We often get asked about the difference between sales and marketing and how they work together. Marketing and sales are two closely related concepts that are equally essential if you want to increase revenue for a practice. Understanding the synergy between them is the key to growth.
In a nutshell, marketing is the art of attracting people to your practice. It involves creating and implementing various strategies to capture the interest of a certain target audience of potential patients, compelling them to engage with your practice. The process of marketing your practice should be ongoing and consistent, and when executed effectively, you should see high-quality patients coming through your doors.
Sales is the art of getting a potential patient to become an actual patient who spends money at your practice. A successful sale means that the patient who has responded to your marketing not only schedules an appointment, but also shows up and follows through with a treatment of some kind. Sales increase the bottom line.
Marketing + Sales
Marketing and sales are complementary concepts, and one cannot be truly successful without the other. For example, your practice can have a brilliant marketing campaign that creates a lot of buzz, but if people are not actually committing to appointments and accepting treatment plans, then your marketing efforts are not really paying off. On the other hand, if you have a top-notch team that can “sell” like champs but you don’t market your practice, then most of your prospective patients won’t even know you exist. In either scenario, your practice will not see substantial revenue growth.
Marketing + Sales = $$$
To achieve real growth, your practice must engage in marketing and sales simultaneously. This means that marketing does not end once the patient makes contact and that sales must become the natural result of your marketing efforts. To simplify it further, marketing should be considered a pre-sales activity that gets people to make contact. And once that happens, marketing morphs into sales. So how do you make sure that your marketing efforts actually turn into sales?
Engage – When a prospective patient makes contact, whether via an online request or by calling the office, respond as soon as possible. The best scenario is when someone calls in and one of your team members is able to answer immediately. However, there are other times when the phone goes to an answering service or voicemail, or the prospective patient fills out an online request for an appointment. In these cases, it is essential to get back to them right away. Letting messages and online inquiries go unanswered for days sends the message that your practice doesn’t really want their business (which is of course not true). The quicker you can respond to patient inquiries, the higher the chance those inquiries will turn into booked appointments.
Don’t Give Up – Along the same lines, when responding to a patient inquiry, if your team is unable to make contact after the first try, they must absolutely keep trying until there is some type of real conversation. People are busy, just like your staff is, and if they are not reachable at the time your team attempts to contact them, it doesn’t mean they’ve lost interest, it just means they’re unavailable at that moment. Having a contact plan is a helpful strategy in making sales. For instance, if the patient is not reachable after the first attempt, your team should try again later that day or the next morning. If the second attempt is unsuccessful, reach out via email or text (if possible). Attempt contact again after another day or two, then at the end of the week, and so on, for a set period of maybe two or three weeks, or until contact is successful. When your team makes an effort to contact a prospective patient more than once, that person will appreciate it and be more likely to respond in kind.
Now, Hook ’em – So you’ve made contact and the patient has agreed to come in for an appointment — congratulations! But the sales process is not over yet. The next step is to ensure that the patient keeps the appointment and follows through with some type of treatment. This is where the staff’s people skills really come into play. A patient who feels welcome and comfortable in your office is going to be more open to treatment recommendations. The hygienist and the doctor are also important players at this stage. They must appear professional, knowledgeable, trustworthy, honest, and friendly. This seems like a lot, but let’s think about it for a moment. When a patient is in the dental chair, they feel vulnerable and oftentimes anxious. The hygienist, assistant and the doctor’s demeanor can do a lot to either heighten their anxiety or calm them down. A calm, relaxed patient is a happy patient, and a happy patient will listen to treatment recommendations and follow through.
It seems complicated, but it really is not if you’re willing to put forth the effort to make the marketing and sales processes work for your practice. Of course, it doesn’t hurt to have an experienced professional dental marketing agency on your side to help you implement strategies, guide your efforts, and track your results. With planning, diligence, and the right outlook, your practice can easily unlock the potential of the marketing and sales combo.