What Great Sales Managers Know

Hire the Right People
There is an old adage – “Hire slow but fire fast”. Consider this when selecting your candidate.  teresabioToo many managers make the mistake of hiring too quickly, or for the wrong reasons, and end up regretting it when the cycle quickly repeats itself. Use a proven interview tool which asks probing, behavior-based questions. Consider using a skills/behavior assessment tool to find the right match against a predetermined benchmark. Skills can be trained or honed, but instincts and character cannot. You either have it or you don’t. Avoid trying to put a round peg in a square hole.

Training is the Path to Success
Train thoroughly and demand active participation and commitment from your team member. Use a training tool which doubles as an accountability checklist. Revisit this tool often and carve out time during each ride along or visit to ensure that training is on track.

Coach Your Team
Coach every chance you get! Coaching moments exist everywhere. Face to face coaching is clearly the most effective and timely, but coaching can also be done over the phone and even in email. Never let a coaching opportunity pass you by.

Challenge and Grow
A sales staff is usually comprised of people at all different places in the learning curve. Keep everyone engaged at his or her own place or risk losing a newbie because he does not understand, or boring a more tenured person. Keep them focused and challenged in order to keep them growing.

Demand Excellence
Set standards and demand that they be met. People will perform to the level of expectations set. If you will accept mediocre performance, that is what you are going to get. At the same time, remember that sometimes “Good really is good enough”. Pick your battles, and keep the most important things the most important things.

Set Goals
Set targets and goals regularly. Reaching small goals usually brings big results. Set weekly performance goals. Hold monthly challenges. Inspire competition.

Celebrate and Praise
Praise publicly and celebrate with your team, both individually as well as in group. Hand-written Thank Yous and notes of congratulations or encouragement go a long way. Make time to publicly celebrate victories (top performers, challenge winners, exceptional sales calls, etc.) Small tokens such as ribbons or medals may seem silly, but most sales people will treasure them. Keep in mind that salespeople are often motivated by recognition. Don’t underestimate a “High Five” in the parking lot after a successful sales call! The opposite side to this coin, discipline or course correction, should be handled privately in a swift manner with an eye on improvement. Get the salesperson’s buy- in by giving them input. Course correction should be handled firmly, but kindly. Remember that in most cases, discipline or course correction is about a behavior and not about the person.

Know your Team
Ask your team members what motivates them. You may be surprised. Take the time to develop teamwork when possible by encouraging your staff to get to know each other as well. Remember special occasions such as birthdays. People like to feel important.

Be Present
Be truly present when you are with a salesperson. Try not to allow distractions and minimize phone calls and other work. Understand that this may be a routine day for you, but guaranteed, your salesperson probably does not feel that way. Whether they welcome your visit or ride-along or not, your presence is important. Make the most of your time, whether it is on a sales call or another coaching moment. Encourage your team to keep an ongoing list or folder with current questions or support needs.

Be Accessible and Approachable
Admit that you are not perfect and that if you are any good, you are still learning too. Don’t be afraid to make a mistake. Encourage your team to take risks and step outside of their comfort zones by modeling. And, keep in mind that there is no I in Team. Make sure your team knows that you are on their side and that you are in it together.

Six Secrets To Improving Your Bottom Line

Why Hospital Partnerships?

What is the ACA?

The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) commonly called the
hospitalAffordable Care Act (ACA) is a United States federal statute signed into law by President Barack Obama on March 23, 2010.

The ACA was enacted with the goals of increasing the quality and affordability of health insurance, lowering the uninsured rate by expanding public and private insurance coverage, and reducing the costs of healthcare for individuals and the government. It introduced a number of mechanisms – including mandates, subsidies, and insurance exchanges – meant to increase coverage and affordability. The law also requires insurance companies to cover all applicants within new minimum standards and offer the same rates regardless of pre-existing conditions or sex. Additional reforms aimed to reduce costs and improve healthcare outcomes by shifting the system towards quality over quantity through increased competition, regulation, and incentives to streamline the delivery of healthcare.

What is an ACO?

An Accountable Care Organization is comprised of a group of healthcare providers who work collaboratively to deliver coordinated care and chronic disease management, improving the quality of care patients receive.

A participating organization`s payment is tied to achieving healthcare quality goals and outcomes that result in cost savings. Medicare ACOs were formed by the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2010 (PPACA), with Medicaid and commercial accountable care organizations following suit.

Why should this matter to those in healthcare?

Our healthcare world has always been one of constant flux. However, these two changes will transform how we do business, how we provide services, how we bill and are paid and more importantly … how we sell and market. Gone are the days of muffin marketing and social events. The need to develop long-standing trusting relationships with key accounts is now not only important … it is critical.

Creating an environment conducive to building a strong ACO requires several structures to be in place.

  • Senior Leadership committed to the importance of their support and involvement
  • Product Excellence that meets the ever-changing needs of the hospitals and physicians
  • Skilled, knowledgeable sales people dedicated to building long-standing trusted relationships

donheadWhile these may seem simple, they are far from easy to accomplish. Ledgerock Consultant Dan Wood has the experience behind him to assist with the planning, strategy and execution of a plan for your company.

Contact him or any Ledgerock Consultant today for more information on developing your ACO relationships.

The Art of Networking

The Art of Networking

A Small Investment for a Big Return

NETWORKING: The definition used most often is the exchange of information or services among individuals, groups or institutions. More specifically, it is the cultivation of PRODUCTIVE relationships for business or employment.

Networking has been an essential tool for survival since the beginning of time. We, humansall thrive on interaction with one another. Listed below are five key reasons that such a practice can only bring positive and successful results.

jodybioOPPORTUNITIES: Every time you leave the house, you have a chance to meet interesting people. You never know who you will meet, and where. I recently accompanied my daughter to a physician visit for a torn ACL (knee injury). While waiting to see the doctor, I engaged the nurse in a conversation and told her I was a manager of a Day Spa. She said she was looking for a good massage therapist. I pulled out my cell phone and booked her an appointment on the spot! Opportunities are everywhere, no mater the industry. It may be hospitals, community groups or as simple as your own contacts.

EXPOSURE: The more people that know what you do, the better. You must also take into account that your customer, fan base, etc. can and will communicate to others outside your circle, thus giving you more and more exposure. The numbers of people who know about you will grow and grow! I was recently at a new neighbor’s house for a get-together. In the process of getting to know one another, I told everyone I was a manager of a Day Spa. The hostess said she had been looking for a new stylist since moving here. She came in a week later, and loved her hair. Two weeks after that, she sent her father in to purchase a $250.00 gift certificate for her mother! Soon after that, her sister-in-law came into the salon! This is not the time to be shy; tell everyone you meet what you do and why it would benefit them.

CONTACTS AND RELATIONSHIPS: People like to do business with people they like. Often, that is all that separates you from your competitor. Over the past ten years, I have been involved with many professional networking groups. At holiday time, a member of one of these groups told me she would like to purchase several gift certificates for her staff. Although she had never been to our salon, she said she always enjoyed talking to me at meetings, and said she had a good “vibe” about me. She explained that she had spoken with several other members of the group who were clients, and they sang our praises! We successfully integrated exposure, relationships and excellent word-of-mouth.

COMMON GROUND: It is a proven fact, that we all enjoy the company of those who are like-minded. Common interests make it easier for people to come together. One of your most important objectives when making new contacts is to determine those areas which you have in common. The most successful way of doing that is by focusing on them and their interests. Ask questions that help your new acquaintances to open up and talk about themselves.

Hospital Liaison Secrets To Success

Four Primary Goals to Managing Hospital Key Accounts

1. Own Your Hospital

Your primary task right out of the gate is to establish yourself as the primary sales/clinical contact with all the keyericbioaccounts in a given hospital. Your goal is to be the face of your facility/company within that account. This may sound simple but it takes focus and planning.

Here are a few suggestions to get started:

  • Be visible on every floor, at every nurse`s station; let them get to know you as the face of your company.
  • Be available and responsive. They need to view you as the easiest person to find quickly.
  • Be helpful; to the hospital staff and physicians this means one thing – Get it done and with the least amount of confusion.
  • Be a problem-solver by always taking ownership and never placing the blame on your company, your center or others.

It is important that primary account responsibility be assigned to the nurse liaison. They act as the coordinator of all clinical and sales contact activity within that account.

2. Integrate Horizontally and Vertically

Separate yourself from your competition by expanding the number of contacts you have within each key hospital account. Move beyond the routine “discharge planner” rounding and move to a higher level appointment selling to both key departments and physician selling. Once you have accomplished (owning your hospital), it is easy to slide into a comfort zone of a day to day routine with those who know and like us. The most successful liaisons take this step to heart and move easily up and down throughout their hospital. Here are a few recommendations:

  • Set aside a designated amount of time for this step each day. Begin with 30 minutes and work your way up to an hour. If you do not plan the time, it most likely will not happen.
  • Create a customer list of all the potential customers within the hospital. That means everyone; movers and shakers, department heads, managers, physicians, staff nurses; even the receptionists. Prioritize them by importance.
  • Find them and make an initial contact; use your IMPACT Selling skills and begin to build relationships.

3. Become the Community Resource

Work hard at learning your product, your competition and your community. By providing your key hospitals with an expert knowledge of all facility products, payer sources, clinical expertise, and community resources, you become indispensible. By being the expert, you move yourself to a first call status when your community hospitals are looking to discharge all levels of patients, placing you in a position of increased value as the community resource to your hospitals.

4. Be the “Great Communicator”

Provide hospital oversight to ensure the flow of patient, admission and clinical information between hospital and facility, anticipating problems and intervening as necessary. Being the eyes and ears in the hospital provides you both a selling opportunity and an opportunity to anticipate challenges, both upon discharge from the hospital and admission to the facility. Effective oversight and coordination with the facility and delegation of challenges to the facility team, allows you to bring value, and maintain focus on your hospital sales opportunities. Here are a few suggestions from successful liaisons:

  • Develop strong relationships with the Director of Nursing, Administrator and Admission staff at your center. Learn what they need from you to feel comfortable with an admission coming to them.
  • Be pro-active. Never let a small concern lie; it will become an enormous problem rapidly. Try to uncover the situation quickly; do your best to solve it and take responsibility if you can not.
  • Be accurate and comprehensive. The trust you will build on both sides by being absolutely above board can not be under-estimated.

The role of the liaison is one of the most critical positions in healthcare today. It should be understood by the people in the role, the center management team and the managers of such positions. It is truly a sales position with one goal; generate revenue. However, its` success is accomplished through networking, marketing, salesmanship, communication and knowledge.

Is Your Marketing Collateral Working For You or Against You?
10 Ways to Tell

corrie2Brochures, websites, presentation folders, and white papers. Business cards, print and e-newsletters, trade show displays, and blog posts. Sales “scripts,” data sheets, and multimedia presentations. All of these materials, both print and digital, are marketing collateral-“sales aids” that position your company well (or poorly!) in the minds of your prospective customers.

Effective, professionally developed marketing collateral will help drive your business. But how do you know if your materials are working for you…or against you?

First, study your marketing materials as an entire group. Ask these questions:

1. Is there visual consistency among all of your collateral materials? Every item in your collateral library should feature your corporate identity and brand. Key company messages, photos, selling points, and so on should be consistent across the board, making each marketing piece easily identifiable as yours.

2. Is the quality of the finished material high, with no exceptions? A poorly proofread website makes you look unprofessional and careless. A well-produced presentation folder stuffed with fuzzy Xerox copies mixes messages about your firm`s attention to detail, commitment to quality, and budget.

3. Are the images presented the “right” images for your ideal prospects? We recently worked with a healthcare firm whose patients in different metro areas were dramatically different demographically: In one city, it was best to choose images for brochures featuring working-class African-American and Asian people, while in another, it was important to present Caucasians who appeared affluent.

4. Are the details of your collateral materials accurate and up-to-date? You might be surprised how often materials have to be re-printed because no one noticed that a phone number or email address was incorrect!

5. Do print materials reference electronic materials? Printed brochures and newsletters should refer to websites and social media pages. Printed materials are still important components of your overall marketing effort, but potential customers need to be aware that you have an online presence, as well (and you should have an online presence, if you don`t already).

Next, choose the brochure, site, article, or other material that you think is the best one you have. Answer these questions:

6. Does this piece of collateral have a specific purpose? Don`t confuse your audience by overcomplicating your sales aids! Each piece of collateral should have a purpose: a fundamental reason for existing. (One recent client insisted on a 12-page “Company Overview” booklet: serious overkill!)

7. Can your prospective clients and customers tell what you do? This may sound like a funny question, but it`s often hard to tell! Covers, headlines, callouts, and other key elements of your marketing materials should clearly explain WHAT your company does, HOW you do it, and ideally, WHY you do it: Companies that have a clear mission and purpose get better results in the short and long term.

8. Can your prospects determine why they should consider your firm over others? It is incredibly useful to look at your competitors` marketing collateral. As it`s often said: “You don`t have to be the first to offer a benefit, but if you`re the first to tell people about it, you own that benefit!” (And remember, presenting your company as “lowest price” devalues your services: Look for other ways to differentiate yourself.)

9. Is each piece of collateral targeted toward a particular customer? One of the single biggest mistakes marketers and salespeople make is attempting to be everything to everyone! Every piece of collateral should be aimed toward a particular type of client. Picture one of your best customers-seriously, picture Sally Smith from XYZ company, or John Jones from ABC-when you create collateral. This will help you target your message to other buyers like Sally and John.

10. Are you promising or guaranteeing things your company really can (and will) deliver? If you have a 70% satisfaction rating on your response time from customers, don`t promise them “immediate, effective response.”

By asking the 10 questions above, you`ll be able to determine if your marketing materials are working for you or against you. Developing powerful marketing collateral that represents your company accurately and positively will drive your revenue.

P.S. But wait, there`s more: proofread, proofread, proofread! Don`t just proof for misspellings. Check for accuracy of information (see #4 above), consistency, and meaning. Don`t forget that your and you`re are different words; as are it`s and its; there, their, and they`re. Small mistakes can give a big, bad impression.

“Customer Service Starts at the Top”

Nearly all managers will agree with the expression “customer service starts at the top.” They understand that culture change takes leadership and that front line employees learn from example. It is not what you direct and order people to do, but it is how you inspire and show the way by your actions. But how do you as a manager put that into practice?

rondownloadHere are six concrete actions that you can do as a manager to show that customer service starts at the top.

1. Observe the first impressions as you approach and enter the facility. Make rounds in the facility. Observe the staff. Do they greet you, greet other guests in the facility, and interact with residents? Share your observations with managers. Review the standards for customer service and for hospitality. Remind them about the importance of the standards being posted and visible.

2. Ask for names of families and residents with customer service issues. Refer to the grievance log or generate a list of customers at a meeting with department heads. Discuss with the management team the service issues with these customers. Observe the attitude and language used by the management team. A positive indicator: the team is focused on future solutions and satisfaction? They exhibit a can-do attitude. A negative indicator: the team is focused on the past and offer excuses. They have an attitude about the customer and use negative labels. They say “Nothing will work”? This is an opportunity to coach the team on how to respond.

3. Meet with some of these customers. This is your chance to get the customer perspective. Thank the customer for sharing the concern, express empathy, listen, and explain what you will do. Retain the list in your notes. On your next visit to the facility, review and update the list. Meet with or call any customer that you sensed continued dissatisfaction.

4. Talk with front line staff. Are they aware of the standards? How often are they discussed? Consider conducting a couple of small focus groups or listening sessions. Gather 6-8 employees around a table ask them to rate their satisfaction on a 1-10 scale. Ask them to rate how well everyone works as a team on a 1-10 scale. For any rating less than a 9-10, ask for suggestions on how to improve.

5. Review the last customer satisfaction report. Meet with department managers and ask if they are aware of the report. Are they aware of at least the overall satisfaction score, benchmark, and goal? What is the plan to address issues in the report? Is the plan reasonable and realistic? If not, offer suggestions.

6. Finally, ask managers who are some of the customer service champions in that building. Write a short thank you note to them and personally deliver and thank those people.

Your leadership by doing 1-2 of these tasks on each visit will show that customer service truly starts at the top.

“Where is the Person I Hired?”

We have all been here. The bright smiling man with years of industry experience suddenly turns into an underperforming whiner. The smart, easy going woman with passion and energy disintegrates into the difficult, non-compliant person who challenges your every direction. The frustration can be overwhelming.

Before you begin to hire, there are three key points to consider.

  1. Understand the role. Gather a circle of people who truly grasp the role; those who currently hold it, manage it or reap the benefits of its success. Ask them, “If the position could talk what would it say?” What attributes are required for success? What will lead to failure? What is the true purpose of this position? You will be surprised at the divergence of opinions.
  2. Acknowledge your real expectations of the position. Given your culture and structure, what is realistic? Given the market and industry, what will you expect and how soon? Will this person need to be aggressive, assertive, a team-player or a rainmaker? To succeed, what will motivate them; bonus or security; structure or freedom? One person cannot possess all attributes. Who are you looking for?
  3. Slow down; recognize the cost of a poor hire. This is not the time to hurry up and hire somebody! Consider the cost of failure; it is estimated to be 10-14 times their salary. There is also the soft cost of bad hires. You may gain a reputation for hiring and firing; a difficult culture and not worth the cost to apply.

Only now are you ready to begin hiring. Follow the three step process:

  1. Use a tried and true profiling assessment. Any professional profile that has excellent record of success will work. Though it should be only 1/3 of the hiring decision. It will provide a basis for a second and third interview. For instance, if you are searching for a rainmaker and the profile indicates a low sense of urgency and competitiveness, the interview questions should focus on specific past successes and how they were accomplished.
  2. Consider the resume and references as propaganda. Applicants are skilled in interviewing and often have professional help with resumes. References are usually people who have been asked to provide positive feedback or are so carefully worded that they are of little use in identifying future success
  3. Interview often and expertly. This leaves you, the hiring manager with the task of peeling back the onion. My recommendation is to interview each candidate at least twice, include others in the process and become an expert at interviewing. Once you identify from the resume and profile, any areas of concern, you can focus your questions to determine if these areas are a deal breaker. Will this candidate feel valued in this position? Does he or she possess the attributes necessary for success? Does your company culture match the value system of the candidate? How much time will they need to get up to speed? What resources will I need to dedicate to their success?

Our day-to-day work lives are hectic, exciting and chaotic. Often, we must choose between two very important tasks. It is easy to delegate this, slide through the steps or just “fill the position.”

Hiring the right person with the right values, passions and attributes that match those required to succeed in your position is too critical to be even a little careless.


Would You Like to Tour?

These are perhaps the five worst words a potential family member should hear.Yet, not only is it promoted throughout healthcare; it is often followed by punishment for those who do not ask callers to tour. For years, in my sales training, I have recommended that the admissions teams eliminate the word “tour” from their vocabulary. Hospital Liaisons and Business Development reps should avoid it at all cost.

To understand the two most compelling reasons why, let’s walk in the shoes of a family member or a potential rehab patient.

Barbara has been told that her father is not doing well and the plans for him to return home have been dashed. She is devastated and now must deal with her Mother, as well. She begins to call the list of centers provided by the hospital social worker. She never dreamed she would have to “tour” a nursing home this morning.

Next, Frank is 74 and planning hip replacement surgery. Not only does he not want to “tour” a rehab center; he doesn’t want to go there at all.

In both cases, being asked to tour your center will result in either a direct “No”, a begrudged visit or a no-show. Why? Think about how you would feel if there was no compelling reason for you to do something you really dreaded.

So, then, how do we get a potential client into our buildings?

First, it is not about the tour. It is about how visiting your center will help Barbara feel better about her dilemma and how meeting the team in your center will help Frank to understand that he will recover more quickly.

Second, it is all about not selling. The initial call is not a time to sell, not you, your staff or your center. It is about careful questioning, expert listening and well-placed recommendations.

Lastly, it might sound something like this:

“Mrs. Chandler, thank you for sharing the challenges you’re facing. I understand this is a difficult time. You told me that your Mother is fearful that your Father will not return home and that you are also concerned about his non-compliance; is that right?”

“Yes, this is all so unexpected.”

“I understand. Mrs. Chandler, May I recommend that you stop in and meet our Director of Therapy? Our therapy team is second to none; together they have almost 25 years of experience. If you have some time tomorrow or Wednesday, we could also meet with our Director of Nursing; she can explain some of the methods that have worked to motivate our guests. How does that sound?”

The person handling the inquiry call must first listen for the caller’s greatest needs, show concern and empathy. Only then can one provide the real benefit of a visit to your center. It is always the reason they will want to “tour”. Mrs. Chandler will come in to meet the people who might get her father home and Frank (who doesn’t want to tour) may agree to stop by to meet the Director and ask those personal questions that are bothering him.

In closing, that inquiry call is a result of all your marketing, sales, events and collateral; it should be treated like gold. Don’t talk, just listen. Don’t sound rushed; slow down. Don’t ask them to tour; tell them why a visit will benefit them


Why Healthcare Sales IS Different!

Let’s see; we’ve all heard that a good salesman can sell ice to an Eskimo or heard,” She is quite a talker; she should be in sales”. Neither by the way is true. A good salesman would know that an Eskimo doesn’t need or want ice and a great sales person is much better at listening than talking.

However, I digress!

As much as we may want sales to be the same whether you are selling Pepsi, BMW’s or a nursing home bed; it is not! They are each tangible products; they are wanted or needed by the consumer and for many companies they enjoy a solid reputation for delivering what the consumer needs. They even have about the same selling cycle length.

Mrs. Smith walks into a store and wants a soft drink; she will choose among many. Most likely she may narrow it down to Coke or Pepsi. Mr. Smith walks into a dealership and wants to buy a car; he will choose among many. Most likely, he may narrow it down to a BMW or a Lexus. Mr. & Mrs. Smith walk into a hospital where they will be asked to decide on a next location for Mom. They will choose among many. Most likely, they will narrow it down to the top two suggestions.

So, then why is the sale different?It has to do with culture, corporate culture. Pepsi and BMW are sales-driven cultures while healthcare is operations driven. Neither is good or bad, just different. They take the company in different directions and that impact is felt most directly in the sales organization of both cultures.

The sales-driven company begins with the end in mind; the end being profit, margins and revenue growth. The budgeting process sets clear expectations for growth; sales hiring is meticulously rigorous; accountability is excruciating at all levels. Compensation programs are often an open-ended opportunity for sales people to produce. Operations meetings begin with market analysis, product trends and sales projections. The key person at the table is the CMO and the COO.

The operations-driven company also begins with the end in mind; the end being delivering a quality product. The budgeting process is often a laborious process to determine how to deliver the product and still make a profit; sales hiring practices are a de-centralized function concerned more with team matches and customer service attributes than with producing revenue. Compensation programs are viewed as expected but unnecessary. Operations meetings begin with a cost and budget analysis by department in painful but necessary detail. The market /sales discussion may be moved, delayed or hurried at the end of the meeting. . The key person at the table is the COO with no CMO.

Healthcare is an operations-driven organization. This difference in healthcare’s focus reverberates throughout the company. It shines a laser-light on clinical issues, human resource issues, turn-over and regulations. It is not that sales expectations are unimportant; they are simply far down on the list. There is often a tendency to believe that we would exist happily without a sales focus; a sort-of “build it and they will come” attitude. Heaven help the Pepsi, GM or BMW CEO who tries to compete with this mindset