The More They Know
Help your veterinary practice customers make informed buying decisions when it comes to equipment.
Veterinary equipment is a rapidly expanding field. With veterinary medicine benefitting from the technology that is being used in human medicine, the array of devices has expanded greatly over the last 15 years. Digital X-ray machines, ultrasounds, MRI machines, CT scans, blood work testing, centrifuges, autoclaves, surgery tables, surgery lights, dental scalers, weight scales, and the list goes on.
The good news is we don’t have to be experts on all of these pieces of equipment. Our role is to be a knowledgeable partner for our customers, one that can provide the information and resources needed to make an informed buying decision.
Who are the customers that are looking to add an additional capability to their service offering? Who are the more progressive practices that may have an interest in handling referrals based on their equipment and capabilities? What procedures do your customers perform that might utilize some of these pieces of equipment? Are there products and/or procedures that the practice dispenses or administers that might serve as indicators for these questions?
Some companies have individuals who are deemed equipment specialists. Other companies rely on the equipment company reps to be the experts. Equipment specialists and equipment company sales reps rely on folks like you to provide them the details that they need in order to service your customers to the best of their ability.
Keeping your customers informed of new developments in technology as it becomes available to the veterinary market is a challenge. Sales reps must remain diligent in their pursuit of the leading industry trends, and the corresponding equipment that may be used to provide the latest in veterinary medicine. While the majority of veterinary practices are not going to purchase expensive specialty medical equipment that will only be used a few times per year, discussions of upgrading from old technology to newer technology could be relevant for these practices.
How would an upgrade bring value to the practice and value to the clients? How can you assist customers in choosing machines that will enhance the professionalism, their in-house capabilities, and the quality of the vet-patient relationship?
As equipment is used more and more in the daily routine, it is also generating more income for the practice. What might seem to be a substantial investment could actually pay for itself in a short period of time.
Veterinary practices as a group have a couple of widely agreed-upon fundamentals in their businesses. The first is to provide the best medicine and treatment that they possibly can. The second is to present themselves and their practice in the most professional manner possible. Upgrading equipment can help to fulfill both of these requirements for any practice. The sales rep’s job is to know each customer and assist them in understanding how an equipment purchase can help them achieve their goals.
A Time to Re-invest
Many capital equipment purchases take place at the end of the calendar year in veterinary medicine. This is the time for the practice to take some of their earnings and re-invest them in the practice. Many times this happens in the form of updating, replacing, or adding new equipment. The fact that this happens at the end of the calendar year narrows the time frame for true sales efforts, yet this also gives sales reps ample time to do their homework. Conversations about equipment are not difficult to have if you keep the needs of the customer at the center of the conversation. Most practices have equipment that they wish that they could replace. Many others have wish lists of the latest equipment that they have seen at a conference or a trade show. The traditional struggle for the practice is to try and justify the expense prior to making the purchase.
Reps can assist the practice with the equipment purchase decision-making process. When reps sell customers X-ray film, they can ask simple questions that get them talking about themselves and their practice:
- How many X-rays do they do in
- What does that equate to in a year?
- Have they switched to digital radiography yet?
This sort of relaxed line of questioning does not constitute selling the client anything. You’re gathering more useful facts about your customers. You can be the true partner that’s concerned about their ability to best serve their clients.
One of the last things that seems to be very difficult for many veterinary practices is conveying their capabilities and the profound effects that those capabilities can have on the diagnosis and treatment of their patients. Many practices have extremely compassionate people that want to serve their clients to the best of their ability, but they don’t want to oversell their clients. Sound familiar?
How can you help your customers educate their clients on the capabilities that they have as a result of owning a particular piece of equipment? Patient care is a top priority, but many times your customers are more focused on what they think their client may be able to afford rather than what could provide the best results. This is a difficult area for a rep to cover with a customer. The best possible conversation can be constructed of examples taken from other customers that you interact with.
The veterinary community is tight-knit, with a very high level of mutual respect among peers. Using yourself as a conduit for information and examples from one veterinarian to another can not only assist you in detailing a particular product or piece of equipment, but it can also position you as a person who understands the goals and achievements of many veterinarians.
This gives you an added value to the customers that you regularly serve. They will start to use you as a reference for many things if they know that you have knowledge and understanding of what is happening in other practices. Use your tools and information wisely, and always position yourself as your customer’s partner rather than the salesperson; you will be far more successful in
the long run.
About the author: Todd Brodersen, President of Same Page Consulting Inc.
Photo credit: istockphoto.com/BernardaSv