up Your Value-Added Services: They're Diamonds in the Rough
what are value-added services?
know how to sell a product. You can touch it, see it, study
its function, caress it (for those folks who might have a
medical equipment fetish), but how do we wrap our arms around
a value-added service and sell the concept to our customers?
the concept of value-added services is easy: It consists of
programs or services that go beyond the traditional role of
simply providing a product on time, correctly, every time
to the customer. When Amazon.com sends me an e-mail to inform
me that an author whose books I have read before has a new
one being released, I consider that a value-added service.
It builds my loyalty to Amazon.com.
menu of value-added services for distributors differs, but
many include the following:
and customized client order forms
quarterly business meetings to review additional ways to
take costs out of the system, such as product standardization,
product replacement, contract agreements, etc.
or service hotlines
specials & incentive programs
key to remember is that you need to prove the value to the
customer. Many customers don't utilize distributors' value-added
services-in fact, many do not even know they exist. Why? We
do not put the effort into selling, explaining, and proving
their value to the customer. When we hand over a piece of
paper and say, "Look this over when you get a chance,"
we have relegated that information to the "round"
file in the other person's mind.
you are getting engaged. You take a 3-carat diamond ring,
fling it on the table and say, "Look this over when you
get a chance." I suspect the attitude across from you
might be "fat chance." Remember: If you don't treat
your programs like 3-carat diamonds then you haven't done
the right selling job.)
Your Own Services
The first key to any successful introduction of value-added
services is to make sure that you understand both the service
and the worth to the customer.
it improve patient care?
it improve the efficiency of the back office?
it produce or enhance revenues?
does this service add to the productivity or reduce the
expense to the practice?
it improve or simplify the ordering process?
it will make ordering easier, why should the customer care?
there an attendant cost or reduction in cost to the customer?
others offer the same or a similar service then how is yours
makes your offering different from someone else's offering?
of the key differences is always you. Many services require
some attention or intervention on the part of the sales rep;
this is where you can be the deciding factor in setting your
service apart from the competition.
the Customer Need
Ask the customer what would help them. They might surprise
you with their view of what enhances their practice-and sometimes
this will present an exciting new opportunity. On one sales
call, we were discussing updating the in-office lab with the
customer. When the customer said they probably would not be
doing that for awhile since they wanted to get a stress system,
bingo! We quickly changed modes and discussed stress.
the customer talk about how you can make their job easier.
Ask what you can do to make ordering easier, or what other
problems they encounter on a day-to-day basis. You might find
out that they need better back-order tracking, or perhaps
they need a pre-printed order form. They might give you an
idea for a new product or service that your company may wish
of you probably hand deliver your company newsletters to existing
and potential customers. How do you treat that encounter?
If you just hand it over and say, "Here's our latest
edition of MD News" you're wasting a great sales opportunity.
Show them that there's value to those sheets of paper.
example, "Did you know that you now have to evaluate
safe sharps? Here's an article that will help you." Point
to the article, better yet, open the newsletter to that page
when you hand it to them.
here's another example: Perhaps there's a special in that
issue that would be an exceptionally good value to the customer,
which you can also point out. "I didn't want you to miss
the opportunity for blue widgets since the savings are incredible.
See?" Customers place significance where we show them
value and reinforce that value.
Treat the Best Better
One of the more common concerns is that our best customers
have a way of becoming "low maintenance." As such,
they don't get the attention they deserve based on the profit
and income that they provide. Value-added services are really
important in these relationships. Go the extra mile to make
sure they are aware of what you offer and that you have really
helped them to utilize those services that suit the needs
of the practice.
Your Value-Added Services
Your customer needs to feel that there is flexibility in your
offering, and that you have given thought to the process and
how it will affect their office. A generic "This will
really save you time" is seldom enough to build enthusiasm.
Try these instead:
how much time do you spend checking your shelves?"
"What could I do that would make ordering easier for
how busy you are, and how valuable your time is to the practice,
what can we do that will free more of your time for patient
and then listen. In some practices you may need to create
an order guide that includes stock locations in the same order
as their shelves. In another they might like it alphanumeric
by manufacturer. Even rigid ordering guides can be presented
in a way that is personalized to that practice.
Usage reports can be another very effective tool. Meet with
the practice regularly for a business review. For practices
with multiple sites, usage reports can be used to do some
interesting comparisons. If the account provides the number
of patients seen at each site, you can divide the dollars
spent by the number of patients and determine a supply cost-per-patient
visit. Such reports can reveal discrepancies between sites,
and provide the opportunity to determine why.
of the causes might be a difference in patient demographics
(one site has older, sicker patients), a difference in the
number of in-office tests or procedures performed, using different
and more or less expensive brands of products, etc. It also
gives both the practice and you the chance to look for items
that can be standardized between sites to reduce cost and