The Three Best Ways to Get New Clients
Implement new strategies without forgetting old tactics.
By Mark Murphy, DDS
You have heard or read the author pontificating on how to improve your business by first working on client retention, then making sure you have a fair percentage of their laboratory bill, and finally addressing the issue of new clients. If you have been diligent on the first two issues, then you should have new clients who ideally have higher than average laboratory bills with your business. If that is not the case, go back to Start, do not collect $200, re-read my previous articles (www.dentalaegis.com/idt), and start again. Then, when you are ready, employ the three strategies outlined below to acquire new clients.
Go Where They Go
When asked why he robbed banks, the notorious Willie Sutton replied, “Because that is where the money is.” Dentists who attend courses at learning institutes such as Pankey, LVI (Las Vegas Institute for Advanced Dental Studios), Kois Center, Spear, and the Dawson Academy often hang out and learn alongside other like-minded individuals. LVI offers a technician training program. The Dawson Academy formed a laboratory association. Spear created a study club network larger than the Seattle Study Club. The Pankey Institute allows technicians to attend with their clients for a reduced rate. (If three dentists attend a course their technician receives free tuition.) These are formalized educational systems that help you spend time with the like-minded folks you serve and want to serve more of. You get to learn their language, stories, and cultures. In addition to excellent technical deliverables, these learning institutions provide opportunities to help nurture strong relationships. And strong, trusting relationships are the foundation of the dental laboratory profession. Whatever type of target market you serve, spend time where they do. You just might make a few new friends and cement friendships with current clients.
“Hire” a Free Salesperson
This is not someone you would have to issue a W2 to at the end of the year. Rather, “hire” some of the sales people that call on you and who also serve the dental clinical market. Several dental laboratory vendor partners and suppliers also have access and relationships inside dentistry. An implant salesperson, for example, usually knows which clinicians are doing what. They may be able to help introduce you to some select clients who fit your ideal profile. Be open, honest, trustworthy, and loyal to the right salespeople and they can help you if you help them. It would not be fair to expect a representative to help you if you are not using their products, supplies, or processes. By working together and sharing resources and relationships, you may both have a greater success.
In every study I have ever read for dental laboratory business development, the number one source of new clients has always been referrals from existing customers. Focus on that, and drain it dry before you do anything else. Ask your best and favorite doctors to refer to you. Role-play and draft a script with your team on how you want the conversation to sound. Studies have shown that your clients will be flattered if you ask them in the right way. Try to include the following phrases, but in your own voice:
• “May I ask your help with something?”
• “We are not trying to be the largest laboratory in any town in this state. In fact, if every doctor wanted to send their work to us, we couldn’t possibly do that much.”
• “I have really enjoyed our relationship and doing work for someone like you.”
• “If you should happen to think of someone who would be right for our laboratory, could you mention our name to them and recommend us?”
Conversion, Percentage, and Retention—CPR
By using this strategy in the right order and by measuring the right things, you will build a solid framework for your strategic planning and prevent yourself and your dental laboratory business from needing the other kind of CPR.
About the Author
Mark T. Murphy, DDS, is the vice president of sales and clinical education for Microdental-DTI.