In Part I of this post, we talked about how getting access to the doctor (OD in this case) is paramount to affecting the referral relationship – whether maintaining and existing, strong one, or working to convert a non- or partially-referring OD.
Here in Part II, we’ll provide an example of just how critical it is that the marketing reps or OD Liaisons are getting access to the ODs.
An ophthalmologist in N.C. has been a Turf client for multiple years. In our initial market audit, we met an OD who is the owner of a 2-location practice he operates with his optometrist daughter. Their practice is busy and growing – and sophisticated, with OCT, fundus camera, billing Medicare and private insurances.
Our client had an OD Liaison for the 2.5 years prior to our initial engagement. Unfortunately, she had never met this optometrist. She wasn’t able to get past the front desk – whatever the staff was walking back to say to him wasn’t enough to prompt him to grant her his time.
Turf visited the practice with something of value: The opportunity to meet our client in an different setting than ODs are typically invited to. The doctor granted me a few minutes, which expanded into 20 to 25. Here’s how that discussion went in a nutshell and with paraphrasing:
- I wasn’t there to ask for referrals. I wasn’t there to tell him our client has the best technology and does the latest procedures. I was there to find out what’s important to him and what we (our client) can be doing differently. I verbalized this to him. “I appreciate that you’re not here selling me and that you’re here to find out what’s important to me,” he said.
- He then opened up and revealed that a) he thinks our client is a terrific surgeon and he’d like to refer to him; b) he’s been hesitant because our client does a good amount of premium lenses and many of his patients are on a fixed income, so he refers elsewhere. In short, because I was there asking questions instead of selling, he told me exactly what the barrier to a referral relationship was.
- I invited this OD to a small dinner and suggested he come 30 minutes early so he and our client could discuss 1-on-1. He did – and he forewent attending a CE event put on by another group on the same evening.
- We strategized with our client ahead of the meeting. Our client reviewed with the OD how he presents premium IOLs to patients – not selling, but explaining and letting the patient decide. And he offered that the OD could to let him know if the patient should be in a standard lens. After all, these are the optometrist's patients for whom our client is providing a service.
The result – the OD was relieved and excited. His issue was uncovered and addressed. He now felt comfortable referring cataract candidates to the surgeon he thinks very highly of. Our client has received nearly all of the cataract referrals from the OD and his daughter for the past 2 years.
This started with Getting to the Doctor. Nothing in any market will change until that happens.