The Catalyst … accelerating business growth in healthcare

More Important to Be Kind Than Clever

Posted by Jessica Hartman DeVore on Wed, Aug 29, 2012 @12:10 PM

One of the more heart-warming stories to zoom around the Internet lately involves a young man, his dying grandmother, and a bowl of clam chowder from Panera Bread. It's a little story that offers big lessons about service, brands, and the human side of business — a story that underscores why efficiency should never come at the expense of humanity.

The story, as told in AdWeek, goes like this: Brandon Cook, from Wilton, New Hampshire, was visiting his grandmother in the hospital. Terribly ill with cancer, she complained to her grandson that she desperately wanted a bowl of soup, and that the hospital's soup was inedible (she used saltier language). If only she could get a bowl of her favorite clam chowder from Panera Bread! Trouble was, Panera only sells clam chowder on Friday. So Brandon called the nearby Panera and talked to store manager Suzanne Fortier. Not only did Sue make clam chowder especially for Brandon's grandmother, she included a box of cookies as a gift from the staff.

It was a small act of kindness that would not normally make headlines. Except that Brandon told the story on his Facebook page, and Brandon's mother, Gail Cook, retold the story on Panera's fan page. The rest, as they say, is social-media history. Gail's post generated 500,000 (and counting) "likes" and more than 22,000 comments on Panera's Facebook page. Panera, meanwhile, got something that no amount of traditional advertising can buy — a genuine sense of affiliation and appreciation from customers around the world.

Marketing types have latched on to this story as an example of the power of social media and "virtual word-of-mouth" to boost a company's reputation. But I see the reaction to Sue Fortier's gesture as an example of something else — the hunger among customers, employees, and all of us to engage with companies on more than just dollars-and-cents terms. In a world that is being reshaped by the relentless advance of technology, what stands out are acts of compassion and connection that remind us what it means to be human.

As I read the story of Brandon and his grandmother, I thought back to a lecture delivered two years ago by Jeff Bezos, founder and CEO of Amazon.com, to the graduating seniors of my alma mater, Princeton University. Bezos is nothing if not a master of technology — he has built his company, and his fortune, on the rise of the Internet and his own intellect. But he spoke that day not about computing power or brainpower, but about his grandmother — and what he learned when he made her cry.

Even as a 10-year-old boy, it turns out, Bezos had a steel-trap mind and a passion for crunching numbers. During a summer road trip with his grandparents, young Jeff got fed up with his grandmother's smoking in the car — and decided to do something about it. From the backseat, he calculated how many cigarettes per day his grandmother smoked, how many puffs she took per cigarette, the health risk of each puff, and announced to her with great fanfare, "You've taken nine years off your life!"

Bezos's calculations may have been accurate — but the reaction was not what he expected. His grandmother burst into tears. His grandfather pulled the car off to the side of the road and asked young Jeff to step out. And then his grandfather taught a lesson that this now-billionaire decided to share the with the Class of 2010: "My grandfather looked at me, and after a bit of silence, he gently and calmly said, 'Jeff, one day you'll understand that it's harder to be kind than clever.'"

That's a lesson I wish more businesspeople understood — a lesson that is reinforced by the reaction to this simple act of kindness at Panera Bread. Indeed, I experienced something similar not so long ago, and found it striking enough to devote an HBR blog post to the experience. In my post, I told the story of my father, his search for a new car, a health emergency that took place in the middle of that search — and a couple of extraordinary (and truly human) gestures by an auto dealer that put him at ease and won his loyalty.

"What is it about business that makes it so hard to be kind?" I asked at the time. "And what kind of businesspeople have we become when small acts of kindness feel so rare?"

That's what's really striking about the Panera Bread story — not that Suzanne Fortier went out of her way to do something nice for a sick grandmother, but that her simple gesture attracted such global attention and acclaim.

So by all means, encourage your people to embrace technology, get great at business analytics, and otherwise ramp up the efficiency of everything they do. But just make sure all their efficiency doesn't come at the expense of their humanity. Small gestures can send big signals about who we are, what we care about, and why people should want to affiliate with us. It's harder (and more important) to be kind than clever.

Shared by Bill Taylor

Tags: leadership, marketing, teamwork, brand management, sales, business growth, strategic thinking, business development

Quality vs Quantity

Posted by Jessica Hartman DeVore on Wed, Dec 07, 2011 @09:08 AM

There are a couple of axioms that are often used by sales managers. Sales is about quality not quantity. Sales is a numbers game. Which of these age old statements is true?

Of course, they are both true.
 
If you and I have roughly the same playing field, and roughly the same selling ability, and you put forth the effort to make 25% more sales calls then I do - you should outsell me by at least 25%.
 
Of course you have to have quality - that goes without saying in professional sales. If you don't have quality - get out of the business. But don't ever forget that quantity matters - and it does not take away from the professional quality that is needed.
 
If we are really honest with ourselves (and your manager is not listening) we know that many of the big sales we have achieved have been because we were in the right place at the right time. That is a result of hard work and effort. If you want to call it luck - go ahead. Create your own luck.
 
I laugh at sales people who get offended at discussions of quantity. How many customer calls do you make in a day (either in person or on the phone - or if you are really smart in managing your time - both)? You should always have a goal in this area.
 
And then. at some point it becomes simple math. If you average 5 calls per day - you average 25 per week. 100 in a month. 300 in a quarter. 1200 in a year.
 
Set your goal to average 1 more than that. 6 calls per day is 30 per week. 120 in a month. 360 per quarter. 1440 per year.
 
That is 240 more calls annually by doing one more call per day. That is like having 2 extra months of selling time by making one more call per day. How would you like to earn 2 extra months pay?
 
No matter what you do - even if it is not sales, set your goal to average one more than you do today. One more workout per week is 52 per year. Asking for one more refferal per week is doing it 52 times per year.

Always look to improve your quality. Work hard on your sales/product/clinical knowledge so you can make the most of each opportunity. But never forget that you can't win if you are not in the game or if you quit before the next guy does.
 
"Success is a peace of mind which is a direct result of self-satisfaction in knowing you made the effort to become the best of which you are capable." John Wooden.

Rob Bahna

Tags: selling, Schroeder, marketing, determination, hard work, business growth, Management, strategic thinking, business development

Web Video Done Right

Posted by Stan Schroeder on Thu, Nov 17, 2011 @12:38 PM

A few weeks ago, I worked with my friend Amy Hardin to create a series of short web videos. Here’s the result. It got me thinking about web video since I get asked at least once a week about how to do it or why. So here’s my easy guide to on-line video. But first, see how it’s done.

Make it look good.

I know you can buy a Flipcam and crank out a video. In fact a toddler can produce and upload videos to YouTube as easily as diving headfirst out of his high chair. That doesn’t mean it’s a good idea if you are attempting to create a credible image of your company. If you are doing an informal series of tech tips or if you are hilariously funny, you can get away with the Flipcam approach. (Shooting your blog sitting on the toilet could work…). But the fact is, bad lighting and bad audio makes viewers skip to something else. It makes you look amateurish and cheap. I don’t know of many companies who are fighting over the Cheapskate Amateur position (although I’m sure they are out there).  Decent lighting and sound isn’t that hard to achieve. In Amy’s case, we rented a small studio (you’d be surprised at how affordable it is) and used decent microphones (you can rent them for about $35). Lucky for Amy, I know how to light and record this sort of stuff.

Make it short.

Rambling on and on while saying nothing works well for politicians but here in the real world, we need to get to the point. If your video is longer than about 3 minutes, you better make sure your critical points are in the first two minutes or nobody will ever see them. People on the web have the attention span of hummingbirds. You’ll notice Amy is pithy. She knew what she wanted to say and she nailed it. It helps to know what you are talking about. Keep it in short sound bites so you can spark some interest. If the viewer is interested they will dig deeper and spend more time. If you drag on, they’ll skip over to that site that shows that Chihuahua that pees while doing handstands.

Look into the camera.

I see a lot of videos where the subject is looking off to the side. I want to scream “Hey! I’m over here!” What are they looking at anyway? Probably some fat producer doing a funny little dance (that’s my trade secret – don’t even think of stealing it). Looking in the camera lens equates to looking into people’s eyes. You are talking right to them. This is important because people naturally engage with their eyes.

Why do it in the first place?

On-line video is a valuable tool in the marketer’s quiver for many reasons including:

  • It shows that there is a person behind the company, not a faceless corporation.

  • As a visual and auditory medium it is immediate and holds interest better.

  • You can use video to deliver value before the sales process even begins by showing your knowledge.

  • It enhances search engine placement

  • It is easily shared

  • Well produced video projects credibility and professionalism.

I know I will get a bunch of emails from people who disagree that production value counts. After all, there are many videos on YouTube with millions of views that look like they were shot with a box camera from 1920. The key is that good content will always prevail. But if you have good content AND good production values, you will realize more benefit from the effort. Unless you can suck linguine through your nose while riding a unicycle wearing nothing but a thong to the beat of Lady GaGa. In that case, you can forget everything that preceded this paragraph.

 

by Pete Monfre

Tags: selling, marketing, brand management, web video, pete monfre, sales, business growth, business development

EHM continues extensive growth this summer

Posted by Frank Ripullo on Mon, Jul 25, 2011 @03:36 PM

Since 2007, EHM has served the marketing and sales support needs of clients, combining corporate account strategy and operational infrastructure. As new federal regulations continue to change the healthcare industry, EHM is growing into a thought leader and educating clients on how these changes affect their business development prospects. EHM guides clients through the contracting/sourcing process and helps companies position and present their offerings to key decision-makers and target audiences.

EHM has recently added many new clients, including Customed USA. Customed is the mainland U.S. division of Puerto Rico Hospital Supply Inc., producing medical kits and trays for virtually all hospital procedures and forms of treatment. To help healthcare providers avoid purchasing unnecessary supplies, the medical kits are customized to fit the needs of each ward or department. EHM will help Customed secure contracts with integrated delivery networks and group purchasing organizations across the United States.

This summer, EHM has added a Senior Sales VP, three Executive Directors, a new Director of Business Development and 56 trained and qualified sales professionals ready to help medical suppliers connect with key-decision makers and drive new business. The firm has the expertise to handle contracts within integrated delivery networks and group purchasing organizations. For more on how EHM is helping Customed, please read our announcement.

Tags: Essential Healthcare Management, Essential Healthcare, marketing, EHM, healthcare, healthcare suppliers, gpos, IDNs, integrated delivery networks, medical devices, Healthcare Service Provider, GPO, Customed USA, Puerto Rico Hospital Supply Inc, PRHS, medical kits, customized medical kits, sales, business growth, business development

New Executive Directors expand EHM expertise

Posted by Frank Ripullo on Thu, Jul 07, 2011 @05:55 PM

The medical supply industry is growing and a wave of companies are acting quickly to claim a share of the market.  The most successful suppliers are aligning with seasoned professionals who can spur demand for their products and services with key healthcare decision makers.  We know working within integrated delivery networks and group purchasing organizations is a delicate process.  At EHM, we use our expertise in business development and marketing to help our clients maneuver through the healthcare maze.

We have recently expanded our diverse business development expertise by adding two highly experienced, results-driven executive directors to our leadership team.  Espen Kateraas brings 16 years of experience in the global medical supply industry.  He has developed, launched, and marketed medical devices in markets around the world, including Europe, South America, and the Middle East.

Joining Kateraas is George M. Mathew Jr., a marketing expert in the medical supply industry.  Before joining EHM, Mathew was a product manager, responsible for the launch and growth of several major branded and generic drugs, diagnostic tests, and medical devices.  Mathew brings valuable experience in a variety of functions including brand management, strategic marketing, operations, sales, business development, market research and forecasting.

We are excited to introduce Kateraas and Mathew to the EHM leadership team.  Please read our press announcement to learn more about our new executive directors.  Vistit: www.essentialhm.net/media/ehm-news/

Tags: Essential Healthcare Management, marketing, EHM, healthcare, healthcare suppliers, gpos, IDNs, integrated delivery networks, medical devices, brand management, market research, GPO, Espen Kateraas, generic drugs, branded drugs, diagnostic tests, market forecasting, George M Mathew Jr, kateraas, sales, business growth, Management, strategic thinking, business development

The Virtues of the Outsourcing Model, Part 4: Examining Culture

Posted by Stan Schroeder on Wed, May 11, 2011 @10:11 AM

In our final installment on the virtues of the outsourcing model, we examine the third factor you should consider when evaluating whether outsourcing could improve the productivity and financial climate of your company. Robert Ryan’s position paper on the topic of outsourcing posited that restructuring how companies utilize their human capital, or, in other words, their workforce in-house and elsewhere, will affect how profitable they will be in the future. Ryan suggests that by increasing a company’s agility, or the speed at which they are able to adapt, it will be more likely to weather the many changes to come in the business world.

We have already examined how capacity and capability can affect a company’s decision to outsource. Culture ranks as the third factor that should be considered before making the leap to outsourcing. As Ryan asks, “Do the current organizational norms and values support the development and implementation of the strategy?”

While culture can also refer to the acceptability of this practice in a certain office, it also relates to the acceptability of outsourcing in a particular industry. Ryan points to technology as an industry particularly well-suited to outsourcing. “Competition for specialized technological expertise is found on the world market,” he writes. “With the rise of efficient collaboration capabilities, services can be found in many emerging countries of the world…. Because of technology improvements, work groups can all be brought into our living rooms.”

The health care industry also offers a culture that allows for ad hoc collaboration to fill any gaps in capacity and capability that may exist in one company. Here at EHM we not only serve as the link to connecting health care suppliers with the group purchasing organizations (GPOs), accountable care organizations (ACOs) and integrated delivery networks (IDNs), but we can also handle all of your marketing, advertising and selling needs for you. If you need help determining if these options are right for you, contact us, and we can talk you through the entire process and answer any questions that you have.

Tags: Essential Healthcare Management, Schroeder, Ripullo, marketing, EHM, healthcare, hospitals, ACO, Accountable Care Organizations, healthcare suppliers, HHS, Regulations on ACOs, ACO Regulations, ACOs and suppliers, HHS Regulations, gpos, outsourcing model, IDNs, integrated delivery networks, patient satisfaction

EHM launches expanded services

Posted by Stan Schroeder on Sun, Feb 27, 2011 @04:29 PM

Essential Healthcare Management is rolling out expanded marketing and social media services at this week’s annual Federation of American Hospitals conference in Washington, D.C. The company also is highlighting its “Essential Approach to Business Growth in Healthcare Industry,” which is designed to healthcare companies better access the marketplace for their products and the services. A leading issue facing small- and medium-sized – even early-stage -- companies is lack of access to the decision-makers of large purchasing groups. EHM helps these companies navigate the healthcare maze and supports them in areas where they may lack expertise, such as sales force development, marketing or logistics. In 2010, EHM secured 15 national contracts for seven clients.

As part of an ongoing effort to provide even more value to these companies, EHM is initiating new strategic partnerships with firms that have expertise often needed by medical industry suppliers. EHM also has launched its new website and blog to provide a forum for dialogue on issues facing the industry and a way to share knowledge and best practices.

Look for Managing Partner Stan Schroder and Founder and Managing Partner Frank Ripullo at FAH.  They would be happy to share experiences and conversation with you or fill out a contact form for a follow-up call after the conference!

Tags: Essential Healthcare Management, Schroeder, Ripullo, marketing, EHM, healthcare, medical, hospitals, sales, business growth