Hero or Villain
.Delivering Bad News To Customers
Up in the sky! It's a bird
it's a plane
another rump rocket headed right towards your physician customers!
The only thing that can stop it is
well, you know.
overwhelming reason people buy from a company is because they
like and trust their distributor rep. How do you maintain
the account's trust? The way you handle giving bad news and
the way you handle adversity plays a big role in determining
whether you're a Super Hero
or a zero!
Rump Rockets Are Compliance Related
Whether it's the IRS, HCFA, CLIA, OSHA or any other government
agencies, deep down we all love to loathe them. Customers
tend to treat these regulations as bad news, but most often,
bad news is simply change. It seldom meets the dire predictions
of the doomsayers.
gets to break the bad news to doctors and practice managers?
You do! That makes you a change manager! Change manager
term straight from the latest sales book du jour. Sounds impressive,
but in reality, it's never easy, fun or comfortable managing
change. Basically, you're intercepting rump rockets!
Rocket # 1: Medicare
The first major change for physician offices (at least in
my lifetime) was when the Medicare program (which pays the
lion's share of most doctors' bills) announced that physicians
could only bill for and profit from tests that they actually
performed in-office. "Huh?" said the doctors, who
were accustomed to sending tests to reference labs and then
billing the patient much more that they were billed by the
referral lab. Uncle Sam said, "Whoa
the law to mark up [i.e., make a profit on] work performed
by someone else."
caused a lot of confusion to practices, but ended up leading
to a huge increase in physician office lab testing. In fact,
this "direct billing" requirement is still a major
impetus for in-house testing.
Rocket #2: CLIA
Next came CLIA'88. CLIA was your big opportunity to bring
bad news by the bushel to someone's front door! Most customers'
first reaction was that the government had said "No more
testing." To this day, there are still misconceptions
about what CLIA really means to a practice.
is old news. You delivered the bad news once, why should you
care about it now? Opportunities. The old axiom, "When
a door closes, a window opens," has never been truer
than of lab and diagnostic testing.
how does this offer you a window? Know the CLIA classification
level of each of your customers: "Waived," "Provider
Performed Microscopy" (PPM), "Moderately-Complex,"
and "Highly-Complex." Then, either maximize their
current status or upgrade them.
Virtually every customer is registered as at least CLIA-waived.
This presents huge opportunities because the products in this
category have been expanded over time, so those physician
offices that want to stay CLIA-waived have huge opportunities
to diagnose and treat patients faster and better. So, the
bad news is they have to have a CLIA-Waived certificate, but
the good news is that they can now perform dozens of tests
in their office for a nominal fee ($150 every 2 years). This
is one of the fastest growing segments of the market and there
are lots of exciting issues to talk about (the new NCEP Guidelines
for Cholesterol testing come to mind). So, educate your customers
to do as much as possible within this category and you'll
see some big sales and gross profit increases as well.
recently spoke to a physician's office that was CLIA-waived.
One physician from the group practice decided---on his own---to
begin performing a moderately-complex test. The practice manager
asked me if they could do this or if they were likely to be
caught. I advised them not to knowingly slide it by, since
the Medicare program would catch the error when the test was
billed. This would trigger a government investigation of their
billing practices and hefty fines would follow. It just isn't
then explained how easy it is to qualify as a moderately-complex
lab. So, while the bad news was, "If you break the law,
there are serious consequences," the good news was that
they could easily attain the next CLIA complexity level and
begin to expand their menu.
Once you understand the CLIA regulations, you become a partner
to that practice. So, is the moderately-complex category bad
news? No, it is change and the chance to do new things and
approach problem solving with new answers. Most companies
have turnkey programs to simplify CLIA regulations for customers
who are taking the plunge to the moderate complexity category.
Royal Rump Rocket: OSHA
OSHA, the "black coal in the stocking," is the granddaddy
of bad news! If there was ever a more confusing set of regulations,
I haven't seen them (except maybe Stark regs!). OSHA makes
CLIA look like a walk in the park! Especially the new safety
doctors offices are not in compliance with OSHA---not even
remotely in compliance. If they knew the repercussions of
noncompliance with this regulation, they would really be nervous.
broken the bad news, perhaps several times, so now what do
you do? You've heard all of the reasons and excuses:
don't have more than 10 employees." (It doesn't matter,
you still need to comply.)
never heard of any of this." (There have been stories
in most newspapers and TV. Would you like to see a copy
of the reg?)
too expensive." (OSHA cares about employee safety,
don't want to use the new safe sharps products, they are
difficult." (Then choose a different brand, let me
get you some training on the proper use.)
are not only the bearer of bad news, but now you are also
a nag! Why should you keep slugging away? Why not just give
up and move on to a new subject? Because these are opportunities,
and because it's the right thing to do.
return to why people buy: They like and trust you. To continue
to earn that trust, you need to be honest with them, educate
them, and provide solutions for their problems. Intercept
their rump rockets!
By helping them meet the new requirements, reviewing their
status on old regulations, and helping them to simplify the
change process. Medical practices have to comply or face huge
fines. There are also serious health consequences to employees
who work in practices that do not follow the regulations (a
long, slow painful death from AIDS is one of them).
you, the Manager of Change, must take the customer's hand
and walk them through the steps to compliance and the product
selections they will need to make. The beauty of this is that
each step to compliance is a sales opening.
To help customers with OSHA regulations, don't just sell them
an OSHA manual, but help them compile their MSDS sheets. This
will uncover all those drugs and chemicals they are buying
from another company.
opportunities for OSHA compliance are training videos, personal
protective equipment, safe sharps products
number of products you sell will help them meet these regulations.
many cases, "you control the horizontal and vertical."
You can educate them, improve their practice, provide a safer
environment for their employees, and sell more. And---you
will feel good doing it!
you're bearing bad news at times, but you bring programs or
services that go beyond the traditional role of just providing
products. As the Manager of Change and the Bearer of Bad News,
you will provide positive results to the practice. Whether
you improve revenues, patient care, patient handling, paperwork
processing, inventory issues, or employee safety, you've become
an integral part of their business. Become the Super Hero
that intercepts those rump rockets and places them gently
at the customer's door.