Landing your First Client as a Self-Employed Pharmacist (How to become a self-employed Pharmacist – Part 9)

by Marvin on December 20, 2010

in Coaching Series

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You know what they say about first impressions?  It’s so critical how you conduct yourself with pharmacy owners.

To find out keep reading because in this chapter we go into how to handle that first phone call (and your future ones) and why.  Find out our step by step to handling your future clients.

If you’ve caught this coaching series in the middle, please take the time to start at the beginning of the coaching series and get yourself caught up!

Last week, I talked about How to Market to Your Target Market

Hopefully, you’ve done your homework and mailed out your marketing all over the areas you want to work in.  Now it’s time to go over how to handle your first phone call.

This lesson is titled “Landing your First Client as a Self-Employed Pharmacist”.

You’re slammed, prescriptions are piling up.  Customers want a consult.  Your tech has a pending question and a Doctor is on hold.

You take a breath only to notice that your cell phone is ringing.  You don’t recognize the number.  Is it a potential client calling because they’d received a marketing letter?

Your First Potential Client

A flood of thoughts pound your mind.

Wow, someone actually called!  My letter worked! How do I answer?  What should I say?  Should I answer or wait?

The first set of exciting calls will bring you one step closer to being an independent pharmacist.

Every response to your letter means an opportunity for potential new client. Commit yourself to seal a deal and set your first assignment.  But before we reveal how and what to expect, let’s go over some basic phone answering skills.

How to answer a call when your busy at work in the pharmacy

Phone answering skills are critical for your business.  The phone is still an owners’ primary contact with you.  The way you answer your phone will form your client’s first impression of you.

It’s not easy to answer a personal call when you have multiple phone lines ringing in the pharmacy.  Nor is it easy to talk to new clients when you’re surrounded by staff members who might overhear your conversations.

There are 2 ways you can handle this situation.

  • Answer It: If you have a few minutes to spare talk to the new client, answer the phone and let them know your busy at work but you will call them back at a more convenient time.  The only problem with this tact is oftentimes unexpected problems in the work environment often arise.  You want your first conversation with a potential client to be without very much interruption.
  • Let it go straight to your voicemail.  Make sure your voicemail says whom you are so the client knows they reached the right person.  I generally recommend this tactic.  It gives you time to prepare and compose yourself.

Call them back as soon as possible

Call back at your earliest convenience.  Owners like to know that they can rely on you and a quick response to their voicemail will give them a sense of reliability and a great first impression of you.

If you have limited time to talk, give them a call back and say you received the message but your busy at work and if you can call them after work.  Oftentimes, you may not have time to talk until you leave the pharmacy yourself.  But by then, the owner will have left his or her own pharmacy too.  So by spending a few minutes calling back during the day hours, this will allow you to set up a more convenient time to talk with the customer.

Ensure the callers are dealing with a professional business!

1) When talk on the phone be warm and enthusiastic.  Your voice is the first impression the caller will get of you.

2) We recommend you use your personal cellular line.  Answer incoming non-recognizable numbers courteously and identify yourself.  Say, for instance, “ Hello, or Good Morning. Susan speaking.”  This way the caller knows they reached the right person.

3) Keep your voice volume moderate, and clear when answering the phone, so your caller can understand you easily.

4) Answer all your calls within one business day.  I can’t emphasize this one enough.  A timely response reinforces the favorable impression of you and that you’re reliable, prompt and ready for business.

5) Make sure you are prepared to talk to a potential client.

How to Prepare

  • Always have a pen and a little notebook so you can write down some information you will need to stay in contact with those who call you.
  • Always get the name of the person who called and how they heard about you.  Most will be from your marketing letter, but some will be referred.  Get the name of the pharmacy, call back number and address.  This way you can keep in touch.  Keeping in touch is important, if they don’t need your services in the near future, most of the time they can use it sometime later.
  • Always have your schedule book with you.  Oftentimes you’ll be asked if you can start right away.  Having your schedule immediately available will give the impression you are organized and prepared.

What kind of questions will you be expected to answer?

A well written, clear marketing letter will explain your services.  But, there will still be some questions the caller will need for you to answer.  The client that calls you will be interested in your rate and getting to know a little bit about you.

  • Make sure you set your rate upfront.  We recommend you be fair and charge higher then what an employee would make but a lot less then a relief agency.  Try to keep this non-negotiable.  If the rate is fair, most clients will accept it and won’t attempt to negotiate with you.  A few will try to cut a good deal for themselves.
  • It’s important to keep in mind, not to undercut your rate.  Word of mouth travels fast and you don’t want to charge one client less and then have another client asking for the same deal.  Plus, you’re in this for the long haul and you want to make sure you and you’re client are happy with the fee.
  • If you do get the client that tries to negotiate and deeply undercut your rate, we recommend you handle this professionally.  Explain to them that you charge everyone the same, your services are much cheaper than a relief agency, and you charge more then what they would pay their employee because they can expense your service, which is a cost savings for them and you have to pay for your own benefits.

Close the deal

You will notice that some calls will come immediately.  These owners usually want you to come in as early as this week.  Some will call because they just want more information.  Others will want to meet you before they agree to use your services.

  • If your working full time, let them know which day your off and offer to visit in person.  Some clients will want to meet you and feel assured that they can trust you.
  • Most importantly make sure you make an attempt to schedule yourself for a day of work or future days with each client call.  For example, if they are just calling for info, let them know which days you are off in the upcoming weeks and ask them if they would like for you to come in to work for a day so they can try out your services.
  • If their response is “no thanks”, then offer to visit so they can meet you.  If you both can’t agree to a day to work or meet, make sure to tell them to call you back when they need your services.
  • If you don’t hear back make sure you follow up within a timely manner.

Next Week’s Lesson – Your First Day as a Self-Employed Contract Pharmacist

Now you have a good idea of how to handle your first call and why.

Next lesson, we’ll cover your first day on contract.  A very important chapter so be here to read it.

This concludes this week’s lesson.  Get your game on and prepare for success.

If you liked this lesson, sign up for our email newsletter.  That way you definitely won’t miss a chapter and you’ll get the entire coaching series free!

Want to break away from the chain pharmacies? Need help getting started as an Independent Pharmacist? Want an advantage over the competition in your area? Check out our Starter Package!

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Your First Day at a Client Site as a Self-Employed Pharmacist
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