A Better Patient Experience: The Doctor Is In

Ever wait for hours in the emergency department? The new crop of urgent care facilities is giving ERs a run for their money with streamlined, patient-centric care that’s delivered quickly and with high quality. And they do it with systems and workflows that allow fast patient intake and quick transfer of patient data and status among departments.

Ever wait for hours in the emergency department?

The new crop of urgent care facilities is giving ERs a run for their money with streamlined, patient-centric care that’s delivered quickly and with high quality. And they do it with systems and workflows that allow fast patient intake and quick transfer of patient data and status among departments.

Here’s a personal experience.

I strained a quadriceps muscle climbing a hill on a bicycle ride. The next day, my knee was swollen like a cantaloupe. I iced it and took ibuprofen, but that wasn’t enough. I could barely walk 100 yards. Someone told me that Philadelphia’s famous orthopedic care facility, The Rothman Institute, had a walk-in urgent care facility near me, so I went there.

Without waiting, I went through the new patient intake procedure and filled out a medical history on an iPad. Just before I finished, the nurse in charge of my care was waiting to take me to an X-ray room where my electronic chart was waiting. The technician performed a series of X-rays on my knee. The nurse then led me to an examining room. He interviewed me for information related to the injury and input my answers into my electronic chart.

Then a doctor entered, asked a few questions, and then told me the diagnosis based on a physical exam and the X-rays she saw on the screen. Her recommended treatment: Drain the fluid from my knee and inject cortisone into the joint. She performed both procedures right then and there with the assistance of the nurse and gave me some final instructions. Someone else arrived and fitted me with a knee brace. I walked out gingerly.

Total time elapsed: 50 minutes.

The systems that manage the flow of patient data through the healthcare facility not only improve the patient experience, but they save time and money. There’s no waiting for people and data to be transferred from department to department. Everything is available in real time and is there when the patient arrives at the next care station.

Granted, urgent care facilities are not appropriate for every type of injury or ailment, but ERs are starting to adopt many of the systems that facilitate rapid patient care in an effort to compete for their share of patients. I recently saw a billboard on a state highway in Maryland that had an LED showing the current wait time at a local ER. It was flashing four minutes.

It’s great that the quality of our healthcare delivery systems is catching up with the quality of our medical care.

The Art of the Follow-Up

When prospecting using email or LinkedIn InMail, when should I send a follow-up email—to make sure the prospect saw my email? How long should I wait to rattle the prospect’s cage? Is there a better day of the week to follow-up? What’s the optimal formula? What do I say in the follow-up that will get their attention and response?

When prospecting using email or LinkedIn InMail, when should I send a follow-up email—to make sure the prospect saw my email? How long should I wait to rattle the prospect’s cage? Is there a better day of the week to follow-up?

What’s the optimal formula? What do I say in the follow-up that will get their attention and response?

Only you know the best way to answer these questions. I’d love to tell you the secret formula or best practice. But the only way to answer these questions is to write, try, measure, re-write and try again. Get in the sandbox and create.

That said, I will give you a “starter message template” to begin your experiment. The best we can do is try to control the chaos to the best of our ability. That kind of control takes two things: Staying flexible and having a systematic approach. Because systems tend to be reliable, predictable.

It’s a Lot Like Fishing
Everyone likes fishing when they’re kids. But when I grew up I realized something exciting: Once you’ve learned how to fish for, say, small mouth bass on a river, you can go to just about any river and catch that specific kind of fish.

Because of the system anyone can learn. The approach.

But here’s the thing: Like your uncle always said, “That’s why they call it fishing, not catching!” The fish, once in a while, are totally unpredictable. Fish are like people. They sometimes behave in ways we can’t explain at the moment. And here’s why: Because the weather changes. Water temperatures may fluctuate wildly. Their environment freaks out on the fish.

Catching them won’t be easy, but it’s never impossible—if you remain flexible enough in your approach.

Keep Your Follow-Up System Flexible
It’s the same with your prospects. Experimentation with follow-up timing and wording is vital to your success.

Like with fishing, outside factors suddenly come into play with prospects. Their boss suddenly quit. They’ve been given 24 hours to get on a plane and fill in for a sick colleague at a five-day trade-show. Their child was involved in a traffic accident and is seriously injured. Their partner wants a divorce.

Prospects “disappear into the black hole” right? You know, when everything seems to be going fine with your lead and poof! Suddenly, no response. All of these factors require a flexible system … a system that allows for customers to occasionally disappear and not derail you.

You need an approach that uses creative thinking-and rewards you for getting those fish biting again.

Embrace the Idea of Experimentation
There is no one best approach. There is no best practice that will be sure to work for you. You need to discover what is best in your situation with your customers.

You need to discover what sequencing of messages works best; what subject line works best; how to time the different touches you’ll make with the phone, email and LinkedIn.

Because different kinds of buyers have different kinds of habits that drive their day-to-day behaviors.

Use This as a Starter Template
Keep it simple. Remember, always use the “brief, blunt, basic” approach to your email messages. All of them. If this approach doesn’t sound like you adjust it so it does. Don’t get too wordy just make it sound like you. Use this as a template:

SUBJECT: Are we in touch?

Hi Jeff,

Sorry to trouble you. Did you receive the below message? If I do not hear back from you by _____ [insert day of week about 4-6 days after your initial message], I will not be in touch again.

All the best,
Steve Jones

Feel free to copy this technique. Yes, it works, but it’s the structure of the email that works—not so much the message itself. That’s the system. Words keep it flexible.

Why Does It Work?
The subject line is inquisitive. It is clearly seeking a response about being in touch. Most recipients do want to get back to senders. But only those senders who ask for a quick decision to be made in their first email.

Next, the first line dramatically acknowledges the fact that it is interrupting the reader’s day. By recognizing the reader’s right to ignore or delete, you are creating distinction for yourself. You’re standing out. It’s like a refreshing slap across the face.

Finally, this wording creates a sense of urgency. It sets a deadline.

Let me know how this flexible approach works for you? Good luck.

LinkedIn Prospecting: How Much Time Should You Spend?

“How much time should you spend on LinkedIn each week?” It’s a noble question. I understand why you ask it. But worrying about time is a dangerous place to start. True, we live in a world where we have limited time for new ideas. But saying, “You should spend X hours per week on LinkedIn” would be disingenuous.

“How much time should you spend on LinkedIn each week?”

It’s a noble question. I understand why you ask it. But worrying about time is a dangerous place to start.

True, we live in a world where we have limited time for new ideas. But saying, “You should spend X hours per week on LinkedIn” would be disingenuous.

Because there is no credible answer to the question. Instead, the best starting point is simple: Get more leads, faster, by creating a LinkedIn prospecting system.

You will be effective—regardless of how much time invested on LinkedIn!

Where to Start With LinkedIn
Here’s the skinny: The more success you have with LinkedIn prospecting the more time you’ll want to invest in it.

So invest time, first, in making sure you experience a little bit of success. Start by making the most out of every minute you commit.

Learn a systematic approach to:

  • Attract potential leads to connect with you
  • Spark questions about what you sell in buyers’ minds
  • Help prospects self-qualify faster

Let’s start today. Pick one of the above as a goal. Let’s commit to taking the first step toward a better LinkedIn prospecting system.

The Problem: Lack of a Good System
Most sales reps struggle with LinkedIn prospecting because they don’t use a system. Or the process they’re committed to doesn’t work.

For example, we’ve been told (by “experts”) to invest time on LinkedIn by:

  • publishing (blogging on the LinkedIn platform)
  • polishing your profile with new features
  • sharing knowledge with Connections and in Groups

Publishing on LinkedIn’s platform, sharing knowledge and polishing your profile might be effective—if they’re part of a system. These tactics, alone, are not enough. If you’ve already tried them you know what I mean!

A Direct Response Copywriting System
“How can I get customers to view content on my profile and be so excited they contact me?”

That’s a better question! One that leads us toward a proven system. A system to get customers curious about you. A better way to provoke response from buyers.

Content that makes customers respond does one thing really well: It uses direct response copywriting to make potential buyers think, “Yes, yes, YES … I can take action on that. In fact, I’ll probably get results from taking this advice.”

Most importantly, buyers must conclude their thoughts with an urge.

“How can I get my hands on more of those kinds of insights/tips?”

This simple idea (using a direct or subtle call to action) is the difference between wasting time on LinkedIn and effectively prospecting with it.

Response is what drives success. It’s what gets you paid. Invest time on LinkedIn with a system that grabs customers’ attention and gets them to respond.

Remember, publishing content on LinkedIn’s blogging platform or posting interesting updates will not work. Not without the direct response element.

More Success = More Time
The more success you have with LinkedIn prospecting, the more time you’ll want to invest in it. It only makes sense to invest time, first, in making sure you experience a little bit of success. Success that you can increase, systematically.

Start your LinkedIn prospecting journey by making the most out of every minute. Commit to LinkedIn, but resist worrying about how many hours per week to invest.

Instead, invest time for a few months in optimizing a prospecting approach. Use this proven system to get started. I guarantee you won’t worry so much about how much time you’re investing. In fact, you will probably want to invest more time in LinkedIn prospecting!

Good luck. Let me know how it goes for you.

What Is Social Selling and Where Do I Start?

Don’t let the hype about B-to-B social selling deceive you. Buyers have not reinvented the buying process. It has simply become a non-linear one. What is new are the sexy tools. However, using LinkedIn, Google+, blogging and YouTube effectively when prospecting isn’t sexy. It’s just a better process. Is social selling a revolution? No, it’s merely a chance for sales prospecting EVO-lution.

Don’t let the hype about B-to-B social selling deceive you. Buyers have not reinvented the buying process. It has simply become a non-linear one. What is new are the sexy tools. However, using LinkedIn, Google+, blogging and YouTube effectively when prospecting isn’t sexy. It’s just a better process.

Is social selling a revolution? No, it’s merely a chance for sales prospecting EVO-lution.

So let’s roll up our sleeves and discover: What is social selling and how are sellers generating more leads, faster? What is the process your sales team should be applying?

Social Selling Is a System
Let’s grip the wheel, firmly. Revolutions bring about change that make things easier or better. Has social media made your life easier lately? Are you getting more leads and closing them faster?

I rest my case!

Effective social selling is a system. Systems are not sexy.

A system is a repeatable process with a predictable outcome. Input goes in, certain things happen and out pops a result.

Social Prospecting: New but not Complex
The prospecting piece of social selling is mostly about:

  1. Getting buyers to respond and qualify faster, more often, and
  2. Turning response into dialogue that leads to a sale—faster, more easily

If anything is new about this process it’s the role direct response marketing techniques play. For example, social media copywriting is catching on.

The process today’s best social sellers are using generates leads faster by helping customers:

  • believe there is a better way (via short-form social content)
  • realize they just found part of it (using longer-form content) and
  • act—taking a first step toward what they want (giving you a lead)

Engagement and Trust Are not the Goals
Will you agree with me that engagement is not your sellers’ goal? Engagement is the beginning of a process. It’s a chance for front line reps and dealers to create response—and deeper conversation about a transaction.

If not, engagement is a chronic waste of your reps’ and dealers’ time.

I know “experts” insist that being trusted is a strategy. But it’s not.

It is the output of a successful prospecting strategy!

Increased trust is a sign your sellers are applying the process effectively. It’s not a goal!

As a small B-to-B business owner myself, I know what gets you paid. It’s not engagement. It’s not your image or personal brand.

You or your boss measures performance based on leads.

So let’s keep your social prospecting approach practical: Attention, engagement and a simple, repeatable way to create response more often. These are the components of an effective social selling system.

Why You Don’t Need a Social Selling Strategy

“What’s your social selling strategy?” I hear it all the time.
“You need one,” the experts insist.

But I say no, in most cases. Here’s why: Listen to what the experts say. Pay attention to what they say goes into a social selling strategy. Hint: It’s nothing new!

Yet we keep hearing “experts” claim listening is a new idea—or how we must get trusted to earn the sale.

So I give you permission to fire your social selling consultant or sales person if this is the best they can do.

What’s Your Telephone Strategy?
Not convinced? Consider how we don’t have B-to-B telephone strategies for prospecting. We have systems, approaches to applying the tool effectively. What defines our success in tele-prospecting?

Listening to customers? Nope. That’s the entry fee.

Trust? Nope. That’s the outcome we desire.

Success when dialing-for-dollars is based on if your system works—or not.

“You didn’t need a telephone strategy when the telephone was invented,” says sales productivity coach Philippe le Baron of LB4G Consulting.

“You learned how to use the new tool … to reach out to people you could never have dreamed of reaching … and get a face-to-face meeting with the ones who qualified.”

Today, tele-prospecting success has little to do with phone technology. It has everything to do with your telephone speaking technique—your conversational system.

Just the same, you don’t need a social media strategy today. You need a practical, repeatable process to increase sellers’ effectiveness (productivity) and make their output more predictable … using social media platforms.

Systems work for you. You don’t work for systems!

So don’t let gurus trick you into feeling like a laggard. Don’t let me catch you throwing money at sales trainers claiming buyers are fundamentally revolutionizing the way they buy. Focus on ways to:

  1. Get buyers to respond and qualify faster, more often, and
  2. Turn response into dialogue that leads to a sale—faster, more easily

Good luck. Let me know how I can help!

Top 3 Mistakes to Avoid When Blogging to Generate Leads

Blogging to generate leads can feel overwhelming. We’re being bombarded with “must dos” from content marketing experts who make it seem effortless. What’s their trick? It’s a practical, refreshing approach to blogging. Here are three pitfalls to avoid and a proven system to create leads. Let’s start with busting a popular myth: Blogging to generate leads demands LOTS of blog content.

Blogging to generate leads can feel overwhelming. We’re being bombarded with “must dos” from content marketing experts who make it seem effortless. What’s their trick? It’s a practical, refreshing approach to blogging. Here are three pitfalls to avoid and a proven system to create leads.

Let’s start with busting a popular myth: Blogging to generate leads demands LOTS of blog content.

No. 1: Writing Frequently at the Cost of Proper Form
Yes, we need to blog frequently and “have a rhythm.” However, the pressure to crank out a tons of blog posts causes problems. In the rush to “just do it” we often forget effective blogging fundamentals. We forget to:

  • start with customers pains, goals, fears, ambitions or cravings and
  • structure blog posts to teach, guide or answer in ways that
  • creates hunger for more of what we have to offer (a lead generation offer).

Beware: Investing too much time and energy in writing frequently can torpedo you. Tired of the stress of wondering, “Am I blogging enough?” Give up the habit!

Focus on following the structure outlined above. Form the habit. Start putting this process to work for you.

No. 2: Losing Visibility by Forgetting Google Authorship
In its effort to clean up the Web, Google launched Authorship. The essence of becoming a recognized Author with Google is all about one thing:

Giving authors of high quality blog articles (you) more exposure.

Here’s how. Google gives maximum attention to registered Authors by including a photo next to ALL blog posts appearing in its index. This grabs eyes. This beats out competing writers who aren’t Authors.

This drives more leads to your page!

You’re losing visibility if you’re not aligned with Google via Authorship.

No. 3: Investing Too Much Time Writing ‘Epic Content’
For a long while, I invested time writing blog posts that convert leads really well. Every single post I made “counted.” However, Google would only rank them on page 1 sometimes.

This wasted my time. I was literally writing great articles that nobody would ever read. Ouch.

Even more frustrating, sometimes Google does rank our articles—yet nobody clicks. Ugh!

So here’s the fix: Invest time in getting ranked on page 1 or 2 first. THEN, monitor for visitor traffic … and THEN tweak to optimize lead generation from your post.

I don’t recommend writing total crap. However, take the pressure off. Write, first, for search engine ranking. Use an effective blog post writing template (that generates leads) but don’t over-invest your precious time.

Here’s how to get into the habit. For example, let’s assume you:

  • completed keyword research—you know what customer pain, fear or goal you’ll address in your post;
  • understand and practice the 3-step system summarized in No.1 above; and
  • know how to make an effective call to action and are ready to earn leads.

You know how to get prospects to your site and what to do with them once there. You’re armed and dangerous. You can earn attention with magnetic headlines, get prospects to read and act on your post.

This blogging system is quality-intensive. But it can be a trap!

It’s very easy to over-invest time in a post that nobody will ever read. So write to get found in search engines first. Be diligent about structure (for search engine and human discovery). However, don’t over-do it. Wait.

Protect your time investment. First, write to be discovered. Don’t neglect proper form but don’t over-invest in polishing … optimizing it for peak lead generation performance. Good luck!

Paperless Mail Nears Reality

It’s been talked about for years: a paperless postal system that would enable folks to send real paper mail electronically. Not via emails, but real documents sent to people digitally.

Well, it looks like the time may be here. Zumbox, a Westlake Village, Calif.-based company that has created a web-based platform that powers the world’s first paperless postal system, launched its national rollout on Sept. 22 in San Francisco and Newark, N.J., following a successful pilot in New Lenox, Ill.

It’s been talked about for years: a paperless postal system that would enable folks to send real paper mail electronically. Not via emails, but real documents sent to people digitally.

Well, it looks like the time may be here. Zumbox, a Westlake Village, Calif.-based company that has created a web-based platform that powers the world’s first paperless postal system, launched its national rollout on Sept. 22 in San Francisco and Newark, N.J., following a successful pilot in New Lenox, Ill.

Here’s how Zumbox works: For every U.S. street address, there’s a corresponding Zumbox — or digital mailbox — that enables postal mail to be sent as digital files and received online with no paper and no scanning. By using Zumbox, businesses and other organizations can cut down on mailing costs and reduce their environmental impacts. Consumers, on the other hand, can access their mail online and also receive multimedia content in a new way.

The announcement, made on Sept. 22, means that City and County of San Francisco and the City of Newark, New Jersey can send secure, electronic, paperless mail to their residents using delivery criteria such as neighborhoods, ZIP codes, cities or specific street addresses. This can include letters, utility bills, public notices, newsletters, permits, videos and more. Zumbox, which incorporated last year, is making its service available to municipal and state governments free of charge. And, there’s no cost for consumers to receive paperless mail via Zumbox.

“A paperless postal system represents a new opportunity for San Francisco to reduce the city’s overall waste stream and will help in our efforts to reach zero waste by 2020,” said San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom in a statement. “As a communications technology, paperless mail also supports our commitment to open government by offering a more direct and efficient online connection between the city and our residents.”

Zumbox is also offering a free trial for qualified nonprofit organizations and local businesses in San Francisco and Newark, according to a statement by Donn Rappaport, president and CEO of Zumbox and founder and chairman of direct marketing list firm ALC.

In fact, many heavyweights are behind the system. In August, Zumbox announced it closed its Series A funding with $8 million raised. Investors include Art Bilger (managing member of Shelter Capital Partners), Rick Braddock (chairman and CEO of Fresh Direct and former chairman and CEO of Priceline.com), Michael Eisner (founder of The Tornante Co. and former CEO of The Walt Disney Co.), Bill Guthy (founding principal of Guthy-Renker) and Rappaport.

The first stage of Zumbox’s national rollout aims to reach approximately 1 million households in the U.S. through partnerships with municipal governments, media companies, and national and local mail senders. Additional cities and partners will be added in the coming weeks and months. I am going to be tracking it closely. What do you think about it? Good idea? Bad idea? Let us know by posting a comment here.