Sales is everything, you guys


There was an interesting theme in recent conference calls by Invacare and Inogen to discuss financial results: a new focus on sales.

Due to a consent decree with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration that has limited Invacare’s ability to manufacture and sell products for close to four years now, sales haven’t been a big focus. The big focus: lifting the decree.

Enter Matt Monaghan, who took over the company in April. Since then, sales have been a big focus of the past two conference calls. Invacare hasn’t shared much in the way of specifics, but it has shared that it’s investing in sales (and new product development) and in training its sales team to be “specialists” vs. “generalists,” especial for complex rehab products.

Efforts to lift the consent decree are still humming away in the background, of course, but as Lara Mahoney, director of investor relations and corporate communications, told me recently, “We’re not waiting (until the decree is lifted). We’re making investments today.”

That’s a change of tune, and a good one.

Unfortunately, this change of tune has meant Invacare has had to adjust its workforce in other areas, but without a top gun sales team—consent decree or no consent decree—there is no company.

Inogen, which isn’t tangled in a consent decree but which is about to get hit with a reimbursement cut next year when CMS rolls out competitive bidding nationwide, also has a new focus on sales. Again, the company hasn’t shared much in the way of specifics, but it shared in this week's conference call (See the HME Newswire on Monday) that it hired sales reps in the third quarter.

CEO Ray Huggenberger said that the company wanted to make the investment in sales when times are good, to set the company up for 2016, when times won’t be bad but not as good. The reimbursement cut will hit the company’s rentals business, so the new focus on sales will help to shore up its direct-to-consumer business.

The lesson here: Invest in sales when times are bad; invest in sales when times are good. Plain and simple, always invest in sales.