In my 20 years of medical sales experience, one of the most common mistakes I see sales professionals make is having follow-up calls that are not what they should be. If you are calling someone who has done business with your organization in the past but you don't know them well - or it is your first time personally calling them, make sure you are well prepared.
And do yourself a favor - put as much pre-call planning into your phone calls as you do your personal visits for the best results. There really should be no such thing as a "cold call" any more with key people in an organization since you can do so much research before you call. If they have any authority - they expect that you have done your homework.
Here is an outline I might use to call on someone I don't know well....
Good morning _____, this is Rob Bahna with Resuscitation International.
I have been working with other ________ departments (or title you are talking to), discussing some ideas that have helped them deal with some of the unique challenges they are facing today with SCA victims. We have seen some outstanding customer satisfaction and positively affected patient outcomes.
I would like to ask you a few questions to see if some of our solutions might make sense for your department.
I would like verify some of the information I have been able to learn about your facility and
make sure I understand them from your perspective as the ____________(title)?
Ask about them…..
I understand you have been a _________ for 5 years. What are the biggest changes you have seen in that time as it relates to how your responsibilities have evolved? Where do you find yourself spending a lot of time where you didn’t use to?
Besides yourself, who else do you involve in the important process of purchasing medical supplies and equipment?
Sell Your Company
Jane, we know it is important for you to know who you are doing business with. Resuscitation International has been servicing the emergency medical supply and equipment needs of pre-hospital professionals for 10 years. We have a proven track record of being an industry leader. We are proud to have more than 100,000 agencies and professionals rely on RI.
______, as you are well aware, over the last 10 years we have seen a shift in acuity levels. You are being asked to do higher levels of care in many situations with less resources, especially in today’s economy. RI has been in business for over 10 years – and we can help you deal with these challenging times.
Determine Your Customer’s Objectives
Make them stop and think – ask high gain questions that differentiate you and are not only situational.
1) What Criteria do you use to evaluate your potential suppliers (business partners)?
2) How do you prefer to place your orders?
3) Which company do you currently order your supplies from today?
Do you order from more than one company?
4) Could you please share with me what your experience has been with Resuscitation International?
If they do not volunteer it – ask them
5) It looks like you have not ordered from us in the last ______, could you share with me some of the reasons?
Engineer Agreement to Demonstrate Product-Program
________, I appreciate you taking the time to share this information with me. Based on your feedback, and some recent changes we have made it (whatever areas kept them from ordering from us – or things they like about others) we believe we can make your job of ordering easier and be very competitive from a price perspective.
When do you normally place your supply orders? What do we need to do to earn a shot at your next order?
If my pricing is competitive, would there be any other reason that would prevent us from doing business together?
Best of Luck. Be proud to put your signature on everything you do. Or don't do it.
Vice President of Sales
Tags: selling, Essential Healthcare Management, hospitals, healthcare suppliers, teamwork, medical devices, brand management, market research, priorities, sales, business growth, Management, strategic thinking, business development
Communication between human beings is an interesting thing. It is critical to our success personally and professionally. It is critical to developing and maintaining good relationships. However, there are so many obstacles to effective communication that we continually need to be students of how to communicate better.
Since we have added voicemail, email and texting to our daily repertoire of communicating, in my mind the challenges have only become greater. Remember that what is convenient is not always the best way (how many gourmet restaurants microwave their food).
We all have heard that “perception” is reality. In other words, it does not matter what we are trying to communicate. What matters is how the other person perceives our communication and interprets what we are saying. As we all experience, we often believe we are being very clear in our communication, but we become frustrated that the other person does not understand or “get” what we are saying.
Have you ever dealt with someone who seemed to be a completely different person if you communicated with them voice to voice versus email or texting? How many times have you been a part of an email chain that grew legs and got out of control, and it probably took much longer to fix the issues it created than should have ever happened?
Email and texting are convenient. And we all know people who rarely answer their phones any more without screening who they are talking to with caller ID. And we can do email at any time from almost anywhere these days.
People take action based on emotion as long as they can justify it logically. There is always the element of “What is in it For Them” – even if it is altruistic feelings they get from volunteering for something. If you hinder the emotional impact of communication, you limit your effectiveness in getting someone to take action.
Consider a sales person or manager that spends hours preparing for and then delivering a communication. They spend time preparing the presentation, learning about the audience, learning about the competition or barriers they are up against and practicing their presentation.
During the presentation they have several goals usually involving: building trust and credibility, getting the other person to share their thoughts and concerns, uncovering needs and challenges, helping the other person see why the proposed solution provides benefits and advantages, and uncovering and dealing with any obstacles or objections, and closing for action.
Then when it comes time to follow up, we send an email or call them to follow-up and ask if they have made a decision about our product or have implemented the ideas. Without recreating the emotion, trust, getting them excited and reminding them why they should take action… All that initial work is shortchanged.
I am equally guilty of this. I have to remind myself that there are no shortcuts and that just because we communicated something one time, it was not necessarily perceived how we wanted nor do they still have the emotion. They have had 15 things happen since we talked to them and some of those are probably equally important in their world. You always have to bring your project back to the forefront, and that is very difficult to do without effective follow-up.
Have a great week. Put as much time and energy in your follow-up and watch your results soar.
Remember the definition of insanity is doing things the same way and expecting different results. What are you doing differently in 2012?
Vice President of Sales
The old axiom "Practice Makes Perfect" has been around for a long time. Anyone who has seen my golf game knows that Practice Does Not Make Perfect. Perfect Practice Makes Perfect. If I go to the driving range, what I do is practice my imperfect golf swing, to make it more consistently bad.
If we talk about my softball swing - it is another story. From years of baseball from little league through college, and 25 years of softball, I know the fundamentals of the swing and what it should be. The more I practice, the more confident I become and the more muscle memory kicks in so I don't have to think about it.
Have you made any New Years Resolutions for 2012? Why do so many resolutions fail? Most resolutions (assuming they are reasonable, achievable and important to the person making them) fail because we don't make them habits. You have probably seen different opinions on how long we have to do something to make it a habit. I have often heard it takes 21 days (or 28 days) of consistently doing something before something becomes a habit.
Psychological research on this question in a paper was recently published in the European Journal of Social Psychology. Phillippa Lally and colleagues from University College London recruited 96 people who were interested in forming a new habit such as eating a piece of fruit with lunch or doing a 15 minute run each day Lally et al. (2009). Participants were then asked daily how automatic their chosen behaviours felt. These questions included things like whether the behaviour was 'hard not to do' and could be done 'without thinking'.
When the researchers examined the different habits, many of the participants showed a curved relationship between practice and the automaticity of it. On average a plateau in automaticity was reached after 66 days. In other words it had become as much of a habit as it was ever going to become.
Although the average was 66 days, there was marked variation in how long habits took to form, anywhere from 18 days up to 254 days in the habits examined in this study. As you'd imagine, drinking a daily glass of water became automatic very quickly but doing 50 sit-ups before breakfast required more dedication.
The researchers also noted that:
Missing a single day did not reduce the chance of forming a habit.
A sub-group took much longer than the others to form their habits, perhaps suggesting some people are 'habit-resistant'.
Other types of habits may well take much longer.
66 days is a considerable amount of time and requires strong commitment. And remember that this applies to business habits as well.
If you want call on 2 new prospects each day in addition to your current customers, track your progress each day for 66 days.
If you want to do a better job of asking for referalls, track your progress for 66 days.
If you want to lose weight, track your calorie intake, or your calories burned during excercise , check out the free App Lose It! for the iIPad or IPhone. It will give you a good example of tracking and how motivating that can be.
And practicing bad habits will not get you the results you are looking for, don't hesitate to ask for help to make sure you are practicing correctly.
Have a great 2012.
I am an avid reader. This weekend I read probably the only Dean Koontz book I have never read - "A Big Little Life".
For those of you who are not Dean Koontz fans (and don't say you are not if you have never read one of his books), this is a non-fiction book he wrote as a memoir about his golden retriever, Trixie.
Admittedly, I am a dog lover. I am fortunate to have a great dog, Jeffrey, that has given us more joy and happiness than we could have imagined. As you know, the books and movies about dogs have been very popular in the past few years. I don't think that is coincidental with the down economy and other pressures we all face in our world today.
This book is worth the $15 price tag and I found several different parts in the book that really made me think about our relationships with dogs, and how we view the world if we stop and analyze it from the perspective of why dogs are our "best friends".
Trixie was adopted at the age of 3 and for the next 9 years impacted Dean and his wife Gerda with her " intelligence, her innate joy and her uncanny knack for living in the moment."
A few passages from the book:
"In this big world, she (Trixie) was a little thing, but in all the ways that mattered, including the effect she had on those who loved her, she lived a big life."
"Dog's joy is directly related to the fact that they do not deceive, do not betray, and do not covet. Innocence is neither naive nor unhip; innocence is the condition of deepest bliss."
"Loyalty, unfailing love, instant forgiveness, a humble sense of his place in the scheme of things, a sense of wonder - these and other virtues of a dog arise from his innocence. The first step toward greater joy is to stop fleeing from innocence, begin retreating from cynicism and nihilism, and embrace once more the truth that life is mysterious and that it daily offers meaningful wonders for our consideration."
'When we have the deepest affection for a dog, we do not possess that love but are possessed by it, and sometimes takes us by surprise, overwhelms us. When we take a dog into our lives, we ask for it trust, and the trust is freely given. We promise, I will always love you and bring you through troubled times. The promise is sincerely, solemnly made. But in a dog's life as in our own, there come those moments when we are not in control, when we are forced to acknowledge our essential helplessness. Looking into the trusting eyes of the dog, which feels safe in our care, and knowing that we not deserve the totality of its faith in us, we are shaken and humbled."
T.S Eliot: The only wisdom we can hope to acquire / Is the wisdom of humility.
"Dog's lives are short, too short, but you know that going in. You know the pain is coming, you're going to lose a dog, and there's going to be great anguish, so you live fully in the moment with her, never fail to share her joy or delight in her innocence, because you can't support the illusion that a dog can be your lifelong companion. There's such beauty in the hard honesty of accepting that and giving love while always aware that it comes with an unbearable price. Maybe loving dogs is a way we do penance for all the other illusions we allow ourselves and for the mistakes we make because off those illusions."
Dogs live most of life
in Quiet Heart.
Humans live mostly next door
in Desperate Heart.
Now and then will do you good
to live in our zip code.
- Trixie Koontz, Bliss to You
Have a fantastic Holiday season and New Year. And may all of us live A Big Little Life..
One of my favorite sayings in life, on the surface, may seem to be a little odd:
"Life Is Too Short To Dance with Ugly Men"
I have always heard this attributed to author, actor, and comedian Mae West. Given her seemingly before her time attitude and quotes from the 30s and 40s, she probably meant it literally.
“You only live once, but if you do it right, once is enough.”
― Mae West
“I generally avoid temptation unless I can't resist it.”
― Mae West
However, I have always related this quote to ATTITUDE, not physical appearance. To me, the most important thing that we control, that impacts our success and happiness more than anything else, is our ATTITUDE. Life is difficult at times, even with a positive attitude. But if you are a glass half empty person, it is a long road.
A couple of definitions of UGLY:
Disagreeable; unpleasant; objectionable.
Threatening trouble or danger.
Mean; hostile; quarrelsome.
Personally, I don't want to even be around an UGLY ATTITUDE. I try to avoid hiring them, working for them, working with them and even hanging around them. We can't always control our situation, but where you can, AVOID UGLY.
You have the choice of how you react personally to situations. You can find the positive, or you can find the negative. And if you are in a situation where you can't find the positive, then take the steps to get out. It is not worth it.
That may seem over-simplistic and easy to say. But all you have to do is look around and you will find examples of people who have seemingly UGLY situations and they don't let them change their attitudes. Sure, they may have a bad moment or a bad day, we are all human. However, they don't let things turn them into UGLY PEOPLE.
Think of how many people you impact on a given day. When they walk away from you - have they "Danced with An Ugly Man"?
And maybe most importantly, what about those people you don't "have to" be nice to, how do they feel walking away from you?
Have a great week. Don't let anyone make you UGLY. Especially you.
What cloud computing really means: The next big trend sounds nebulous, but it’s not so fuzzy when you view the value proposition from the perspective of IT professionals.
This article was published with permission from InfoWorld. Article by Eric Knorr, editor in chief, InfoWorld and Galen Gruman, executive editor
Cloud computing is all the rage. “It’s become the phrase du jour,” says Gartner senior analyst Ben Pring, echoing many of his peers. The problem is that (as with Web 2.0) everyone seems to have a different definition.
As a metaphor for the Internet, “the cloud” is a familiar cliché, but when combined with “computing,” the meaning gets bigger and fuzzier. Some analysts and vendors define cloud computing narrowly as an updated version of utility computing: basically virtual servers available over the Internet. Others go very broad, arguing anything you consume outside the firewall is “in the cloud,” including conventional outsourcing.
Cloud computing comes into focus only when you think about what IT always needs: a way to increase capacity or add capabilities on the fly without investing in new infrastructure, training new personnel, or licensing new software. Cloud computing encompasses any subscription-based or pay-per-use service that, in real time over the Internet, extends IT’s existing capabilities.
Cloud computing is at an early stage, with a motley crew of providers large and small delivering a slew of cloud-based services, from full-blown applications to storage services to spam filtering. Yes, utility-style infrastructure providers are part of the mix, but so are SaaS (software as a service) providers such as Salesforce.com. Today, for the most part, IT must plug into cloud-based services individually, but cloud computing aggregators and integrators are already emerging.
InfoWorld talked to dozens of vendors, analysts, and IT customers to tease out the various components of cloud computing. Based on those discussions, here’s a rough breakdown of what cloud computing is all about:
This type of cloud computing delivers a single application through the browser to thousands of customers using a multitenant architecture. On the customer side, it means no upfront investment in servers or software licensing; on the provider side, with just one app to maintain, costs are low compared to conventional hosting. Salesforce.com is by far the best-known example among enterprise applications, but SaaS is also common for HR apps and has even worked its way up the food chain to ERP, with players such as Workday. And who could have predicted the sudden rise of SaaS “desktop” applications, such as Google Apps and Zoho Office?
2. Utility computing
The idea is not new, but this form of cloud computing is getting new life from Amazon.com, Sun, IBM, and others who now offer storage and virtual servers that IT can access on demand. Early enterprise adopters mainly use utility computing for supplemental, non-mission-critical needs, but one day, they may replace parts of the datacenter. Other providers offer solutions that help IT create virtual datacenters from commodity servers, such as 3Tera’s AppLogic and Cohesive Flexible Technologies’ Elastic Server on Demand. Liquid Computing’s LiquidQ offers similar capabilities, enabling IT to stitch together memory, I/O, storage, and computational capacity as a virtualized resource pool available over the network.
3. Web services in the cloud
Closely related to SaaS, Web service providers offer APIs that enable developers to exploit functionality over the Internet, rather than delivering full-blown applications. They range from providers offering discrete business services — such as Strike Iron and Xignite — to the full range of APIs offered by Google Maps, ADP payroll processing, the U.S. Postal Service, Bloomberg, and even conventional credit card processing services.
4. Platform as a service
Another SaaS variation, this form of cloud computing delivers development environments as a service. You build your own applications that run on the provider’s infrastructure and are delivered to your users via the Internet from the provider’s servers. Like Legos, these services are constrained by the vendor’s design and capabilities, so you don’t get complete freedom, but you do get predictability and pre-integration. Prime examples include Salesforce.com’s Force.com, Coghead and the new Google App Engine. For extremely lightweight development, cloud-based mashup platforms abound, such as Yahoo Pipes or Dapper.net.
5. MSP (managed service providers)
One of the oldest forms of cloud computing, a managed service is basically an application exposed to IT rather than to end-users, such as a virus scanning service for e-mail or an application monitoring service (which Mercury, among others, provides). Managed security services delivered by SecureWorks, IBM, and Verizon fall into this category, as do such cloud-based anti-spam services as Postini, recently acquired by Google. Other offerings include desktop management services, such as those offered by CenterBeam or Everdream.
6. Service commerce platforms
A hybrid of SaaS and MSP, this cloud computing service offers a service hub that users interact with. They’re most common in trading environments, such as expense management systems that allow users to order travel or secretarial services from a common platform that then coordinates the service delivery and pricing within the specifications set by the user. Think of it as an automated service bureau. Well-known examples include Rearden Commerce and Ariba.
7. Internet integration
The integration of cloud-based services is in its early days. OpSource, which mainly concerns itself with serving SaaS providers, recently introduced the OpSource Services Bus, which employs in-the-cloud integration technology from a little startup called Boomi. SaaS provider Workday recently acquired another player in this space, CapeClear, an ESB (enterprise service bus) provider that was edging toward b-to-b integration. Way ahead of its time, Grand Central — which wanted to be a universal “bus in the cloud” to connect SaaS providers and provide integrated solutions to customers — flamed out in 2005.
Today, with such cloud-based interconnection seldom in evidence, cloud computing might be more accurately described as “sky computing,” with many isolated clouds of services which IT customers must plug into individually. On the other hand, as virtualization and SOA permeate the enterprise, the idea of loosely coupled services running on an agile, scalable infrastructure should eventually make every enterprise a node in the cloud. It’s a long-running trend with a far-out horizon. But among big metatrends, cloud computing is the hardest one to argue with in the long term.
From Strategic Systems International
Any one of us who have been in positions to interview and hire people over the last 10 years are probably familiar with "Behavior Based Interviewing".
Behavioral Based Interviewing is interviewing based on discovering how the interviewee acted in specific employment-related situations. The logic is that how you behaved in the past will predict how you will behave in the future i.e. past performance predicts future performance.
Like most trends in business, I believe it has some merit based on the level of person you are interviewing, what their experiences have been, and what you are really looking for in an employee.
One of the values of the technique when it first came out - was that it forced "professional interviewers" to think differently and give real answers that they had not rehearsed or prepared in advance. Whether you are a sales person questioning customers, a manager questioning employees or even personally, stop and think about the value of that for a minute.
Here are a few examples of Behavioral Based Interviewing Questions:
•Give an example of an occasion when you used logic to solve a problem.
•Give an example of a goal you reached and tell me how you achieved it.
•Describe a decision you made that was unpopular and how you handled implementing it.
•Have you gone above and beyond the call of duty? If so, how?
•What do you do when your schedule is interrupted? Give an example of how you handle it.
•Have you had to convince a team to work on a project they weren't thrilled about? How did you do it?
•Have you handled a difficult situation with a co-worker? How?
•Tell me about how you worked effectively under pressure?
And in this style of interviewing - the follow-up question is also planned out based on which way you answer. You are generally asking questions by category trying to figure out someone’s resilience, persuasiveness, negotiation skills, adaptability, ambition, integrity, analytical thinking, sales ability, management style...
Do you have a list of questions like this that you ask based on what you are trying to accomplish with the person/people you are questioning? Whether it is interviewing a potential candidate, learning about a customer, motivating a team or understanding an assignment given to you - the quality of the questions you ask will help determine your success.
The more prepared you are; the better listener you will be able to be. If you don't know the questions cold, you will not be able to listen as effectively as someone who is really prepared.
Think of the top 3 objections you expect from any situation and be prepared to deal with them with good questions up front to remove them as obstacles whenever possible.
If you anticipate that they will resist your proposal because of people in their facility fighting "change" you might ask, "Can you give me an example of a time when you helped a staff member accept change and make the necessary adjustments to move forward?"
Can you tell me about a time when you had to convince someone in authority about your ideas? How did it work out?
Describe a project or idea that was implemented primarily because of your efforts. What was your role? What was the outcome?
Spend the time to develop your questions. It will help differentiate you and your understanding of the people you are working with. It will also save you time and frustration in learning that the person you are working with might not know how to do something because they have never been asked to do it before.
Have a productive week. And that includes taking time to stop and think about your plan and further develop your process.
Thanksgiving is a great time to reflect on all of the things we are blessed with in our lives both professionally and personally. And quite often, those areas of our lives cross-over with the key mentors and true friends we have developed in our professions.
I have had a couple of key mentors in my career. The two that come to mind most are Don Paullin and my father, Bob Bahna. And hopefully one of the most important things I have learned from them is how to treat people. You can probably count on one hand the number of people in your career who you can really trust, and who truly have your best interests in mind.
How sad that is.
In today's world it is often so much about hitting numbers that the human side of business is lost. If you are in a leadership role - please try to remember that these are people's lives that you are dealing with. Hopes, dreams, plans, goals, futures, feelings and emotions.
Recently someone suggested that it was not poor performance that was the reason that they were being let go - and acted as if that made it ok. That person still has to go home and explain to their spouse, significant other, friends and family that they lost their job. And saying it was down sizing does not make that any easier.
If you don't understand that you can be a great leader that cares about people and does the right things, and drive outstanding results, then you don't really belong in a leadership position.
My mentors taught me many things. Among them are several key sayings that underline my philosophies, and I keep them with to try to help me make decisions.
Catch Them Doing Something Right
Lead From the Front
Managing is not Leading
Hard Data Drives out Soft
Differentiate Yourself and Your Company
Maximize Effectiveness - Move the Ball Forward on Every Interaction
Always be Willing to Learn and Change for a Better Way
Don't Expect What you Don't Inspect
Develop Your Sense of Urgency
Steps of the Sales Call are Critical - Every Time
Don't Do the Same Things and Expect Different Results
Know Your Cost Per Call and ROI (Including Opportunity Costs)
Set Expectations and Get Buy-in
The Definition of Insanity is Doing the Same Thing and Expecting Different Results
The Hardest Part about Climbing the Ladder is Fighting Through the Crowd at the Bottom
Eagles are Like Leaders - They Don't Fly in Flocks, You Find Them One At a Time
WIIFMs (What is in it for me) are Critical
Do The Right Thing, and Fight For It If You Have To
Don't Ever Lose Because You Were Outworked
Be Fair, Conistent and Don't ask People to Do things You Are Not Willing or Able to Do
Have a Blessed Thanksgiving. And Thanks to those of you who take mentoring to heart.