, dictate clean profiles with concise messaging. If your website is older than five years, you may need a significant redesign if not a complete redo. Successful sites have fewer pages, tighter messaging, and smart navigation. They feature large images, photographs, and other graphical elements to seamlessly guide viewers through the site.
This fast-changing environment is centered on responsive design; specifically, how web pages appear across all the screens of all computing devices. Because scrolling is easier than clicking (on today’s small devices) modern web design focuses on longer scrolling homepages, and eliminates sidebars and reduces the areas on which to click.
Given that over half of all searches today are done using mobile devices, if your site is not responsive and easy to navigate you have seriously impeded your sales funnel, therefore losing the ability to convert prospects to patients and clients.
How does your site appear on a smart phone or a tablet?
2. Build Your List. Start with a Subscription Form
In a perfect world, having people ‘want’ to hear from you is key to growing a successful sales funnel.
Asking folks to subscribe must be a primary call-to-action. Subscribing is the first action you want people to take when they arrive at your website. (Well, it would be preferable they select ‘make an appointment’ button or phone your office for one, but we’ll get to that later.)
KISS them. Yes, keep it
simple, stupid super simple, asking for the bare minimum. Signup rates drop significantly when subscribers are asked for additional information during the process.
Set up the subscription request on the homepage (not a click away), and ask for a first name and email address only. You can collect more data later to further segment your lists.
Building a subscription list is vital to building a sales funnel. Your list is such an important part of the sales funnel that I have offered 27 ways to go about growing it.
In my view, only word-of-mouth marketing is more valuable; and it can be said that a subscriber list also feeds word-of-mouth referrals.
Placement of subscription forms:
• Top half of website homepage placed in prominent area.
• Static placement in prominent area on every page of your site.
• Modal exit form: a form that pops up and asks for subscription when visitors leave the site. In this way it does not interrupt an active user experience. Modal exit forms are proven highly effective: check out samples, here.
3. Niche Down to Create Meaningful Content
Focus on one or two core areas of clinical expertise (example: gut health, weight loss, cancer support) to differentiate your clinical niche and expertise. It’s always best to go deep before going wide.
Develop a content plan that includes a ‘free gift’ (e-book, guide, how-to) prominently displayed on your homepage to entice visitors to ‘subscribe’. This exclusive offer will be traded in exchange for an invaluable email address; the reciprocity of such, over time, establishes relationships and builds trust.
As part of your overarching content strategy create 400-600 word blog posts, short explainer videos, and other select content and publish same to your website. Make sure to:
• Follow best practices for integrative health blog post creation and video creation.
• Include a social share bar to stimulate wider distribution.
(This is the horizontal or vertical bar containing social media platforms, making it easy for folks to share.)
• Include call-to-action for subscribers to make appointments at the end of each post.
(Link text to an appointment calendar form or phone number—example: at the end of a blog post on IBS, include something like: “Having digestion problems? Schedule a consultation with gut health expert Dr. Smith today.” A static “make an appointment” graphic with form should also appear on each page.)
4. Attach Social Media Efforts to Your Sales Funnel
I recently wrote a post that discusses the best social media platforms to grow integrative and functional medicine practices. I explain how social media is still best for engaging, listening, and sharing information. I typically recommend that companies provide useful tips and information at a ratio of 10:1 for each time the company asks or pitches anything. Directing prospects to relevant content published on your own site is a powerful way to bring ‘social’ prospects through your sales funnel.
5. Auto-Responder and Drip Email Series Successfully Pulls Prospects Down the Sales Funnel
When folks sign up to receive your free gift or to receive regular articles from your clinic, they should also receive an auto-responder series of email messages that confirms the subscription, tells them what to expect from you and how often they should expect to hear from you.
It is relatively easy to send automated communications to your new subscribers—and new patients—using your email marketing system (i.e., Mail Chimp, A-Weber, Constant Contact, InfusionSoft).
A schedule of communications that focus on useful and engaging content gets you and your brand in front of prospects and patients with continuity. This serves to educate, earn respect, and establish trust.
A carefully crafted content distribution strategy, leading to a call-to-action such as ‘book an appointment’ or ‘schedule a 15-minute complimentary consult’, can consistently bring folks down the sales funnel.
A newsletter is a critical component of the marketing mix. It leads to more sales than social, by a long stretch. Fact: 94% of the public still regularly use email.
For my consultancy, FON, our newsletter is our most valuable asset. It produces more high quality leads and booked business than any other single effort.
Effective marketing includes having an excerpt of your core blog and other content in your newsletter template linked to your website. The goal is to drive traffic from the email communication (your newsletter) to the call-to-action at the end of your blog and other content. The newsletter itself should also include a tasteful call-to-action, which can be a textual link and/or a graphical button. Example: [BOOK A 15-MINUTE CONSULT]
People who receive your newsletter have already opted-in to hear from you. They are ‘in your funnel’. The idea here is to get them to drop on down and become a patient or client.
Here’s a useful article on why integrative and functional medicine practices should launch a newsletter.
7. Consumer Community Outreach
A terrific way to augment your funnel filling efforts is to present your unique integrative or functional medicine delivery clinical prowess in your community.
Sure, you can invite current patient or clients to attend your talks but, in the effort to fill the sales funnel with more prospects, you will need to seek collaborations with philosophically aligned organizations—for profit and nonprofit alike. These critical partnerships allow you to reach platforms and communities that are larger than your own, thus expanding the net to feed your funnel.
Potential partners and venues could include health fairs, community centers, health food and grocery stores, health clubs, and busy yoga studios; the list is endless.
Offer a call-to-action at the end of your presentations by offering a 15-minute consult on whatever matches to the subject of your talk. Pass around a clipboard or an iPad or tablet with a signup app to collect names from those who want to receive more great content.
[More on community outreach and education can be found here].
8. High Quality Customer Service Ensures a Full Sales Funnel
Okay, there are 8 critical steps, not 7. Call it a purposeful bonus to illustrate scientific proof that odd number lists on blog posts do better than even ones. (Shh—our secret.)
However, the point of this final critical point is that you could do a tremendous job implementing the preceding 7 steps, but without high quality customer service—taking care of those patients, clients, and prospects in front of you, and those who have been successfully funneled—you will not realize complete success, and neither will your patients with respect to their health needs.
Exemplary customer care—clinical and customer service—leads to patient retention and word-of-mouth. Word-of-mouth referrals are the lifeblood of every enterprise. Serve all clients well and each will contribute to keeping the sales funnel full so that new customers will arrive each day.
[Read about earning the lifetime value of a patient here.]
You may do a bang-up job filling the sales funnel, but the person who represents your business or practice—receiving emails and phone calls—holds the door open. Avoid leaky funnel syndrome by ensuring that the staffers in charge of customer service (aka patient or customer engagement) are personable, highly trained, well informed, and understand the funnel system, thus converting inquires to booked business.
You need an effective sales funnel to convert leads to prospects and prospects to customers. By investing today in a smart, cost-effective, and executable Sales Funnel Strategy you will strengthen the lifeblood—new patients and customers—of your enterprise and ensure its long-term success.
FON is a leading integrative health and medicine business development and strategy consulting firm. FON specializes in custom solutions for growing patient volume, developing programs, and increasing product sales. Our practical business models are driven by innovative marketing, clear messaging, and customer engagement via branded storytelling.
Contact us today to schedule a complimentary 30-minute consultation to discuss your business development or personal brand needs.