Nursing Home Marketing: Cold Call Concepts – Getting Past the Gatekeeper

gatekeeperI attended a seminar the other day on healthcare marketing.  One of the focuses was to break down your types of calls and define what the key elements are.  So, today, we’re breaking down a nursing home marketing cold call and how we get past the gatekeeper.

One of the first things to realize is that the relationship with the gatekeeper can be just as important as the one with the actual referral decision-maker.  If you screw up with the gatekeeper, forget about it.  You’ll never get in.

One of the things in nursing home marketing I recommened is to utilize the gatekeeper as a resource for information.  Asking if their doctor accepts Medicare or managed care patients, asking when the best time to come is, asking questions about what they see everyday.   Make your referral source’s gatekeeper an ally.

When you initially call upon an account, no one there knows you.  As soon as you walk through the door with your briefcase, bag, or nursing home marketing materials, the receptionist / gatekeeper is suspicious.  You introduce yourself and tell them you’re from ABC nursing home, and their defenses go even higher.  “Yep, another salesperson,” thinks the gatekeeper.  As soon as you begin asking questions about the physician or where the case manager’s office is, be prepared to be shut down.  You’re not getting back there.  The gatekeeper will protect them from the likes of you.  So, instead of trying to get past them, this is what I suggest you do to gain their cooperation:

1.  Introduce yourself and what company you’re with.

2.  Tell the gatekeeper why you’re there.  I.e. – “I’m here to learn who makes decisions about the discharge of patients to nursing facilities or rehab centers.”

3.  Tell them why your facility is the best choice for their patients.  I.e. – “We have a new orthopedic program that has produced some fantastic results for patients like yours…”

4.  Ask them who the decision-maker is and what the proper process is for setting up an appointment with them.  -> The defenses go down a little bit here as they realize you’re not trying to barge past them.  You’re being respectful and following their protocols.

5.  As you’re setting the appointment, thank them for helping you.  Let them know you’re available to answer any questions the decision-maker may have now if they have a few minutes.

6.  Ask any specific questions you need to about the account.

This seems to be an effective tool at getting past the gatekeeper because they are actually helping you set the appointment.  Get the appointment, prepare based off the questions and answers you received from the gatekeeper and make sure to keep the appointment.  Once you get to sit down with the decision-maker, let them know that you’d like to stop by and see them every so often.  Ask what the best way to do this is.

Give it a try and let me know how it works for you.

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3 Responses to “Nursing Home Marketing: Cold Call Concepts – Getting Past the Gatekeeper”

  • Hospice Marketing Boot Camp: Gatekeepers, Non-Referring Physicians, and Other Roadblocks on

    […] referrals from her office. Nursing Home Pro has an excellent post that illustrates a successful first encounter with a […]

  • Mark Stevenson on

    In Tyler,Texas it does not work that way. All or mostly all referrals come from the 3 hospitals in town. You have to get in good with discharge planners and social workers. Docs dont refer unless they are a Med Dir for a facility, and even then they cannot legally steer folks there.

  • Mark on

    Yes, many docs can go a little overboard with trying to adhere to the Stark law and self-referrals or making any referrals for that matter. Even the Medical Directors in some places. However, if a patient has no preference, the doc – if it’s a family practice or doc-in-a-box – may run into the situation that they have to refer somewhere. They can have a list of providers in the area and let the family/patient choose or advise them to go take a tour. Obviously, we’d want to be at the top of the list and the doc is able to share any experiences he/she has had as far as success or not with the facilities they have dealt with. This would be a situation of secondary and even tertiary referral sources for many nursing homes. As far as the hospitals, you’re right on target, the dc planers/social workers generally run the show. This may also be the case for many ortho offices. I have several that I know the patient is coming to me before the patient even has surgery.

    Thanks for your feedback and contribution, Mark.

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