The New Product Dance

Edition: August 2001 - Vol 9 Number 08
Article#: 1034
Author: Mark Thill

Exciting new products seem to put a spring in everybody's step. True, buyers might not be springing quite as high as sellers, but sooner or later, even they seem to catch the excitement in the air.

At least that's what respondents to this month's E-Vent said.

Readers of the Dail-E News (MDSI's daily e-mail newsletter) were asked whether or not they and their customers are jazzed about new products.

Granted, some came across a bit jaded (''Hmmph, everybody's too cheap to look at new products''), and others a bit cynical (''New products mean more commissions''), but most came across like excited kids.

Most responses were heartening, fun to read, and thought provoking. Here are excerpts from several of them.

Manufacturers' Responses

Are YOU jazzed about new products on the market?

Selling new products creates a change in the day to day routine and gives me something different to look forward to.

YES! A new product allows the salesperson to tilt the discussion away from strict price comparison. It is a great opportunity for a salesperson to make themselves a valuable asset to the customer.

Yes, because they represent where our markets can go, can provide better outcomes, and give folks a chance to sell something new and exciting.

I get excited about new products and really enjoy showing the features and benefits to a potential new customer, but unfortunately it seems that most of the people that I speak with are focused on two things -- price and contractual obligations (GPOs).

Yes. We have come out with some products that are providing excellent results on patients, and the clinicians are clearly excited. This has given our company a renewed opportunity for greater involvement at a higher level in the clinical community.

Yes….New products give you an easy way in to see current and new customers.

It has been most difficult to gain support internally for developmental projects since they will not sell without a contract. Unless you have one of the ''Big 3'' -- Novation, Premier, HCA, the volume doesn't justify this.

Are your CUSTOMERS jazzed about new products on the market?

Customers are 50/50 in that many times they are excited about the products, but either can't afford them or don't know how to get funding… They feel that anything new will increase cost and put them at risk.

Customers like to be informed of new products, but they approach them with some level of skepticism. They get inundated with ''new'' products and information all the time, which can take away from the novelty of something truly unique.

YES! My customers always ask, ''What's new''? They are especially hyped if we run a promotion along with the introduction.

Our customers get jazzed when they are introduced to innovative products that enable better care for their patients and more convenience for them in the process, and even more jazzed when the product is a good economic value as well.

NO! Because the customers do not want to make any changes. They have no time to listen and if the product brings additional cost to the procedure, they are not interested.

My customers are jazzed about new products because they like to be the first ones to use something new and different.

Distributors' Responses

Are YOU jazzed about new products on the market?

New items in the extended care market are always wonderful. You take a somewhat depressing market and come out with a new color, flavor or size of an item, and I'm excited to hope that this new product will brighten up a resident's day.

New products open doors…. The physician does not want to miss anything that is new. This becomes a way to see the physician and sell him something, even if it is not the new item.

Yes, I like being the one who brings in a new product or information to my customer. It's one way I am able to display my value to that customer.

If it weren't for change, then there would be no need for me.

There are not many new innovative products. Most are takeoffs on old stand-bys.

There are very few new products coming to the market that a distributor can invest selling time in. We continue to provide logistics for new products, but the opportunity to sell new products that are primarily niche, low-volume products are not available or not profitable enough.

No, as a distributor there are so many products to get to know that you can't concentrate or get too excited about any one product.

Are your CUSTOMERS jazzed about new products on the market?

Certain people are into new products and technologies, while others are content to plod along and do business the same way day in and day out, year in and year out.

Some customers enjoy talking about ''what's new.'' There is nearly always something in the conversation (perhaps not the initial new product) that creates the spark.

I hope that I have made them enthusiastic about the new products that have become available – even if they elect not to buy anything.

Depends on the customer. Many [are excited about new products], but change is a difficult thing, even when it is for the better.

Nope. Just want something to get the job done that's cheap.

Manufacturers Reps' Responses

Are YOU jazzed about new products on the market?

Of course it's always more exciting to have something new to bring to the customer. It's a reason to see them and a chance to sell more product. The problem is that the customers don't always have the same enthusiasm. They are sometimes tired of the ''latest and greatest'' story. To change products or suppliers sometimes represents a hassle.

No…. New products seem more like cleaned-up versions of old products.

Are your CUSTOMERS jazzed about new products on the market?

Yes. An opportunity to gain incremental sales and GP, and possibly introduce you to different sell/call points within the facility.

Customers' Responses

Are you jazzed about new products on the market?

I am most excited about new technology that improves patient care/outcomes. Some of the most exciting are the advances in cardiology and cardiovascular surgery.

I work in Materials Management, therefore my customers are the clinical staff within the hospital. I believe that sales reps tend to make extraordinary claims and ''haunt'' the staff for approvals. At first, this may be perceived as excitement on the part of the clinical staff, but after further review, it may just as well have been a strategy to get the sales rep off one's back.

New products are great as long as they benefit our patients and/or the care our clinicians can offer. Key discussion points and marketing tactics suppliers should be cognizant of, however, is…making certain this ''latest advancement'' is reimbursable.

No. The customers are looking for products that would save considerable time or money. Most things are just ''me too''.(GPO)