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Valerie V Show EP 9: Direct Referral Marketing for Home Care with Melanie Stover! (

Valerie V Show EP 9: Watch the replay here! Today we talked with Melanie Stover with Home Care Sales. It’s all about direct referral marketing! Whoot! Reach Melanie at or reach Valerie at Thank you Melanie Stover! #homecaremarketing #homecaresales #valerievshow

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Valerie V- Host:                                                Yay! Okay. Awesome. Alright I think we are live. Oh Melanie; we’ve conquered this technology thing. I think we’re both live. Woo hoo!

Melanie Stover:                Hi Val! We’re excited to be live with you.

Valerie V- Host:                Oh great. Thank you so much. Okay so, I am going to introduce to you all, Melanie Stover: she actually needs no introduction. I’m pretty sure most of you, unless you’re super new to the industry know who she is. Melanie is one of the owners or the owner of Home Care Sale, she’s going to tell us all about that in just a second. She’s been around much longer than I have, or well, I didn’t say much longer. But probably longer than me, huh? Wouldn’t you say?

Melanie Stover:                She does[inaudible 00:01:02] of sales

Valerie V- Host:                Yeah longer than me. So she’s a true veteran and knows everything there is to know direct referral marketing and that’s what she coaches, trains and does every single day. So with that, here I’m going to show this little cool thing on the screen.

Melanie Stover:                Ooh. Wow.

Valerie V- Host:                Tell us about Home Care Sales and what you offer and do for the home care and private duty industry.

Melanie Stover:                Thanks for asking, and firstly thank you for having me and thank you to all of you who are tuning in, I know your time is super precious so we’re going to make this as valuable as we can. I own Home Care Sales and our firm specializes in home health, hospice, private duty, in home care, and we help agencies skyrocket their referrals by teaching sales reps and owners the best methods in order to gain those referrals from the referral sources.

Valerie V- Host:                Wow. That’s an awesome…you practiced that didn’t you?

Melanie Stover:                Well, one of the things we teach at our academy is all about being ready for that opportunity so when the opportunity knocks, you can go ahead what you do with the world.

Valerie V- Host:                So she has her elevator pitch down to… And that’s awesome. If you ask me what I do, I do not have a great elevator pitch, I probably need to go to the academy. So before we go too much further, tell us about the academy and how that work and where your website is so people can invoLVed.

Melanie Stover:                We’re pretty easy to find right at, and you can go there. The academy that we’re speaking of, Sheryl Paltek is my business partner, and I created an academy that is really for… specializes in private duty home care, and how to creates a process to get repeatable referrals. The academy is an online system in addition, so it’s a home-study program you can do on your own, on demand. In addition, it also is a three-day live event where you get to go and practice. One of things we strongly believe is that with practice comes proficiency just like you were a clinician, this is a skill that you can learn, and you can become very proficient at gaining referrals.

So our academy is a complete system. It’s not just like “Hey let’s get out to this event and get a pep rally and go home.” It’s continued support; you sign up today, you can start taking the classes immediately online and when the next one comes up, and the next one is in Dallas in April, at the airport. You can go to that with peers, get with like-minded people and share stories and learn some of the techniques in practice. And then we have monthly group coaching calls. So those same folks will get on a call with Sheryl one night each month and we’ll talk about the successes or we’ll have a piece of curriculum, and then we’ll also problem solve. Anything [inaudible 00:04:00] where they can ask and get feedback on how to approach referrals sources.

So think of the academy as a complete sales training system as opposed to just a bootcamp or a one time event where you go home and you’re left to your own devices. So that is our first, kind of level one. Think of that as our level one: Home Care sales program called the High Performance Sales Academy. The second piece is we have a master’s program, and the master’s program talks about; When you got your accounts, now what? How do you bullet-proof them from other agencies who are constantly trying to take them from us?

Valerie V- Host:                Awesome. A master’s level, ooh that’s great too. So for all of you who especially whether you are a client of ours, or you are in… elder-car entrepreneurs, in our Facebook group, or on our LinkedIn group, or wherever you are, and you don’t have to be newbies, you can be veteran home care sakes and marketing and always learn something from the academy. So go to and check it out.

    Okay, next question, because we’re going to keep this short, but the next question is: let’s talk abour direct referral marketing. What is it? And give us some best practices.

Melanie Stover:                Alright so here is what is I consider direct referral marketing: it’s feet on the street, it’s about going out there and asking for referrals in a meaningful way and what I mean by that is not just going out they and saying, “hey you got anybody that I can help?” Or “who can I serve?”. It’s about going out there and identifying how you can differentiate yourself from the other competitors in your neck of the woods and I’ve lived in some big metropolitan areas, worked with some pretty big competition, living in San Diego we had over 300, just in San Diego proper, and so I know competition. Having the opportunity to go out and call on case managers who are getting 40 calls a day from different reps, you’ve got to sound different. So for me, it’s about getting super clear on what makes you different and quite frankly, why they would choose you.

Every time you’re in front of a referral source, that’s what they’re really thinking. Like “Why would I choose you Melanie? Over the hundred other home care agencies that are in this area?” And for us, that begins with breaking down your data, so if you have a lunch rate of currently being in business then you have a pool right there. Where did you get these plan from in the first place? And let’s talk about what is the strategy to gain more? Because we all believe, and I think you believe this too Val, is that people who need or could benefit from home care, they all aren’t getting it. There are many more people who could get home care, benefit from home care and yet our medical referral sources are not making those referrals.

So I do a lot of coaching, we do a lot of training and I try very hard to empower the sales reps, the owners, and talk about; What is your mission? And our mission is to help more people. How are we going to get that story across and become extremely focused on differentiating and practice. You said “Oh I heard your little elevator pitch.” Do you have one and could you say it? Because your referral sources don’t have time. Most of our business is drop-in business; meaning we drop into the social worker, we don’t necessarily have an appointment.

If you don’t have something of valuable to share with her in the first, literally thirty seconds, you’re gone. They’re walking away from you, so with practice comes proficiency. We talk about how to be prepared and having a sales message so that we… we focus on that pretty heavily, we create a sales focus of the month and then we create a sales message of the week. So and example of that would be obviously this month is February: Heart month: what can home care do for cardiac diseases or heart failure? Even our non medical friends, sometimes my non medical friends say to me “Whoa are you really going to talk diagnosis?” And absolutely. It’s probably one of my claims to fame in this industry, is getting medical referring sources to think in terms of diagnosis like how marketers, how non medical or in home care can support the disease process at home? And that doesn’t negate our hospice friends, that doesn’t negate our Medicare certified home health friends; in fact, it supports their outcomes. So think about this in terms of: what can you do to support your business partners, which are really your referral sources.

I always say that I recognize and, just as a given, it’s a foundation that you’re going to provide good care. Or else, our reps wouldn’t be working there. They have too much integrity to do that. Owners wouldn’t stick around, they would fix it. So everyone has care and care givers. Everyone has good owners. That doesn’t cut it. What are your differentiators? And how are you gong to position it so that it can be hear above the noise?The noise is just tremendous. You know?  You look in markets like LA and Dallas: wow there’s just so much noise there, with competition. You have got to, as a marketer, figure out what the differentiator is, and that differentiator could be you.

It could be just the customer service you personally are providing. So don’t feel like “Oh my God my home care is vanilla. We do bathing, dressing, meal prep. We do OGPT Speech. Yeah, sure, we all do that. But think about what makes the difference. What makes you unique? And don’t go out of the house until you’ve got that! Get your message down for every week. You start with your message on Friday, you’ve got mail. And you are very refreshing and the confidence comes across to your referral sources.

Valerie V- Host:                Man oh man, if you haven’t gone to a conference and listened to Melanie, you need to get yourself together and go, or join the academy. Oh my goodness she knows her stuff. Hold on a second here I gotta get rid of some… Okay. Alright so now you’ve told us a whole lot of stuff in a very short time already, and you’re brilliant, but if wanted to go out right now and they hadn’t taken the academy or they hadn’t gone through or they hadn’t heard you speak before; can you give us two really easy direct referral marketing strategies? And I realize there’s so much more to this than just saying “Oh here, hand him a flyer” but can you give us two direct referral marketing strategies according to Melanie Stover, that really can help anybody right now?

Melanie Stover:                Yes. So I’m going to break this down into two ways. One: if you’re already in business, you’ve got clients, the easiest thing for you to do is to use those clients. So I talked about this: I did a presentation at NAHC: National Association for Home Care a couple years and I call it my circle of communication or circle of care. If you have clients already, or patients if you’re a Medicare Home Health or Hospice, going back to that referral source and giving them patient updates or client updates, help them paint the picture of how you’re supporting that patient at home.

And so by just using your current… and I use this a lot with administrators, owners who maybe don’t have the hardcore sales skills that some of our marketers do and they’re a little more like “Ooh I don’t really wanna go knock on doors and do all that cold calling stuff.” This is probably the easiest way for me to tell them “grab your clients, take a look at them.” If you’re in a state where maybe you needed to get doctors orders for private duty, or if you’re a medicare certified home health and hospice, you have to have a signing position.

So look at where they came from, so you got: where did the patient or client come from? Go back to them, talk to them about that patient and remind yourself right now; everybody wants to talk about readmissions, and the top diagnosis’ of readmissions. Use your private duty home care, in home care, hospice or Medicare certified home health to talk about keeping them out of the hospital. Right? We’re gonna keep them out of the hospital within those thirty days. I know in private duty, we don’t do that a lot, or in home care, we don’t really track our patients or our clients that way.

Valerie V- Host:                We should.

Melanie Stover:                But even[crosstalk 00:13:40] that I work with who are, are getting audiences where we’ve never been before. Right? You’re up in this… these weeks at the hospital, you’re in post acute care collaboratives in your neck in the woods, and if you’re doing that and the majority of your… and competition is not, you’re gonna get more referrals. The fact that you’re going in there talking about Mrs. Jones and describing how your aids are supporting her ans her disease process, and keeping her out of the hospital, man you’re gonna get not only kudos, but be thought of as a care partner and not just a sitter service. You’re gonna be thought of as someone to be part of the solution of keeping these folks out. So that’s my kinda top suggestion if you already have patients or clients.

Now if you’re new and you’re like “Man, I don’t have that” or maybe “I only have five and they all came from word of mouth. What am I gonna do?” The very first thing I would decide is; the first you have to decide who your ideal client is or who your ideal patient is. What do they look like? Can you support? Now, every owner I’ve ever worked with says to me “I want 24/7 clients.” That’s what they say. When I say who is your ideal client? They’re like “Oh, I want the 24/7”. Got it?

So, know that it’s what you want, but go deeper than that. So what does that patient look like? If that’s truly what you want, what does that client look like for you? Are they a Parkinson’s Patient that, you know is a chronic-care disease, it’s going to last twenty years and maybe it starts out four hours a day, and it ends up being 24/7. I don’t know. But you have to look at the gifts you have in your agency and you’ve got them. Look at your caregivers: what experience they have. Once you gain that, you hear me talk a lot about kind of doing your homework ahead of time. Go after those medical referral sources. You know? Our job is to go out there and position ourselves as the best option for the diagnosis’ and what they see all the time.

So if you feel like you’re a Parkinson’s Guru and that you got that on your staff, then let’s talk about the Neuro Folks, let’s talk about the Parkinson’s Support Groups, let’s look at the movement disorders and movement disorder support areas in your neck of the woods, in your territory. It takes a little bit of forethought, because the shotgun approach of kinda going out and saying “Hey we’re home care, we’re great” doesn’t work. It worked for me in 1996, when I first started home care, but I used to be able to walk into Doctor’s offices and be like “Hi, I’m Melanie, I’m the OT from BNA at Pittsburgh. Can I have a patient?” And they were like “oh well that’s interesting. Sure”. Not anymore. Right? It doesn’t work like that.

We recognize things have evolved, we recognize the landscape, the medical landscape is changing so quickly and you see… you know, just recently I posted in your group of entrepreneurs; private duty in home care is going to rock it. You wait and see in these next five years. We are gonna be the solution to a lot of the hospital system’s challenges and those agencies who are positioned to do that, are going to get the contracts with the hospital, are gonna get the contracts with the advantage care providers, are gonna get the contracts. So not only are they going to get the clients, like we normally do, private pay, but now we’re setting ourselves up to really be an augmentation of the healthcare system, because everybody knows it’s cheaper to keep folks that hound them to put them in long term care and put them in there, so you watch the business aspect of this is going to wake up here soon and realize that we are the answer to that.

So top two ways. Or top two methods: if you’re an owner already or a sales rep, already have plans, use your existing clients. Secondly, if you are someone who doesn’t have a when doesn’t have a whole lot of clients yet, get super clear on who you want to serve. And it’s because people want to do business with people who are experts. You know? Anyone can go out and hire a sales trainer, anyone go to Sandler or anyone else in generic sales training, but why do people hire me? Because I know, I’m an expert in home care and how to get patients and how to get clients on service. So people want to do business with people who are experts, and you are an expert. You’re an expert in home care and specifically the ideal patient or client that you’re desiring to start with.

Valerie V- Host:                Awesome. And what I hear you saying too is, from someone who comes from more of the private duty background and even from a discharge planner’s perspective. Now, I was a discharge planner many moons ago but if you came to me and told me as a private duty provider, how things are going with June or Mary or whoever it was, and gave me some updates, that story’s going to stick in my head. So when I’m talking to other people, and I can’t recommend necessarily one home care agency, I have to give them the list, I can say “Here’s some stories, here’s some things that I’ve heard or here’s some things that I know to be true about certain home care agencies that we’ve referred to in the past or that people have chosen in the past” or however you want to phrase that.

But those stories are going to stick with me because I am so happy to know that as a discharge planner, I made the right choice in helping that family, and they made the right choice in selecting you as a private duty care provider. So it makes my heart happy to know that things are going well, and it will make the next family happy to know things will go equally as well.So those stories really do stick with me, and if I only had a couple of patients as a new person, if those patients are doing well or those clients are doing well, that’s still a great story.

You don’t have to use names, you don’t have to tell anybody who they are, but just to know that you have clients that you’ve kept out of the hospital for thirty days, that have certain diagnosis. So in private duty, what I heard you saying or I’ve heard you say this before, is we need to get smart about what’s going on. It’s not about the bed-bath, it’s not about the sitting next to somebody and talking to them and the companionship. Those things are a given. That’s going to happen, great care is going to happen. But knowing the diagnosis, knowing the last time somebody was in the hospital, and knowing that you’ve kept them hospital free for thirty days is a real plus for everybody, so you gotta keep track of that stuff. Right?

Melanie Stover:                Agreed. And I will share with you that one of the exercises we do in the academy, to identify if you’re talking about a feature or a benefit, and how that fits into USP. Nobody wants you to talk about bathing, dressing, grooming or doing the bed-bath stuff. What we’re really talking about, is what is the result of your services? So I always ask what are you going to have, do or be from the customer’s perspective once they engage you? Right? So once they allow you to care for one of their clients or patients, what are they going to have, do or be? Not the client, but what is the result for your referral source? And we spend a lot of time on that because differentiating is art, I think, often times people will go “well we do the same thing as fill in the blank home care” right? There’s a thousand franchises and even more proprietaries.

So how do you differentiate yourself? And it always goes back, to me as for the result. What is the result of the services that you’re going to provide, to the person that you’re speaking with? And it’s not always about care. I mean, ultimately, it is the amuser. But maybe not, to the person you’re speaking about. And one of the ways we can do that is to make sure you have a step by step process. The structure will give you freedom: meaning we have a six step process and in the very first step, we have six questions we like to ask. And those help us get… not only qualify that particular account but also, are they willing to do business with us? And that’s the six questions. Are you open to trying us, if they haven’t before, because I want to know straight, up front, your time is so precious. I want you to be in front of people who are willing to try you one time. Let you prove your customer service to them.

So one of the things we didn’t talk about here, but process is so important, and we teach that because I want an owner to know that their reps, or if they’re doing the marketing, that they’re going out there and approaching this and they’re not leaving anyone on the table. They’re not leaving anything behind. And a process gives you that structure, makes sure you’re hitting all those key points, but you still get to do your own flare. It still feels natural to you, and in full integrity and authenticity. So recognize that your job as an owner is to get the tools you need for your sales reps, or for yourself. As a sales rep, your job is to make sure that you’re not letting anything fall through the cracks, and I think that’s extremely helpful when you think about, tactic, of going in and working with the referral sources.

Valerie V- Host:                Awesome. That is so good. Thank you so much of all this. So tell us… now, you mentioned that the next academy is in April, but people can start anytime. So tell me two things. Number one: where can people see you in the next few weeks or months? Like what kind of conferences are you speaking at? And then tell me about the academy in April, in Dallas and how that works.

Melanie Stover:                Alright, so we broke up a little bit, so I’m going to just guess a tad bit on what you asked. But I think you asked; “Where we’re speaking at next?” I am speaking in Massachusetts at the home care association meeting there at the end of April, I’m also speaking at Casa, in May, if you happen to be in California or on the west coast, I’ll be at that event. As far as the academy, the academy is in April. April ninth through the eleventh. You know, the Dallas airport and it’s a great three day event. But please know it’s not just the event, it’s also part of the online learning system and support platform. In addition, April twelfth and thirteenth, we will be having the master’s program. And the master’s program is really about bulletproofing your accounts.

You know, I talk so much to my reps, I work with a number of reps right now. I just got off the phone with an owner this morning, a private duty owner and who’s doing the marketing and we talked about how to really bulletproof her accounts. She’s been in business a number of years and she has a good clientele, but it’s getting chipped away by the competition and so we talked about, for me, at a master’s level, it’s about protecting revenue for our referral sources, or producing revenue for referral sources and how does home care support that. How does it support their goals? So we talk an awful lot about goal alignment and how do we interact or meet our referral sources where they’re at in their business process, and not only just to serve their patients because serving their patients is a given at this point.

So master’s program and the high performance sales academy is in Dallas in April. And you can learn more about that at

Valerie V- Host:                Awesome. So, everybody go to, get enrolled, so you’re ready for the three day event coming up in April and Melanie, I want to tell you than you so much. This has been a great twenty-five/thirty minutes of information from the expert in Direct Referral Marketing. So you’re two best places to get clients are going to be your direct referral marketing efforts, listen to Melanie… wait a minute….which way should I go? Melanie, and also get your online act together and make sure that your online presence is awesome. So visit Melanie at

Melanie Stover:                Just really quick: my most successful clients, and maybe you can share this too. It’s about fifty-fifty. Fifty percent of their leads are coming from online, and fifty percent of their leads are coming from their direct marketer or sales person, whatever you call that person that gets out in the community. I will share with you that traditionally, the folks who go out in the community, have higher conversion rates, and Val might be able to speak a little bit to that. But you really need both sides to this, especially, in the private duty world, or in the world. You know? We need both that consumer piece and then out medical referral sources who are still making decisions for, or at least influencing decisions for our elderly and folks who need help.

Valerie V- Host:                Very true. Your online presence is now your business card, and it can’t be a static presence that never changes. It needs to continuously evolve. Everything that you’re involved in, in Direct Referral Marketing, all those events and branding opportunities, and things that you’re out there doing, those need to also show up on your Facebook, and on your website, and all those other places. It all works together.

So Melanie, thank you so much, we have done a great job here. We made it, we did the technology thing and it worked. Woo! Alright, so everybody go see Melanie at and thank you Melanie. That’s it for today, and we’ll talk to you again, maybe next month. We’ll do this again. We should do it again, next month

Melanie Stover:                Okay!

Valerie V- Host:                Alright thanks everybody. Bye!