Well Put: The Year in Quotes

Edition: December 2001 - Vol 9 Number 12
Article#: 1131
Author: Repertoire

''We had a policy that nothing was a secret-.It took away a lot of grumbling.'' DeWight Titus, on one of the secrets of his former company's success.

''If I could teach [the sales rep] everything about my products, he became more confident and would talk about them to his customers.'' George Blowers, former trainer for Welch Allyn and Medical Distribution Hall of Fame inductee, who added that his real competition as a manufacturer weren't the vendors who made competing products, but all the good products that the distributor sales reps were carrying.

''It is important to recognize the materials manager's need for political capital within his own organization. Any savings or improvement that you can generate for him will present him with the opportunity to buy more credibility in his facility.'' Lynn Everard on how to turn a materials manager from a roadblock to the road.

''The distraction created by McKesson's acquisition of HBOC, which took us off our strategic course, is now behind us.'' Peter Gortz, senior vice president of marketing, McKesson Medical Surgical.

''When we brought [a Midmark table] into the clinic, you would have thought I had brought in a flying saucer.'' Clay Benjamin, McKesson sales rep, on his set up of a clinic in L'viv, the Ukraine.

''You're nobody until you learn how to propose a proper vodka toast.'' Clay Benjamin.

''Stop measuring client satisfaction and start increasing it.'' Harry Beckwith, in his most recent book, The Invisible Touch.

''No one will tell you they would like to feel more connected with you; the desire is too personal, the request too strange.'' Harry Beckwith, who adds that companies that seek to develop long-term relationships with their clients invariably come out the winners.

''Nike, the sports apparel manufacturer, has a slogan: 'Just do it.' For stress management there should also be a slogan: 'Just deal with it.''' Robert Stevenson speaking at the Fall Conference of the Healthcare Manufacturers Marketing Council.

''Hospitals-are often centerpieces for inefficiency. Yet, when hospitals and their distributors get together, what still dominates the conversation? Price. Product price to be specific.'' Lynn Everard, on the short-sightedness of focusing on price.

''I quickly grew to love my customers. But I always had to remember that I worked for a company.'' Frank Bauman, retired sales rep, on the need to balance customer relationships with company profitability.

''I really don't think they know we're here. Otherwise, someone would have offered to buy us by now.'' David Belden, executive vice president of O.E. Meyer, an independent distributor based in Sandusky, OH, on the national distributors in his area.

''While the moms and pops maintain their 'we give personal service' mantra, the customer sees the world differently: 'I will shop where it is easy and convenient and where someone is paying attention to my needs.''' John Graham, pointing out why dot-coms were running circles around traditional retailers in the consumer world.

''Winning is a habit. Unfortunately, so is losing.'' Vince Lombardi, Green Bay Packers coaching legend, as quoted in ''Second Opinion.''

''The whole structure of today's health care industry has been shaped around managed care, and if a new configuration becomes dominant, everything from hospital alliances, physician group practices and purchasing coalitions could change as a result.'' Robert Neil, describing a new model for health care, the ''defined contribution'' plan.

''It is a positively Darwinian program.'' Ted Almon, Claflin Co., describing his company's workforce retention program in which employees are selected to vie for performance-based financial rewards.

''Sales can be a very frustrating job at times, and it is all too easy to blame the customer for simply acting in a way consistent with how they are being treated.'' Lynn Everard, describing the folly of salespeople who blame their own failure on their customers' ignorance or obstinacy.

''The Internet should be a call to action, a call to create a relationship.'' Jennifer Renauld, ThreeWire, a website development firm.

''Christopher Columbus didn't know where he was going, where he was when he got there, or where he had been when he returned. But he did some neat things and accomplished good stuff along the way.'' Duke Johns, Medical Specialties, New Orleans, describing why sometimes it's better to focus not on the goals in life and business, but on the journey.

''Appearing to have authority is the next best thing to having authority. Act like you are in command and others will follow.'' John O'Malley on why it's important for sales reps to take command - or at least appear to be doing so.

[To sales managers]: ''If you require reports, graphs or summaries for the sake of communication only, my advice to you - pick up the phone!'' Anita Sirianni on the importance of limiting reports to those that have a direct impact on monitoring current and potential sales opportunities.

''This acquisition isn't about being big or fulfilling some image that the management team has strived to achieve.'' Dave Myers, vice president of sales and marketing, Seneca Medical, commenting on that company's acquisition of AmeriSource Medical Supply.

''HMOs' threats to end ties with a provider don't carry the same weight they used to in contract negotiations.'' Robert Neil, on Sutter Health's refusal to grant Blue Cross of California's contract demands for lower reimbursement rates.

''Zig Ziglar, eat your heart out!!!'' Sheila Dunn, describing the sales rep who proves himself or herself to be a valuable source of information to their customers, in this case, by bringing them up to speed on OSHA's safety needle regulations.

''A not-so-funny thing happened on the way to a compelling future.'' Lynn Everard, referring to GPOs' unsuccessful attempts to mandate that their members use e-commerce.

''It seems to me the most significant challenges facing our small companies would continue to exist even in the absence of GPOs.'' Richard Norling, chairman and CEO of Premier Inc., refuting the charge that GPOs lock small manufacturers out of the market.

''At the heart of selling today is a different concept: Nothing happens until someone wants to buy something.'' John Graham, explaining that sales reps and managers have to get accustomed to the fact that the customer - not the sales rep - is in charge.

''When you speak badly about the competition, you insult all those decisions made by the customer to work with that particular competitor.'' Dave Kahle, on how to penetrate the ''impenetrable account.''

''When you're negative with your sales reps, it's hard for them to be anything but negative with their customers.'' Andy Mills, Medline Industries, Mundelein, IL.

''It's not a question of whether you're selling table paper or dipsticks.'' Marie Biskup, vice president/general manager of Allegiance Healthcare's Scientific Products unit, commenting on the company's plan to fill all of its non-acute-care customers' product needs.

''The Federal government is the single biggest health care provider in the world, and yet no one in our industry has truly figured out how to properly serve it.'' Akhil Agrawal, American Medical Depot, Hialeah, FL, on that distributor's success in getting government supply contracts.

''It's been like a cold shower.'' Marc Westerman, administrative director of materials management for Orlando (FL) Regional Healthcare System, describing the abrupt end of the freewheeling dot-com era.

''It's not about taking the order, but fulfilling the order.'' David Guzman, chief information officer for Owens & Minor, making the point that e-procurement isn't worth much if a distributor's total logistics process is lacking.

''All the customer wants is for us to get the price right.'' Fran Dirksmeier, newly named president of McKesson HBOC's Medical Group (now McKesson Medical Surgical), commenting on the importance of pricing integrity for customer satisfaction and supplier satisfaction.

''Who is PSS?'' Sean Heyniger, PSS alumnus and co-founder of PDSHeart (Stockbridge, GA), recalling manufacturers' reactions to PSS reps calling for catalogs in the early days.

''Color outside the lines, but don't go off the page.'' Jeff Tobe, keynote speaker at Starline's annual meeting, speaking of the need to take calculated risks.

''Winners are into flawless execution.'' Jean Vincent, speaking about marketing planning for winners.

''We need to be where our customers are.'' Buffalo Hospital Supply MIS Director Jim Casselman, explaining his company's decision to participate in GHX, the manufacturer-sponsored e-procurement company.

''Knowing what I know about my product and the alternatives-would I buy from me?'' Anita Sirianni, describing the ultimate question that every sales rep has to ask himself or herself.

''The -Repertoire article was very informative and I am certain it will be quoted frequently, at least by me.'' Alan Grogan in a Letter to the Editor, laying out why he thought the April article about GPOs in the non-hospital market was full of hooey.

''It's not enough to be right.'' Michael Walker, chairman of Genesis Health Ventures, a nursing home chain, emphasizing the need of the long-term-care industry to aggressively lobby Congress and the President for aid.

''It would almost be impossible not to have a contract with Tyco these days.'' Joe Colonna, vice president of operations, Shared Services Healthcare, an Atlanta-based GPO.

''At some point or another, every hospital that is acting responsibly will need to explore how an outsourcing program could benefit them.'' Lynn Everard, discussing how and why distributors should explore offering outsourcing programs to their customers.

''Being there for people when you say you will is very important.'' Clint Bennett, Houston-based PSS sales manager.

''Think of selling as a two-way dialogue, not a one-way monologue.'' Anita Sirianni, talking about the difference between trying to push your customer into a sale and pulling him or her to the sale.

''People say they can feel the energy in the air.'' Jenise Luttgens, president of Professional Hospital Supply, Temecula, CA, commenting about the atmosphere in the company.

''I wanted to be judged simply by my efforts and the work I did.'' Betty Williams, retired sales rep and manager with the former Nashville Surgical Supply.

''One good thing about being located here is that there's no expectation of next-day delivery.'' Tom Carter, co-founder of Island Medical, Grand Cayman Island.

''If you were such a great salesperson, you'd still be selling.'' Howard Stevens, president, H.R. Chally Group, Dayton, OH, on the dangers of sales managers using themselves as examples when training their reps.

''Pricing consists of several margins, most notably, one for the manufacturer, one for the GPO and one for the distributor. I'm comfortable with ours, so draw your own conclusions.'' Ted Almon, CEO, Claflin Co.

''It is almost as if everyone in the industry is breathing a collective sigh of relief and spending their time and resources on the nuts and bolts of making money.'' Chris Pancratz, Pan Development Associates, referring to life after e-commerce and consolidation.

''Going forward, the supply chain just cannot afford for price to be the dominant issue.'' Lynn Everard, pointing out that reduction of supply chain inefficiencies is more productive than cutting product prices.

''People bring their desire not to have personal debt into the commercial world.'' Greg Einhorn, director of sales, Group Financial Services, Hilton Head, SC, on why doctors are sometimes reluctant to consider financing equipment.

''Appearing to have authority is the next best thing to actually having authority.'' John O'Malley, Strategic Visions, Birmingham, AL, on the need for negotiators to act like they are in command - even if they're not.

''If you are truly listening closely, it will be a lot easier to hear when the customer tells you what he or she wants.'' Peter A. Athens, author of A Tee Time for Selling.

''That was the hardest thing - not laughing at a good customer.'' Respondent to E-Vent about golfing with customers.

''One day I simply said to myself, ''I don't like this game, it takes too much time.'' Another respondent to the golf-related E-Vent.

''The best way to define 'personal touch' today is being good at what you do, taking a personal interest in the customer's success, and serving as a resource for the customer.'' John Graham, describing that the meaning of ''personal touch'' isn't necessarily taking your customer to a football game.

''We've always moved forward. Just not in a straight line.'' Howard Shiffmann, president, Cornell Surgical, Bergenfield, NJ.

''Reps make a mistake when they let their competitors define their product's side effects and adverse events.'' Michael Kessler, M.D., CEO, Medical Communications Center.

''If Sister Alphonsus was alive today and knew about the Bloodborne Pathogen Standard, she'd hang you by your lips until recess was over if she caught you drawing blood without gloves.'' Sheila Dunn, making the point that you can't legislate compliance to safe sharps. Rather, the rep has to keep following up to make sure that practices are protecting their workers.

''While EHCR did not succeed in changing the industry, it did for the first time attach dollars to the inefficiency that everyone already knew existed.'' Lynn Everard.

''Before you can identify [customers'] needs, you have to understand their situation.'' Linda Phillips, McKesson Extended Care sales rep and winner of the Repertoire/HIDA Excellence in Sales Award, explaining why she makes it a point to understand the big issues facing her customers, including reimbursement, billing, etc.

''When you know there's a product that will fit your customers' needs, you get energized by it.'' Pernell Williams, founder, District Healthcare, Washington, DC.

''Today's status quo leaders become tomorrow's followers.'' John O'Malley, in his book Healthcare Marketing, Sales and Service.

''In reality, 'owning the relationship' never existed. The customer always compares, as they should. However, once an overall trust is developed over time, it is more likely that the customer will lean in the direction of their proven provider.'' Respondent to an E-Vent question about ''owning the customer.''

''People buy from people, not companies.'' E-Vent respondent, speaking of the importance of personal relationships between sales reps and customers.

''Your customers will never buy if you never offer them something to buy.'' Dave Kahle, speaking of the importance of making as many sales offers as you can.

'''I'm going to have you arrested for impersonating a salesman.''' The late John Stutz, as quoted by Doug Harper of PSS. A frustrated Stutz said this to one of his sales reps who, rather than trying to sell the physician on a total setup, insisted on quoting prices for individual pieces of equipment.

''They saw the destruction. You could see in their eyes that it touched them.'' Caligor's Manny Losada, commenting about the workers at that company's Secaucus, NJ, distribution center, who had traveled to the site of the World Trade Center in New York hours after it was attacked on Sept. 11.

''It occurred to me that the medical supply industry operates below the average person's radar, but can have a huge impact on lives. I was proud of medical supply professionals and what we do, because I knew that behind the scenes on Sept. 11 and during the following days, we would do what we do best - get medical supplies to people who need them. Not glamorous or newsworthy, but so necessary.'' Respondent to E-Vent regarding Sept. 11 and the aftermath.

''Coping with adversity is what measures us, whether we are Americans enduring a disaster, or salespeople getting over the loss of a sale. The difference is that after we mourn awhile, we get back up, we set new priorities and we get to work.'' E-Vent respondent.