Going for The Big Ask

By: Kristy Ryan
Thursday, October 2, 2014

I have 10-year-old identical twin girls, Sarah and Kate. They look alike, sound alike and have very similar personalities. When I make my grocery list each week, Kate approaches me and says, “Mom, can you get dried bananas for me?”

I usually say yes and add dried bananas to my list. Sarah never mentions anything special she would like from the store. As most busy moms do, I zip through the grocery store as quickly as I can, buying the usual items and, of course, Kate’s bananas. I can set myself on autopilot and blaze through the store in 30 minutes because I get the same things every week.

When I get home, the girls rush into the kitchen and look through the bags to see what I bought. Kate finds her bananas and is thrilled. Sarah looks through all the bags and says, “Mom, where’s the stuff I like?”

My reply is the same every week. “Sarah, you didn’t ask for anything special, so I got what I always get. Kate asked for bananas, so I got them.”

I share this story because, like my identical twins, most physicians appear the same to referral coordinators. To them, all physicians are super-smart people who went to medical school. Like a busy mom trying to rush through the grocery store, referral coordinators are busy during the day and want to get their jobs done efficiently, but if they are presented with useful information about a physician and asked to refer patients to him or her, they often will.

Some physicians have become very good at distinguishing themselves from the crowd and asking for the business, while others still take Sarah’s approach and just hope for the best but ask for nothing. This second group of physicians is often disappointed in the results.

At Lexicon Medical, we teach our physicians to do what Kate does so naturally. We call this going for the “Big Ask.” It may sound easy, but a lot of physicians do the hard job of going around town introducing themselves without ever asking for the business. Most physicians dread that final moment of the meet and greet when the time comes for the Big Ask, so they skip this part all together. This is like performing a surgery and not suturing the place of incision. If you have made the effort to introduce yourself and your services to others, you have earned the right to ask for their business.

Your first step in conquering the Big Ask is to identify what it is you want to ask for. The second step is deciding how you want to ask for these referrals. Most physicians prefer a soft close, such as, “I will take great care of your patients. Please consider referring your patients to my practice.”

You could also try an assumptive close, such as, “When you send your patients to me, I will take great care of them.”

If you want to get really aggressive you could try a hard close, such as, “Please send all of your patients to my practice.”

Use whichever Big Ask fits your personality, but as a general rule remember, “Say your best, then request.”

Tell the referral coordinator who you are and the nature of your practice. Explain what types of patients you can treat. Describe a positive patient outcome and let them know that their patients can have the same positive experience. Then go for the Big Ask and ask them to send you their patients. It may seem uncomfortable at first, but the more you do it, the better you will get and the more organic it will feel.

Kristy Ryan

You can reach Kristy Ryan at 1-855-MED-REPS or by email at kryan@lexiconmedical.com.