How to Keep Your Competitors Out of Your Best Referral Sources

This week I got a call from Scott, who was VP at a Regional Home Care Company. Their agency has been growing over the past few years. They were feeling good about their position in the community, but recently things were taking a downturn.

They’d lost several big accounts to smaller agencies who ‘didn’t offer the breadth and depth of services that ‘Scott’s agency could provide. The “stealing” of his referral sources “had to stop!”

Scott was upset – he had reps who worked for him for 10+ years. They had deep relationships with these accounts. They consistently received referrals and there was no reason to think things were going south… until they did.

They were “notified” the referral source was switching agencies.

Scott was stunned. Even some of the people in the accounts were surprised since they thought things were going “well.”

When I heard ‘Scott’s story – I wasn’t surprised.

Long term relationships can breed complacency. It is just a matter of time until the shoe drops.

I asked Scott, “why do you think you lost your accounts?”

He said: “There was no way the competitor could beat us in a head-to-head competition. So she CHANGED THE GAME.”

Instead of working with each ‘building’s Resident Life Director, she went up a level to the Regional Corporate Nurse and out of the hands of the traditional referral sources.

She showed why different criteria were needed to evaluate their current provider.

(Surprise) Her suggested criteria fit her agency like a GLOVE! It highlighted all the things they did well. Her agency was the only one who checked all the boxes.

She quickly became the provider of choice. She just “rinsed and repeated” her way through the entire territory.

Scott said to me “How could I have prevented this agency from taking 30% of my business?”

The best way to prevent this from happening is to play a little game I like to call:

SALES PARANOIA

Yes – it is dark – really dark – and as you know I usually am the rainbows and butterflies girl –but today – it is dark.

SALES PARANOIA IS GOOD FOR GROWTH!

ASSUME YOUR COMPETITORS ARE OUT TO GET YOUR BEST ACCOUNTS (THEY ARE)


How to play SALES PARANOIA


Step 1: Evaluation

Take on the mindset of your competitor and look at your agency honestly- How would you “attack your best accounts from a service point of view.”

  • What are your weaknesses?
  • Where or who is your “”weak link””?
  • How would you get into your accounts under the radar – which contacts at the account is most likely to “go to the dark side”
  • List all the staff members and rank their influence – do you have a relationship with all of them?

Step 2: Group FUN

Do it as a group – often other departments can see things you ‘don’t.

  • Referrals on the weekend?
  • Return calls?
  • Fax machine not always working and referral sources calling to confirm you “”got it””
  • Caregivers missed 2 shifts last week
  • Sales reps who take 2 hrs to call back intake

Step 3: Plan & Action

Now you know the areas where you are open to an “attack” time to assign and implement action!

Save yourself the pain of losing your best accounts by planning your “comeback” BEFORE the score changes.

As  George Washington wrote in 1799: “…make them believe, that offensive operations, oftentimes, is the surest, if not the only (in some cases) means of defense.”

P.S. This works too when thinking about how to convert another agency’s Best Referral Sources! Just apply the Steps to their agency.

 

Keep Serving Seniors!

 

Melanie Stover, OT

Co-Owner of Home Care Sales