Marketing As A Team Sport – Is Your Team Ready To Compete?

August 9, 2012 | Marketing |

With the veterinary industry becoming more competitive every day, you need to be running your practice more and more like a business.  After all, along with being a pet health care provider, you are also an entrepreneur who has a vision for achieving success.

Get a winning game plan.

I can tell you from my own experience that success in business starts when you have the right game plan and the right people around an avid sports fan, I’m amazed by how many times the team with the most individual talent does not win the championship.  The Boston Bruins, New York Giants, Dallas Mavericks, St. Louis Cardinals are the
defending champions in their respective sports.  But in each of their league finals, these teams all beat opponents that had superior lineups on paper.  How did they do it?   They had a winning game plan and a great team to make the game plan happen.

I enjoy taking the role of a practice marketing coach with my clients. first, we create a winning game plan together, and then bring the team together to really “work” the plan.  This “bringing together” usually begins with a marketing team rally, where my goal is to begin installing more of a sales and marketing-minded culture in the practice.

Play with a team system.

While this team sport analogy may seem like a basic enough concept, I am amazed at how few veterinary practices actually work their marketing with any kind of team system.

I have a client where the doctor made a significant marketing investment in transitioning his newly purchased practice.  The project involved brand and logo design, a new website design and a customer-directed newsletter to inform customers about the exciting changes happening at the practice.  Then it was time to begin marketing externally to attract new customers with a professional mailer program.  The piece looked great and went out
as planned to the targeted local community.  Everything was in place – except the team piece.  No one had informed the front desk that these pieces were about to land and to be ready for the incoming calls.  The phone rang, but the front desk was not ready.  With the first mailing of that campaign, our response rate was good, but our conversion rate was
only 14%.  For each of the next three mailings, we were ready, and the conversion on average rose to a very healthy 72%.

Putting marketing meetings into play.

Good teamwork starts with good communication. many practices I meet already have regular team meetings to discuss everything going on with the practice.  However, it’s time to make the marketing of your practice part of these meetings as well.  You would be amazed at the benefit realized by simply committing a 15 minute block every month to
this discussion.

Regular team marketing meetings are a must.
Here are five big ideas to help you make the most of these sessions together:

1. LEAD BY EXAMPLE: Walk your talk.  Practice what you preach.  Set the tone.  Communicate well.
2. PUT THE RIGHT PEOPLE ON YOUR TEAM:  all it takes is one bad player to upset the chemistry of what we are trying to do.  sometimes changes to the team lineup are required.
3. APPOINT A TEAM MARKETING LEAD:  They are playing in the game themselves, and have the initiative and trust from the team to lead the charge.
4. SHARE RESULTS WITH YOUR TEAM: Track the metrics.  Get testimonials.  Get feedback and share with your group.
5. STUDY THE COMPETITIVE LANDSCAPE:  Have everyone engaged on your team keep an eye on what your competitors are doing – so as to best differentiate and position the brand of your practice.

The Dreaded “S” Word.

The first thing to understand is that at some level, we are all already sales people, actively selling something every day.  For example, i am a sales and marketing professional who deals with many existing clients and new business opportunities every day.  Still, on many days, my best selling happens at home, at about 8:15am, when i am trying to convince my
two-and-a-half year old daughter to wear sneakers to school versus princess party shoes.

Proactive Selling = “communicating softly”.

The second thing to understand is that the selling that we are doing here is not to be confused with the selling that happens at your local A-1 fine motor sales. The selling here is about a soft approach that is all about leveraging the great relationships and trust that are already in place with our customers.

Once things really get rolling and your team has embraced this new idea of proactive selling, it is really interesting to watch how every team member develops their own unique
style. One of the easiest ways to observe your team in action is with a referral program. set a target for everyone to ask one customer for a referral per day and see how they go
about making this happen.

Spark selling opportunities.

Selling is about everyone finding their best opportunities to spark a discussion – and then making the most of that opportunity.  Here are a few big ideas to help spark selling
opportunities and then make the most of them:

1. BE CONFIDENT IN WHO YOU ARE AS A VETERINARY PRACTICE:  See yourself as the best practice around.  Be confident when trying to grow the practice – you are not desperate.
2. HAVE A REFERRAL PROGRAM:  This is the easiest way for your team to get involved.
3. EMBRACE THE POWER OF GOOD QUESTIONS:  Use open-ended questions to get a conversation going. make the effort to really listen for opportunities to sell your veterinary practice.
4. KNOW YOUR ELEVATOR PITCH: Know why someone should choose you. Have a list of the three biggest reasons why someone should join your veterinary practice.
5. REMEMBER TO A.B.C.: “Always Be Closing” is a great philosophy to keep top of mind.  With every new opportunity discussion, always be thinking about the next step in the sales process – and how to get them there.

Preparing your team to achieve extraordinary wins!

As veterinary practices become more competitive, the value and potential of team performance to drive organizational success gain significantly. Equally important, disciplined team choices and behaviours improve the quality of a sales and marketing culture, collaborative thinking, leadership skills, and create engaged and motivated workers.

As you’ve learned, the three prerequisites for a winning team include clear objectives, communication, and a team sales and marketing approach.  Working groups that rigorously apply these fundamentals will tilt the odds of success greatly in their favour.

I recommend unleashing the power of your team to come together with these principles at your veterinary practice.  It’s sure to be a Win Win for everyone.

Bottom Line:  This article advocates for a team marketing approach to ensure success in a veterinary practice.