Many of our clients have marketing representatives or OD Liaisons who focus on market development and referral relationship management on a part- or full-time basis. The question we get asked the most – BY FAR – is how can Turf help them get access to optometrists, instead of the staff or manager, when visiting the practice.
Underlying the question is the understanding that getting an audience with the OD is critical. Pitching the front desk staff about your new Dry Eye / LipiFlow® program or Diopsys machine doesn’t move the needle. Bringing lunch for the staff like a pharma rep – and getting 30 seconds of the doctor’s time like a pharma rep – doesn’t accomplish much either.
With the exception of optician-owned optical shops, where the owner can determine or influence referral patterns, the optometrist controls where patients are referred.
Turf gets access to the optometrist on a cold call 90% of the time. (We have the stats on file.) Here are the 3 reasons why:
- Sales experience. Each Turf team member has over a decade of experience calling on office- based providers. We know how to present ourselves to the front desk and command an audience with the OD. This skill set is not easily transferred but can be over time, with increasing experience.
- INfrequency. The quickest way to curtail your access to the OD is to show up too often. Nobody likes a pest. Put yourself in the shoes of the front desk staff or office manager: Frame reps, lens reps, equipment reps, credit card reader reps, ophthalmology practice reps … walk up to them All. The. Time. They have work to do and patients to welcome and process. Now put yourself in the OD’s shoes – same thing AND they have patients to see. When Turf partners with practices over the long-term, we visit ODs at MOST once per quarter.
- Have a Reason to be there. If your objective for visiting the practice to see how things are going, stop and don’t go. Whether it’s an invitation to an event, information on a new procedure or surgeon, following-up on something the OD asked, or something else that’s truly of interest and valued by the OD … have a reason to be there. They’ll actually appreciate your visit. And most importantly they’ll welcome you back the next time.
Managers: As you evaluate your field personnel’s impact, consider the rate of access to the optometrist on a per-visit basis as a KPI.
Marketing representatives and OD Liaisons: Consider your approach to each office, whether currently a referring partner or one you’re looking to convert. Are you getting access? What is your objective in visiting? And are you bringing something of value to the optometrist?