Focus on what makes you different

Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Distinguishing yourself from the competition in a field of "me-too" marketers is among the greatest sales challenges HME providers face today. In fact, many argue, for providers participating in competitive bidding, it's a key ingredient to gaining market share. Joe Sansone, founder and CEO of TMC Consulting and TMC Orthopedic, teaches his sales reps and clients to avoid selling those "me-too" services and focus on what makes them different. He shared some of his thoughts on this recently with HME News.
HME News: On a scale of 1 to 10, how are providers performing, when it comes to marketing their businesses?
Joe Sansone: Probably about a seven. Most people go through the motions, and they often don't hire experienced sales reps. In other cases, they have non-salespeople who are expected to do other duties in addition to selling. Being mainly smaller companies in this industry, you often have a business owner or branch manager who's responsible for everything. They're not structured like larger national companies, with sales meetings, sales goals and quotas.
HME: Of the providers who do well marketing their businesses, what traits or characteristics do they share?
Sansone: No. 1, they recognize the competitive environment. They determine what makes their business different from their competitors and find their niche. No. 2, they offer training and focus for their sales department. They hold them accountable for attaining goals. Too many providers turn their salespeople loose and let them do what they want.
HME: What are the results when providers improve sales?
Sansone: When things are so competitive, it's the little things that make the difference. Those who have the best sales effort are going to succeed, and those who maintain the status quo will go out of business or be forced to downsize.
HME: What are some of the marketing pitfalls to avoid?
Sansone: I tell my salespeople: Don't say those things that everyone else says that don't mean anything. Things like "We have 24-hour, seven-day-a-week service." I train my reps to say "Here's what makes us different." Sales reps need to be taught exactly what to say. Also, never denigrate your competitors. When you criticize a competitor, you're criticizing your customer's choice of that competitor.
HME: When it comes to marketing, what one piece of advice would you give providers?
Sansone: They need to analyze their environment, recognize their strengths and market their strengths in such a way that their sales call differentiates them from everyone else.