To The New Business Manager - For Fun and Profit, Try Business
Partnering With Your Accounts
practice consolidation combined with pressure from health
care providers to reduce costs pose a new set of challenges
for distributors. To maintain and grow their territories,
distributor representatives must call on more sophisticated
buyers who ask difficult questions and demand deep discounts.
Some distributor reps find themselves unprepared to deal with
these challenges. More importantly, some find that their companies
lack the infrastructure to support their expanded roles.
care facilities are learning that to grow and prosper in a
managed care market, they must be run like businesses. A growing
trend is to hire business managers to cut costs and increase
revenues. These people are likely college graduates or MBAs
that have one thing on their mind: reducing costs. But many
don't know a hill of beans about how medicine is practiced.
This is where you come in-and you can reap the rewards from
helping them do it.
Your Selling Approach
Although it may have been an adequate selling strategy in
the past, a recitation of features and benefits alone don't
cut it anymore. F & B's are great for those who care,
like the "techies" in a practice, but business managers,
on the other hand, don't.
showing only how products will generate revenue also won't
suffice for most accounts, especially capitated ones. Why?
Because in a capitated system every product used or service
provided takes money directly out of the doctor's pocket.
that reducing your prices isn't an option and that you want
the business at a fair price. How can you justify your prices
to a business manager who just wants to cherry-pick distributors
for the best price? By demonstrating how you and your company
will be a better option in the long run.
Worth More Than You May Think!
One intangible any experienced distributor salesperson has
to offer is his or her knowledge of medical products and how
the best quality ones contribute to lowered costs by:
patients better faster
the staff safe and healthy, i.e., minimizing costly risk
patients more satisfied
the practice more efficient, i.e., saving time = saving
products you spend valuable selling time on should somehow
contribute to lowered cost for the account. The manufacturer
of the product should provide you with a selling strategy
that demonstrates this; however, some manufacturers don't
do a great job taking their products beyond features and benefits.
Regardless, before you show a product, be well-versed on not
just features and benefits, but also on how it can either
generate revenue, improve patient outcomes, minimize staff
risk, or save the practice time and money.
Into Other People's Business: Partnering Strategies
Distributor pros must show business managers that they are
long-term players who are willing to partner with them to
help them achieve their goals. Consider implementing some
or all of the following ideas as "value-addeds."
their supply numbers to derive the cost-per-patient visit.
quarterly business meetings to discuss how you can work
with them to decrease their cost-per- patient visit.
to substitute/standardize products to save money.
"white-glove" service (unpack and put away supplies)
in exchange for control of ALL the business.
cash flow by increasing inventory turns.
customer satisfaction surveys to improve service.
an error log (including how problems were solved) and discuss
it at the quarterly business meeting.
electronic order entry.
value-added products/services (OSHA compliance, seminars,
educational materials, etc.).
if your territory is in an early stage of managed care, you're
undoubtedly under pressure from some accounts that want to
cut costs. Consider implementing some of these suggestions
to lay the groundwork for less "sophisticated" accounts
that will soon take the plunge to professional management.
your company doesn't currently offer any of these as a formal
program, work with your manager to create one. Then get ready
for the next series of changes.....then the next.....