4 Best Practices to Turn a Lead into a Patient

11.11.2020
The time it takes for a lead to convert into a patient is precious! Now more than ever, the average person’s attention span is reaching record lows. To successfully gain new patients, you have to keep your leads warm, informed, and interested. Don’t let a prospective patient leave your sales funnel before you’ve closed the deal.

The market is full of enticing competition, so there’s no shortage of other practices for your prospective patient to choose from. Knowing how to follow up with sales leads through effective follow up strategies is critical for maximizing your number of new patient starts. 

Here are the 4 lead follow-up best practices to fill your exam chairs—for good.
 

1. Respond to prospective patients quickly.

Don’t let your potential patients go cold! Contact them as soon as they submit their information. The 24-hour window thought to convert a lead is no longer viable. The patient’s attention span and window of interest are shorter than you may think. If a person is in the market for orthodontic treatment, chances are good that they’re surveying your competing practices too. If your competitor reaches out to the patient first, you’ve put yourself at a fateful disadvantage.  

According to an MIT study, “the odds of contacting a lead if called in 5 minutes versus 30 minutes drop 100 times. The odds of qualifying a lead if called in 5 minutes versus 30 minutes drop 21 times”. 

Five minutes is sometimes all it takes to make or lose a potential start. A 5-minute turnaround to follow up with a lead can be challenging if you don’t have effective follow-up strategies in place. The best way to conquer this challenge is to have team member(s) dedicated to following up with patients after they request an exam or reach out to your office with a question. Team members who double as sales personnel and front office staff may not have the time or availability to create a lead follow-up system with the shortest possible contact turnaround time. 


2. Nurture your leads—but make it tactful.

Some leads will be ready to pull the trigger and book their first appointment from the initial follow-up from your sales team. Other potential patients need to be warmed up a bit before they’re comfortable with your brand, your team members, or your specific approach to orthodontic care. 

Keep your leads warm by showing them that you care about their needs and their interest in orthodontic treatment, without overwhelming them or pushing them. (Being pushy with your leads is likely to backfire.) 

If your potential patient isn’t quite ready to schedule an appointment, while you still have them on the phone or in your email thread, ask them if they want to be signed up for your mailing list. Send them future specials or information about your services to keep your practice fresh in their mind. Discern between communications and offerings that provide value to your potential patient, and offerings that come off as a desperate, last ditch effort to make a sale. (And obviously, choose valuable communications. Ditch the last ditch effort.)
 

3. Implement a follow-up system. 

The best lead follow-up strategies always include some form of follow-up system. This may be an internet lead follow-up process or system, a written or projected diagram that’s updated regularly and reviewed in weekly sales meetings, or any dynamic visual that represents the sales pipeline.

A visual follow-up system gives you insight into where each patient is currently located in the sales process. This helps you to understand what your prospective patient needs at that exact point in their patient journey. It’s no secret that your communications should differ throughout the patient journey to accommodate the potential patient’s change in needs or change in feelings toward your service. 

Dashboard follow-up systems and visual diagrams should be reviewed at every sales meeting to ensure that the sales team and supporting team members (if necessary) are informed throughout the follow-up process. Update the sales pipeline regularly to keep information relevant, and to assess the current status of each potential patient. 

Knowing where the patient is located in the sales funnel will show you which patients to focus on, which ones to nurture more and which ones to (temporarily) let breathe. 

4. Simplify your patient processes.

Ideally, you want your internal process to be as detailed and thorough as possible, but you want your external patient processes to be simplified with as few steps as possible. The chances of your patient filling out a multiple-page form or 10 different form fields is pretty unlikely. By the time your prospect submits their information in the first few fields with 7 more fields to go, there’s a chance they’ll lose interest. 

Request the information you immediately need from your patient, and bank on the chance to receive more information from them once they’ve shown their initial interest. The last thing you want is a prospective patient who’s ready to buy from you but decides your conversion form isn’t worth it. That prospect is likely to seek out your competitor who only has a form with 3 fields to fulfill. 

An important part of your follow-up strategy is giving the patient what they want in the way they want it. Offer one-click signup options. Clearly and succinctly explain the value you’re providing the patient when offering them an orthodontic exam or special promotion. Simplify your ‘request an exam’ form to encourage patients to fill the form out. 

Always keep the user experience in mind when creating the patient journey. After all, would you want to complete a meaty form when you’re merely on the verge of committing to orthodontic treatment?


Supporting your leads and prospects through the conversion process means giving them what they want. The sales funnel and patient journey are rooted in psychology in the end. 

Think of your patient as a person, not a profit. 

Put yourself in the patient’s shoes. What would you want from your brand, treatments, or level of orthodontic care? How long does it take you to lose interest when submitting a form? How long would you wait to be contacted before opting for a competing practice instead?

Keep your patient leads warm, informed, and interested. If you want to see success when turning leads into patients, we urge you to reach out to us

We are an award-winning digital marketing agency here to help dental specialists and orthodontists see the increase in patient acquisition, sales, and brand awareness they’ve been looking for.