Retail: Put feet on the street

Q. Do I need an outside sales person for my retail store?
Friday, May 24, 2013

A. In retail, the goal is to drive as much traffic as possible into the store. You are trying to make the public aware you are there and give them a reason to come in. Much of this can be accomplished by installing signage, implementing store promotions, advertising in the telephone book and newspaper, optimizing your website for search engines, as well as taking out ads on radio and TV among the many other available places. But if you only focus on the buying public, you may miss all of the potential customers from referral sources who can send people to you.

In retail DME, I think focusing on outside referral sources is necessary at least a couple of days a week. I use a part-time salesperson who has learned about our products and how to sell them. Her goal is to be consultative, understand what the referral sources need and develop relationships with key people there.  

For many of the outside referral sources, our salesperson offers to bring in lunch or snacks and do an in-service to show some of the new and innovative products we carry.  This can work well for a home nursing agency, a care management company, a hospital department (like rehab) or a physical therapy center. For some of these groups, we have offered space in the store for their staff meetings or invited them in for an in-service.

For senior living facilities, she will promote an in-service with flyers and have a raffle for a small item to attract more attendees. She passes out 10% discount cards and has even arranged an excursion to the store with the activities director.

Chain retail pharmacies are some of our best referral sources, since they stock very few of the items we carry and their customers often ask where they can find them.

Michael Kuller, RPh, is the author of “The Next Step-Retail Home Medical Equipment.” He can be reached at