I’m going to tell you guys exactly what I do with my first calls. The nuts and bolts. This is what I do. So for most of my first contacts come by email, and 99% of my first contact, I get an email. Either someone has found one of my websites and they filled out a contact form. I have an app. I get lots of parents in the hospital that just had a baby contacting me through their app.
So, respond promptly, strike while the iron is hot. People who have a need, they want help, so respond. Don’t wait for days. That’s why I said I’m always working on vacation because on my phone, I access all my contact forms and emails, and I respond while they are passionate. Okay? I have a template email that I use to make sure I cover all points. It is brief. Yes, it’s a template, but I personalize it for everyone, so it doesn’t look like this email that I just hit, you know, cut, paste, click and send.
I always add information unique to the client. People always put something in their first email to me that I can pull from. Sometimes it might just be a photo. I get lots of photos from parents with kids with Down syndrome. “This is my baby.” They want acknowledgment that their kid is cute. They do. They’ll send me a picture of their baby sleeping, and kids with Down syndrome have hypermobile joints, and they tend to sleep in positions that are not good for their joints. So, you know, they’ll be laying with their legs, and they’re folded over and half asleep, and they’ll say, “Oh, this is my child. Aren’t they so cute?” And so, I’ll put something in the email, “Oh, I remember when Ella used to sleep like that, that really takes me back.” But also, if I can put something in there to make the fire burn hotter, fan the flames, I do that too. So I might say, “Oh, yeah, that takes me back. Ella used to sleep like that, and I had no idea at the time that the way she was sleeping might keep her from walking.” And that’s all I… Right, but… And they’re like, “Can we talk tomorrow?” So, sometimes that works, sometimes it doesn’t, but it’s a little tip to generate even more interest.
Make it brief. We talked about the tire kickers. You know, you get a lot of people that never follow up. So, I’m busy, I don’t wanna spend a lot of time composing this big, long, elegant email. You need to make it brief, you need to think about your time. I suggest day and time options that we can set up a call. I usually give like three, you know, and I try to vary it, like, here’s one during a weekday, here’s a weekend option, here’s a weeknight option, so that I’m very flexible. I include that in the email. Include the time zone. I know this sounds simple but it is not simple to people. I always put, “I’m referring to Central Standard Time, please let me know what time zone you are in.” I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had people call me four hours early. I have clients all over the world where they call me 12 hours different from what I thought because they don’t clarify the time zone. So please, clarify the time zone.
I mention, especially for my parents, that the initial call is complimentary. I have found that scares off a lot of my parents for some reason, if they think I’m gonna charge them if they call to talk. So I just say, you know, we’ll need 15 to 20 minutes to get to know each other, and it’s complimentary. I always ask the client to call me. This is just a little thing I have, especially for my doctor clients who are calling me wanting advice with their career. I’m already starting to gather information from that first email and from that first phone call. And if a physician calls me late, I think, “Okay, that’s something we’re gonna need to discuss if you’re looking for a job.” You know, we may need to discuss etiquette. So, I always have people call me. If they don’t call, I wait 15 minutes and call them, “Hey, it’s Dr. Julia. We had an appointment scheduled, is this still a good time to talk?”
Excerpted from SEAK’s stream on-demand course, How to Start, Build, and Run a Successful Physician Consulting Practice