HMEs aren't caterers

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Even though the pharmaceutical industry has pledged “No more pens, pads, and pizzas,” drug reps still drop off these goodies every day in the same offices that HME sales reps also call on. Just as bad, many physician offices still expect these gifts.

No doubt about it: An occasional lunch does help the HME sales rep secure time with a referral source, but it is high time that the industry got out of the catering business. Focus on services (“We have Saturday and Sunday hours”), product information (“We’ve invested in the latest oxygen technology”) and customer care (“We host Better Breathers support groups weekly”).

Train your sales reps to trade “content for calories.” The first thing out of their mouths should not be: “I’ll bring lunch.” If your sales reps are reluctant to change, ask them: “If you were paying for the lunches out of your own pocket, would you still do it?” Once they break the gift-giving mindset, your reps will engage with the referral source on a higher level. A true business relationship will develop, and the referral source will see your company as a valuable resource and a critical piece of patient care. hme

Ty Bello, RCC, is president of Team@Work