eNews Oct 12, 2021

The latest news affecting you and your customers… from the Independent Medical Specialty Dealers Association

Strive to be of value

People duck when they see a hard pitch coming their way

Intuition? Indispensable. But without a consistent process focused on value, sales may suffer. Speaking at this fall’s IMDA/HIRA Annual Conference in Chicago, “ROI: It’s More Than Just Money,” Dawson Cochran, managing partner of global sales training firm ValueSelling Associates, suggested owners of medical specialty dealers and rep firms introduce their reps to a three-step process for sales:

  1. Research.
  2. Questioning.
  3. ROI.


By failing to conduct proper research before a call, reps have only themselves – that is, their opinions, products and perspectives — to offer their customers. They can pitch hard, but, as in baseball, people tend to duck when they see a strong pitch coming toward their head, Cochran said.

Reps should routinely take time to search the Internet for clues as to what the customer’s goals are and how they are performing against them. Public data can shed light on issues they are facing, such as rising infection rates or patient falls, or shrinking operating margins. “If research shows your customer has a problem that you can help them solve, address it,” she said. If the customer is reluctant to bring it up during the call, probing questions on the rep’s part can help.

And if the customer doesn’t have a problem that the rep can help them solve, find another prospect to whom you can bring value, she advised. To drive home the point, she quoted Albert Einstein, who said, “Strive not to be a success, but rather, to be of value.”

Cochran offered a training tip to sales managers: At the next sales meeting, give your reps 20 minutes to conduct Internet research on one of their customers. Instruct them to identify the biggest problem they can help that customer solve, and how they would address it with the customer.


What salesperson hasn’t been told to listen to the customer before making a pitch? It’s true, the best way to get customers talking is by asking questions – but don’t start with, “What keeps you up at night?” advised Cochran. “It shows you haven’t done your research.”

Begin with an open question, based on your research and understanding of the customer’s goals, then use probing questions to learn about difficulties they face in achieving those goals. After the customer shares their thoughts, repeat what you believe you heard them say. If you got it right, great! “But if you got it wrong, they’ll probably appreciate that you want to get it right,” she said.

Above all, reps should speak with their own voice. “Authenticity is important. The more real you are, the more your customers can trust you.”


When you talk ROI with your customer, you’re talking about value, said Cochran. It’s not just about price (i.e., money spent), but also about the potential impact of your products and services on revenues – i.e., money coming in. Can your product or service help the customer recruit medical talent or succeed in a value-based purchasing program? Can it help them address financial or quality problems they may be facing?

Just as important, can your product or service help your contact achieve a personal goal of theirs? If so, you’ve probably gained a champion in the organization.