Read time: 9 minutes
It’s true, you should talk to your plants to help them grow. In a controlled experiment, the great-great granddaughter of Charles Darwin read to her tomato plant (excerpts from The Origin of Species, naturally) and it grew comparably taller than the other, less ‘nurtured’ tomato plants.
Whether or not the sound of Sarah Darwin’s voice had any bearing on the growth rate of her tomatoes, we all know that if you leave a plant out in all weathers, with no encouragement or attention, then it’s unlikely to flourish. It’s the same with your leads. To convert an enquiry into a paying patient, you need to nurture their interest. Leave them high and dry and they’ll disappear to become someone else’s patient.
Here are seven fail-safe steps to keep converting leads.
7 steps to nurture leads to conversion
1. Constant communication
Your lead needs communication like a plant needs water – a steady flow of it. Commonly, many will give up on a lead after the first two failed attempts (no-one likes rejection). However, recent studies have shown that 80 percent of sales require five follow-up calls. Try to work five touch points into your lead nurture process using a combination of phone calls and emails and, where appropriate, social media.
Automated emails and SMS messages are a great way to make sure that a new lead gets an immediate response. With busy practices, you may not have the staff capacity to respond to email enquiries as soon as they come in. Personalised emails do have a higher conversion rate than generic automated emails, but the consistency and quality of your communications will have a huge part to play in nurturing leads, especially in those vital first hours.
2. The power of speech
Automated emails can be great for making sure that no one is missed, but nothing beats speaking one human to another. You can nurture leads using the good old-fashioned telephone, after all that’s what our mobile devices were originally designed for.
Google found that 70 percent of mobile phone owners used the ‘click-to-call’ option when browsing businesses on their phones – and they expect this number to rise. It’s a known fact that leads who call your practice are more likely to convert, and faster, than those who fill in forms or emails.
A personalised experience over the phone sends a clear message that you are available and on-hand. If you are agreeing to follow up a lead with another phone call, make sure that you ask them what day and time is best suits them for the next ‘nurture’ point. This makes everyone’s lives easier, and reduces the risk of them not being able to answer to the phone.
3. The right time to convert
Which brings us to the next step – timely follow-ups. You want to connect with the right lead, at the right time and with the right content. A prompt response is crucial in the first instance. It’s best to respond to an initial enquiry within the hour, and then it’s about keeping the lines open. Call back when you say you will and provide any relevant information and guidance. Even if your lead is not ready to become a patient, it’s worth keeping them up-to-date with query-focussed messaging that is consistent, concise and on-brand.
When it comes to timing your communications, always work with feedback. Each time a person contacts your practice they are providing you with more information about their needs. Do they work nine-to-five? If so, then a call at lunch time or at the weekend might be more suited to them than, say, 3pm. Or they may prefer some online content that they can browse while at work or on their commute. Responding to these needs is part of your feedback loop, so you can nurture your lead on their terms.
4. Be sensitive
You want to be persistent in following up leads, but not pushy. There’s a delicate balance between over- and under-communicating and the key to finding this balance it is to listen to your leads, don’t repeat what you’ve already said, and don’t overdo it.
If you’ve sent your lead an email and a left them a voicemail, wait for least 48 hours before trying them again. If a prospective patient feels harassed, then the process will feel like a sales pitch and they’ll look elsewhere. You want to let them know that you can help with any queries and provide the relevant material to help them make a decision as to whether to take their enquiry to the next stage.
5. Think outside the inbox
Email has been the primary method used to nurture leads for a long time, but now it’s come to a point where email conversion rates are some of the lowest. But when people aren’t checking their inbox, they’re definitely checking their social media accounts. Don’t be afraid to engage with potential customers on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and whatever platforms you have live. Stay professional, but be friendly and approachable, and if a lead sends a message to your practice using social media, make sure you reply swiftly.
Don’t leave out mobile nurtures. With over 60 percent of web traffic happening on mobile devices, it’s important to be aware of your on-the-go leads. Make sure your website is mobile friendly and that you have text messages integrated into your marketing and follow-up service. Remember what we said earlier about phone calls? If your practice is easy to call from a mobile device, then your leads are going to find it easier to start, or continue, their journey with you.
6. Follow-up consultations
We know that not everyone who comes in for a consultation is going to book a treatment straight away. This could be due to financial concerns, dental phobia, time constraints or simply a change of mood. So, how do you follow up a consultation without being pushy about it? Again, it’s about understanding the needs of your leads. Give them a call to remind them of what you spoke about, or drop them an email with information about the treatment they were interested in. Remember not to repeat yourself and try to offer them something new. If you feel that they may be concerned about finances, for example, maybe direct them to an offer that your practice is running, or a payment plan.
If they are not going to book a follow-up appointment or treatment, make sure you keep them on a mailing list, so that your details are accessible should they need you further down the line.
7. Get DenGro
Lead management software can be one of the easiest ways to streamline your lead nurture system, and take the pressure off front-of-house.
DenGro is specifically made for dental practices and will help you hit steps one to six to nurture your prospective patients to conversion. DenGro features communication tracking to stay on top of your lead status, complete with easily accessible contact details and notes, and a notification process to alert you and your staff when a potential patient needs a call. Automated SMS messages and emails that are tailored to treatments ensure that they have an immediate, relevant response to their enquiry. DenGro can also show you which leads have come from social media campaigns and can gather information from your leads on the best time and method of contacting them.
DenGro is effectively an irrigation system to nurture your seedling leads. Just like Darwin’s great-great granddaughter, it keeps talking to them, responds to their needs and lets them know they’re not forgotten. Perhaps we are witnessing the evolution of the lead management species.