This is the last of four goals that I feel are necessary components of a well-rounded successful department. They focus on customers, employees, the biomedical community, and vendors. This week’s blog discusses the final goal; the importance of having good relations with your vendors.
Never underestimate the importance of your vendors. If you make them a part of your team, they can become one of your best assets. Good vendor salespeople will keep you apprized of new technological developments and product improvements and they can intervene to help you get critical parts in a timely manner. They can introduce you to the key people back at the home office who can make things happen for you. This is important because there are times when you might only be as good as the support they give you. Your efforts to keep them involved and make them feel that they are a part of your program can pay big dividends to you and the success of your department.
One of the major complaints of biomedical departments is that salespeople tend to ignore or avoid them. This can be especially true if salespeople see your department as an impediment to their efforts. If they see you as a person who gets in their way, they will do anything to avoid you when they are introducing new equipment to your hospital. Sometimes their negative view of you may not be your fault. They may have had difficult experiences with biomedical departments in other hospitals that can affect their attitude toward you. In addition, you should remember that salespeople encounter one another at trade shows, in hotels and other venues where they might swap stories about their experiences at different hospitals. If one of them has had a bad experience with you, they will spread the word and cause others to avoid you. If you want them to stop ignoring you, it is important that you make every effort to change the way you are perceived.
You can start creating that positive perception by making certain that you and everyone else in your department treats salespeople with respect – even if you do not like them or their products. Do not view them as your enemies. The next time they are in your hospital, invite them to show you their product line and discuss any new products their company may be developing. Instead of outlining a list of your rules that they may see as an impediment to their efforts, tell them about some of the services you can provide. For example, rather than make salespeople bring demo and evaluation equipment to you for testing, tell them you will be happy to meet them and do the testing at the department where the demonstration is taking place. While you are there, you can also ask to sit in on the demonstration. This not only provides an added convenience for the salesperson, but it helps them realize that you are there to help expedite the process and they will be more likely to contact you in the future. It also gives you the added opportunity to learn more about the equipment from the user’s perspective. If the demo equipment is bulky, you can offer to have it shipped to your department where you will unpack it and deliver it to the user department in time for the demonstration.
Always think creatively and try to find new ways to assist salespeople. Plan to give a vendor of the year award to companies that provide your hospital with excellent products and services. Be sure to send the award to the company CEO and include a carefully written cover letter naming the local salesperson and others who are responsible for providing excellent support. Never forget that salespeople have an important role to play. They are a vital component in the link between device manufacturers and the people in your hospital who make decisions on which equipment to purchase. When they realize that you are making an effort to be an asset and not an impediment to their efforts, they will not only work with you, but will see you as a key person in the process and instead of avoiding you, they will take time call whenever they come to your hospital.
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