A Clinician’s Guide to Sales Funnels (That Won’t Make You Feel Gross)

A clinician builds her sales funnel on a laptop

Most of the doctors, PAs, NPs, and medical leaders I talk to hate sales. They got into medicine to take care of patients and make healthcare better, not to market themselves. They’re not here for the slimy salesman mumbo-jumbo. So when I start talking about client acquisition as a sales funnel, their eyes glaze over. But it’s important to think about your client’s journey, so you can make it better. Let’s talk about what a basic funnel strategy is, and go over some in-depth examples of medical sales funnels.

Here’s a mindset shift I want to pose: in cutting-edge medicine, good sales funnels can improve patient outcomes. Because you’re not selling snake-oil here, you’re making a real difference for the folks you see. Sales funnels just channel people towards your office, while weeding out the ones who don’t need your work. 

If your services are the real deal, marketing and sales funnels just tell people how great they are. No slime involved. 

The practitioners I work with are giving life-changing results for their patients. Yet they’re only seeing a trickle of new referrals. They know that they can help more people, but they’ve got to get them through the door first. Here’s what a sales funnel is, why you need one, and how to build one yourself. 

What is a Sales Funnel?

“Sales funnel” is a visual aid that helps us picture the customer journey. The funnel metaphor just helps you visualize how your business turns people who have never heard of you into paying clients or patients. Here’s the funnel visual we’ve all seen before: 

Here’s the thing: if you’ve already got patients, you already have a sales funnel. 

Part of my job as your copywriter is to think about your copy in this three-dimensional sense, so that we can fill in gaps and make it easier for people to move from one stage to the next. No piece of copy or content exists in a vacuum; it all needs to contribute to leading people down your funnel. But I actually have a different visual aid that I use to help me strategize the journey that your prospects go on. Check out my step-wise approach:

What I like about this visual is that it’s more specific than a funnel, and it takes the client’s experience and level of trust into account. Because the more touchpoints they have with you, the more they trust you, and the more they’re willing to pay to continue working with you. And it makes you get clear on how you’re helping people move upwards through your CTAs, or Calls to Action. 

At the top of your funnel is your highest value offer. Not everyone will get there because not everyone is going to need that level of support. And that’s okay. The step model helps you build in lower-level value offers so that it’s easier to help clients ascend. And not every person needs to go to your highest level of care in order to get value out of interacting with you. 

That brings me to a question I get asked a lot, which is “what should I do to bring in more patients?”. Let’s talk about the elements of a doctor’s funnel. 

Your Bare-Bones Medical Marketing Funnel

If you’ve only recently started your practice, you’re probably stuck between a rock and a hard place. You haven’t got much of a budget for marketing your business, so you can’t afford to bring on a big agency. At the same time, you need patients to start coming in so you can keep the lights on. Does that sound familiar?

This is often the place where I come in, because I’m less expensive and more specialized than most medical marketing agencies. Here’s the plan that I recommend the most to new medical practices:

  1. Build a website (it doesn’t have to be fancy). I’ve spoken to so many clinicians who dropped $10k+ on their first website, only to not love it or change their specialty a few years in. A wordpress or squarespace site may run you about $300/year. And if you get me to write all your pages, you’ll know you’re set up for SEO success. Check out my guide on website essentials.
  1. Start a referral promotion, and send it out to your contacts. This is as simple as a sign in your office, or a quick note at the bottom of your email signature. Offer a $5 Starbucks gift card for clients who refer you to someone else. 
  1. If you’ve got time, get to blog writing. I’ve found that regular content creation is the best way to bring traffic to your site in the long term. Especially in cutting-edge medicine, where thought leadership gets your message out there. The problem that most clinicians run into is that they write a few blogs and don’t get any new visitors, and then get discouraged and stop. SEO-optimized content creation is a long game. It pays off much better than paid ads, but it takes somewhere between 4-6 months to work. 
  1. Eventually, start a newsletter. Building a listing of subscribers has so many benefits for innovative physicians. An emotional welcome sequence helps readers see who you are, what you do, and why to come to you. Ongoing informational messages show them they can trust you. And sometime down the line when you get an affiliate partnership or create a course? You’ve got a growing group of people who are already warm to you.

Notice the marketing elements that I left out of this strategy. Social media promotions might mean an ego boost, but I’ve found that “likes” don’t often become patients. Most of my clients have a slim social media following, even as their businesses are overflowing with clients. I only write social media posts in tandem with blogs, so if you’re trying to become an instagram influencer, I’m probably not the copywriter for you. 

A website, referral program, blog, and newsletter are a super basic funnel that can start bringing in patients if you’re just starting out. Let’s see what these elements look like in our step-wise model:

This is a great base-bones funnel, but you might notice it has fewer steps than my earlier example. And there aren’t many ways for you to connect with potential clients. Many people will fall off the funnel at your website, because they don’t have enough trust built to schedule a call. 

There are a lot of ways that I might build out this funnel to make your business’ steps easier to ascend. An opti-in offer like a $5 e-book helps make sure you’re reaching the right people, and gives them immediate value with a low barrier to entry. And it gets them on your email list, where you can introduce yourself and show what sets you apart from other providers. 

The great thing about starting these systems now is that they grow in value over time. If you start a blog now, and post consistently, you’ll be seeing 50+ referrals a month in half a year. If you start an email list now, you could have hundreds or thousands of warm leads for when you come up with your next patient offer. 

If you’re looking for more than bare-bones, what could your funnel look like? Let’s take a look at some medical funnel examples. 

Examples of Medical Sales Funnels

I hope I’ve got you thinking about the journey your clients go on from being strangers to patients. Let’s say you’ve got a ketamine therapy practice. Here’s what your step-wise funnel might look like:

Notice how many steps there are in this funnel. If you’re a ketamine therapist and this is your funnel, you have three different paid offers, and each offer leads people up into the next one. 

One of the beautiful things about funnels like this that don’t rely on paid ads is that they tend to be set-ii-and-forget-it. You can have me write an e-book for your practice and still be using it as a lead-generation tool in ten years. Your email welcome sequence is the same way. Once systems like these are set up, you get to reap the benefits for years to come. 

Let’s look at another step-wise funnel example, this time for a medical business that sells to other medical businesses. 

B2B Medical Sales Funnel

If you’re selling a service or product to administrators, office managers, or physicians, you’ll still be using the step-wise funnel. But your steps might be a little different. B2B contracts are higher-ticket and typically involve less emotional sales decisions. So instead of an e-book, you might use a white paper. Instead of a 

Here’s what I mean. Let’s say you’re a medical equipment business that sells highly sophisticated at-home telemetry monitors that fit within a chronic care management system. Here’s what your step-wise B2B funnel might look like:

B2B purchases are made with more data and less emotion (although there’s definitely still emotion involved in sales). That means that touchpoints in a B2B sales strategy will likely be more evidence-based and professional.

Your Business Stepwise Funnel

Now that you’ve seen some step-wise funnel examples, get out a pen and paper. It’s time to think about the journey that people go on as they move through the levels of value in your business. If stages of your funnel are blank, that’s okay! Now you know where you can focus your efforts to make it easier for people to move to your next level of value. 

Do you have questions about what your current funnel looks like, and how you can make it better? Email me!

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