How To Answer The Phone When Someone Calls Your Practice

Updated: Apr 12

A couple of weeks ago, I received a voicemail from someone inquiring about physical therapy services. This is not something that happens all that often, due to most of my prospects coming through word-of-mouth referrals or the prospects being my classmates at our gym (people who already know me).


I was really excited that someone had found me online (point to SEO!), and whatever they had seen prompted them to call me. Unfortunately, I must have been too excited and quickly called the person back, proceeding to completely botch the conversation and not convert the potential patient.


For me, this looks like saying a lot of "umm", "so", "you know", "uhhh", etc and talking both of us in a circle, to the point where I actually leave my body and look on in horror as I watch myself on the phone call not ask the right questions, stammer, stall, and just overall, not come across as super professional, in my opinion. This is definitely where my own imposter syndrome can start to flare up again.


When I first opened my practice, this would happen all the time, even with in-person conversations. I would get so embarrassed and it took months for me to realize that most likely, the person I was speaking with didn't notice at all. Most of it was just in my head.


So after having many of these experiences, I decided to come up with a standard operating procedure on how to handle what we call "discovery calls." Basically, the first meaningful conversation one has with a potential client.



Outline Your Discovery Call Process


I put together a simple decision tree to help you keep your process to one step at a time. I encourage all of the DPT to CEO students to use our "step by step" sales method so it never feels like a ton of pressure to focus on the long term end result.

Discovery call decision tree

The 4 Step "Pocket" Discovery Call Script


Here are the four major components that I attempt to cover in any kind of discovery conversation. The reason I call it a "pocket" script is because it's easy to remember these 4 parts, even without knowing word-for-word what you want to say and want to cover in the conversation so that you have enough information to see if the prospect would be a good fit to move forward (see chart above).


Introduction


I think this one can go without saying...I make sure to introduce myself and my practice by name when calling someone back (I need to do a better job of that when I pick up a call for my business...both my personal number and business number are on my phone, so sometimes I pick up thinking it's a personal call).


What I learned from Jerry Durham is to also make sure I ask for the prospect's name as well and use it throughout the conversation you have with them. It will help you remember it and it will also give the person on the other end of the line the impression that you know who they are and will make sure you're taken care of.


Jerry did a really great talk on outreach in the Facebook group in 2021. You can find it in the guides section here.


Current Situation


After a quick introduction, if I'm calling the potential patient back after receiving their voicemail, I will try to make sure and ask if now is a good time to chat for a few minutes. If not, we will set up another time to talk about what they have going on.


If now is a good time, we begin the conversation! I'll ask them about themselves, what prompted them to call, and what they are looking for help with.


Desired Situation


Here is where I will ask about what they're really looking for -- what their goals are, what they're hoping to get out of physical therapy or strength and conditioning coaching.


Problem/Challenges


Finally, I will ask them why they haven't been able to reach their desired situation, and depending on what that is, there are going to be a few different ways to ask this. You can also ask what they've tried so far.


Somewhere in the conversation I also like to ask what made them want to reach out to me vs someone else. This can not only give me great feedback about how my marketing message is coming across, but also confirms for the prospect that this was a good choice to reach out to me.


The Bottom Line


It's going to take practice. Like I mention in the video above, I've had years of practice and I still mess up my end of the conversation. The good news is that most people aren't going to notice.


Having a "pocket" script (whether it's literal or just a tiny outline you keep in your mind), really helps you to keep on track with the conversation and help both you and the prospect decide if it's a good idea to move to the next step in your services. You'll want to create your own decision-making tree like the one above for the discovery section and the rest of your typical client workflow. This works best with a leadership mindset, and you can learn more about that here.


Click the image below to hear the podcast!


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