How long does it take to secure a patient/client?

There is a story that, in the 1960’s, Chiang Kai-shek, leader of the Chinese Republic was asked what he thought was the effect on society of The French Revolution 1789-1799?

His reply?

“Its too early to tell.”

In this 21st Century of ours we have been indoctrinated to think about the short term as a nano-moment.

The long term in business planning seems sometimes to have been redefined as “within the next 12 months”.

Results have to be instant:

  • “we tried a newsletter once but it didn’t work”
  • “we have been running Facebook for 6 months but it hasn’t generated any new patients yet”
  • “our advert isn’t working”
  • “I’ve told my reception team how to do this once but they still won’t do it”
  • “we printed referral cards but the associates won’t hand them out”
  • “you’ve been coaching us for 6 months now and sales are still static”
  • “that last customer didn’t buy anything”

Football managers come and go on the basis of a few results.

Governments are required to offer themselves for re-election long before any economic policy can become effective.

Apple train us to “need” new devices every two years and feel like Luddites if we don’t upgrade.

Consider then that today I am visiting a dentist in Leeds who first heard me speak in 1996 and decided before Christmas that it was time to get Chris Barrow in for the day to help plan the next 5-10 years.

The catalyst in this case is a proposed practice refurbishment and the magic “50th birthday”, encouraging him to think about the next decade.

He has been following my “stuff” for 17 years before making a purchasing decision.

Interesting that two of our new clients in the last quarter of 2013 were the same, having first connected with me similarly in 1996 and 1997 respectively.

About you….

Consider not just the existing patients in your database (who have an established level of trust already) but their family, friends and colleagues.

Consider also all the people who came to see you but didn’t buy.

Do you keep them in a database and do you periodically tickle their interest with real life stories of other patients whose lives you have transformed?

We spend so much money trying to get “new names”, when we have a vast reservoir of people we have met before.

“No” rarely means “no, never” – it most often means “no, not now” – and in marketing it is essential that you keep in touch with those people, waiting patiently for the day when their circumstances and/or core values change and they are ready to call you.

There are people who will have woken up this morning, having had enough of their existing smile and desiring a new one.

The catalyst can be a retirement, a divorce settlement, an adverse comment from a grandchild, the sale of a property, an inheritance.

Will they call you (because you kept in touch) or start looking around all over again?

17 years from speaking gig to a day’s coaching – not bad eh?

I’m in this for the long term – how about you?

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