It goes without saying that these are turbulent times in the healthcare industry and even well-established companies who have enjoyed a stable client base for decades find themselves traveling in unfamiliar waters.
For the first time ever, even Medical Billing companies who are experts at turning charges into cash and are providing excellent client service are losing clients due to various factors, many of which are beyond their control. Some common causes for client attrition are:
- The providers' decision to abandon their practices and become an employee of the hospital or another larger group. Essentially, they are throwing in the towel, saying that they want security versus uncertainty, given what the new healthcare legislation may have in store for the future of medicine.
- New physician graduates seem to be content to seek employment versus wanting to start up their own practice. The thought of adding to their college debt by funding a new practice isn't something at the top of their list. Plus having to deal with the other aspects of an independent practice like staffing doesn't seem very attractive.
- A competitor is offering a lower price, and your clients' loyalty to your firm, after you have helped them to be successful for many years, flies out the window.
So, what measures do you need to take to combat your shrinking client base? You need more than ever to dedicate a substantial amount of your time and resources to networking, marketing, and enhancing your selling skills.
Keep in mind that you can't hit a target unless you can see it, so you must decide what types of prospect to chase. Nobody has an unlimited amount of resources. You must determine the specialty, size of the practice, and geographical location of the prospects you'd like to turn into clients. Defining your market will allow you to build and implement a focused plan, and the more focused your plan, the better chance for success. You can't chase all the rabbits in the field at the same time.
There are three components that will help you grow. They are networking, marketing, and selling skills. The following outlines some ideas as to how to accomplish each component.
Networking involves interacting with people either in person at association meetings or via some other medium-email, phone, etc. Remember that networking isn't about you; it's about them. Your goal when meeting people is to see how you can help them, not how they can help you. When you help others succeed, they will eventually help you to succeed.
Marketing can take on many facets and varying degrees of economic investment. Start with a dynamic website; not having an excellent website today is like not having a fax machine 10 years ago. I haven't found advertising to be very effective; instead, I recommend that you write articles for trade journals that your prospects read, or speak at meetings that they attend. Remember that when you are speaking at a trade show, your goal is to tell, not to sell. Share information about a topic that is relevant to your audience, but never promote yourself or your company. When they perceive that you are an expert, they will seek you out.
Selling Skills is the final important component to help you grow, though I doubt you took classes in high school or college attending how to sell-but thank goodness we all had calculus since we use calculus every day. While we might not need calculus, if we want to stay in business, we definitely need selling skills. And it's not true that some people are born to sell; selling is a learned skill and requires development and practice just like every other skill. To improve, you can read or listen to some of the thousands of books written on the subject, attend training seminars, listen to podcasts from various sales experts, and more.
People often ask me what book on selling they should buy; I remind them that it isn't what they buy, but rather, it's what they read.
The key is that you can't just sit by your phone and hope that prospects will call you begging to use your services. You need to develop a plan, acquire the necessary skills, and then most importantly, execute your plan. You can have an excellent strategy, but if it is not implemented, you are no better off than a person without a plan.
Dave Jakielo is an International Speaker, Consultant dedicated to the Medical Billing Industry, Executive Coach, and Author, and is President of Seminars & Consulting. Dave is past President of Healthcare Business and Management Association and the National Speakers Association, Pittsburgh. Sign up for his FREE weekly Success Tips at www.Davespeaks.com. Dave can be reached via email Dave@Davespeaks.com; phone 412-921-0976.