Q: A customer of mine might sell his practice to a nearby hospital system. Should I just cut my losses and move on, or is there a chance I can keep the business?

Tim — Chicago

 

A: This is definitely the elephant in the room of distributor conversations. If a customer sells his or her practice, and the doc no longer makes the decisions on purchasing, what do you do? Having a corporate strategy/value proposition for these situations is paramount.

Now, Joe G.’s got a big mouth, but even I know when I’ve bit off more than I can chew. So let’s take this elephant on with a bite-sized strategy. Worry about what you can control. Approach this from a one-on-one perspective. First, if the purchasing is now handled by the hospital, get to know the materials manager, and give them the rundown on why you’d be a good vendor to work with for physician office purchases. Second – keep visiting the physician office. You may still get one-offs from them. Six months, 12 months, 18 months from now – who knows. These physicians aren’t used to having someone else sign their paycheck, they may not like the new setup with supplies. Although you don’t have to show up as a regular, do poke your head into their office. You’re maintaining a relationship.

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