About 20 years ago, my first sales job out of college was in the healthcare field. My company provided home care for high-risk pregnancies (premature labor therapies) and I called mostly on OB-GYN physicians. I was providing a gourmet lunch to a large group of physicians one day (pizza) actually, and I asked one of the docs how he chooses which treatment he uses when it comes to me and my competitors. His answer was, “Since you guys all sell pretty much the same Vitameatavegamin, it’s whoever brought us pizza last.”
After a bit of being crushed because I was obviously not differentiating myself from the pack, I reflected to understand the power of frequency and recency. Frequency and recency are tactics commonly used in the medical/pharmaceutical sales field, whereby a physician is very likely to get “detailed” by different salespeople about the same drug/product several times a week. Kind of a beat them in to submission, shock-and-awe, process that is quite effective. Most pharmaceutical reps are partly measured based on their “frequency” of sales calls to target physicians.
Fast forward to today – in terms of networking and referrals, frequency and recency are equally as powerful. It’s one of the driving principles behind why networking groups that meet weekly (eg., BNI) versus every two weeks or monthly are more than 4X as effective with respect to the number and value of referrals. Out of sight, out of mind you might say. The more time and energy you spend building deep, meaningful relationships with your referral partners, clients, and colleagues, the better your results. When you see these folks on a regular, ideally weekly basis, and you focus on providing value to them, the more they will want to help you.
One easy strategy is to identify who your top 20 referral sources are (or whoever produces the top 20% of your revenue), be they referral partners, clients, or colleagues, and meet with them on a regular, consistent basis. Be sure to always deliver value and seek ways to help them, not just “visit,” or you’ll soon be a pest. Walk that fine line though and the results will be fantastic.
Oh, and the rest of my story about the pizza and the physician, is that you can believe I had a pizza delivered to that guy every Friday at lunch for a full year with a note and my business card – increased his utilization 50%. Frequency & Recency friends.