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Test Your Consultative Selling Skills - Answering Customer Questions About the New Needle Safety Law
By Dr. Sheila Dunn

Think you've gotten the Safety Needle issue in the bag? Take the following test, and then add up your score to determine whether you're a stellar performer or in outer space on this issue.

1. Customer Question: Where can I get a copy of the new needle safety law?
Your Answer:

A. Didn't OSHA mail you one? What's wrong with our government?
B. I don't know for sure, but I'll call one of the manufacturer reps and get back to you.
C. You can look it up on the Internet at http://www.osha-slc.gov/FedReg_osha_pdf/FED20010118A.pdf
D. I knew you would be interested, so I've made copies for my best accounts. Would you like one?

2. Customer: We still have a boatload of old needles in our practice. Will OSHA fine us if they find them here?
Your Answer:
A. Nah, you'll probably never get inspected anyway!
B. I don't know for sure, but I'll call one of the manufacturer reps and get back to you.
C. You're darn tootin'! You better hurry up and get rid of them…maybe hold a blood drive or a "buy one, get one free" vaccination service!
D. It is still legal to use non-safety devices to draw up meds and other non-patient-related duties. Also, you may need them if safety product ABC is backordered. As to whether an OSHA inspector would issue a fine, they will take several factors into account, such as whether your OSHA program is up to date, whether you are in compliance in other areas, and how extensive your evaluation process has been and how long you've been at it. If you've made no attempt (or only a halfhearted attempt) to evaluate safety products, OSHA will definitely issue a citation.

3. Customer: Our doctors have decided to buy one box of safety needles and put them on the shelf in case an OSHA inspector comes by. What do you think about that?
Your Answer:
A. Good thinking! Thanks for passing on that great idea. Now I can tell all my other accounts a great way to save money!
B. I don't know for sure, but I'll call one of the manufacturer reps and get back to you.
C. Well, that makes me nervous, but you'll probably never get inspected anyway. In fact, the most common reason for OSHA to visit doctor's offices is because of an employee complaint. No one gets stuck anyhow (except the 600,000 needlesticks per year).
D. I know you're trying to save money, but that's not the way to do it. In the long run, safety needles will save money, believe it or not. If a worker gets stuck, it costs $500 to $3000 to follow up, not to mention that the employee may be so upset that he or she calls OSHA and complains, precipitating an inspection and a big fine.

4. Customer: This is ridiculous. I can't believe it. We've never had a needlestick in the last 10 years. Why do we have to do this?
Your Answer:

A. Those darn Republicans/Democrats. I'd join a militia group if I weren't in distribution sales. Hey, did you see the 60 Minutes show about this?
B. I don't know for sure, but I'll call one of the manufacturer reps and get back to you.
C. It only takes one stick to kill an employee…and, I hear it's a long, slow death!
D. OSHA regulations are made to prevent worker injuries, so even if you haven't had any needlesticks (congratulations, by the way), you still need to convert to safety needles. As there is more and more media attention about this, your workers will really appreciate that their employer cares enough about their safety to provide safety needles.

5. Customer: Can one of our employees sign a form if she doesn't want to use the safety needles that the administrators selected?
Your Answer:

A. Sure, this is a free country. No one has to do anything if they don't want. But I'm sure she'll be the first to sue you if she gets stuck.
B. I don't know for sure, but I'll call one of the manufacturer reps and get back to you.
C. OSHA requires that employers not only provide safety devices, but that employees use them.
D. OSHA does require that employees use safety devices. It's the same as latex gloves where an employee can't opt to not wear them to draw blood. But one other important issue is that the new law states that frontline employees should do evaluations. Maybe we should look for a product that she can live with.

6. Customer: Our nurses don't really like those safety needles you brought in last time. They take too long to use and are a pain in the neck. So, if a product fails our evaluation, now what do we do?
Your Answer:

A. I think you're off the hook, but I don't know. Why don't you call OSHA?
B. I don't know for sure, but I'll call one of the manufacturer reps and get back to you.
C. I'll bring in the manufacturer rep to teach you how to use them right. All of my other customers really like them.
D. Let's first look at their evaluations to see what they didn't like about them. If it was something that we can correct with another type of safety product, I'll show you some information about it. Then you can get a box of those to try. The new law requires that you keep trying products until you find something with a built-in safety feature that works for you. Our company carries several varieties of safety products, so I'm sure we can find one that your practitioners like.

7. Customer: Under what circumstances do we not need to use safety needles?
Your Answer:

A. We're backordered on that flowered table paper you ordered last week.
B. I don't know for sure, but I'll call one of the manufacturer reps and get back to you.
C. You don't need to use first-generation devices if you don't want to.
D. You don't need to use safety needles to draw up medications or for any other purpose where a patient isn't involved. You can also be exempt from using them if there are no products available commercially that function properly for a particular procedure. Finally, you are also temporarily exempt if a chosen product is backordered.

8. Customer: A salesperson visited us last week who said that we should only use "second-generation" and not "first-generation" safety needles. He made it sound like we would be breaking the law if we used first- generation products.
Your Answer:

A. Who's he with? He's probably pulling your leg.
B. I don't know for sure, but I'll call one of the manufacturer reps and get back to you.
C. We carry second-generation products that you can buy. I'll even beat his price!
D. Some of the newer devices are called second-generation because they don't require the end user to push a sheath down over the used needle, but OSHA doesn't recommend specific products. In fact, in some cases, a first-generation device might work better for a particular procedure.

9. Customer: How do we evaluate safety needles?
Your Answer:

A. Didn't OSHA send out a letter telling you how? Why don't you call your state representative?
B. I don't know for sure, but I'll call one of the manufacturer reps and get back to you.
C. Don't worry about it; just buy the least expensive ones. That's what most of my customers are doing.
D. The most important part of an evaluation is that it be performed by at least two employees who will be using safety needles in the workplace. Be sure they are taught exactly how to use them. Require that they fill out an evaluation form. There are detailed instructions as well as sample evaluation forms on the web (www.quality-america.com). You could also make up your own evaluation forms to suit your needs.

10. Customer: We've decided not to switch because our doctors can't afford it. We'll take our chances!
Your Answer:

A. I'll tell you, it's hard to get by these days! Most of my other customers are saying the same thing! The poor doctors….. With green fees going up each year, costs must be cut somewhere!
B. I'm not sure what will happen, but I'll call one of the manufacturer reps and get back to you.
C. Why not just buy one box and put it on the shelf?
D. That's your choice, but are your doctors aware of the risks of not complying? There's been a lot of publicity about health care workers contracting AIDS and hepatitis in their workplace. All it takes is one employee (or patient) complaint and OSHA will come knocking. I sure hope they change their minds!


How to Determine Your Score: Score one point for each "A" response, 2 points for each "B" response, 3 points for each "C" response, and 5 points for each "C" response.

If you scored between 10 and 20 points, you are a real people-pleaser, a pandering pontificator, and an empathetic nice guy, but you missed the boat. You have a loyal following of like-minded customers who don't buy much but would rather fight than switch to your competitors…unless, of course, they come in with a lower price!

If you scored between 21 and 40, you avoid conflict like the plague but then go home and take it out on your loved one, favorite animal, or beverage of your choice. You see the whole regulatory arena as a pain in your neck, but an opportunity nevertheless. Get that trip to Aruba!!! You would rather not get involved in learning the painful details and, when asked by customers, prefer to refer them to a manufacturer rep.

If you scored over 41, you have already been to Aruba twice, are a self-starter, very competitive, driven to perfection, attentive to details, and enjoy secretly wearing a plastic pocket protector. You also work long hours and are a real delight to your customers. You've gathered the resources to educate and convert your customers, learned how to handle their objections, and are reaping the rewards. Zig Ziglar, eat your heart out!!! Congratulations!



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