Moving the HME Industry Forward

Manufacturer/Provider

Market Research – Questions to Ask

July 31, 2017

GOOSE CREEK, SC – To maximize your caretailing business, you need to look outside your showroom and scout for referral sources and specialty distribution customers. There are opportunities everywhere if you know where to look. That is why you should consider hiring an outside sales force.

With regard to specialty distribution, the first question that always comes up is: “Can I compete with the big distributors?” The answer is a resounding “No.” You cannot compete with them head to head, but you can cherry-pick and increase your sales volume. Even if you don’t write orders for big dollars, you can gain business that will have a huge impact on your company.

HME caretailers must build an outside sales force to succeed. Times have changed and it is time to take a fresh approach and seek new sales. There are a great many cash market opportunities that are being missed and this happens mainly because these sales too often go unsolicitied. That’s the job of your sales force.

There are many things an independent dealer can do to gain a foothold in the potentially lucrative cash market. The opportunities are there, but you must do some research to identify and locate them. However, before spending one red cent to develop and augment a sales force, you must understand which markets are available to your company.

Your job is to research and develop a game plan. Then you can prepare the correct sales force and provide them with the proper tools with which to work. You cannot simply send a salesperson out with vague orders to sell. Preparation is a key component in opening a new market and that means doing your research first.

Your market study can be done simply. Look up the answers to these questions:
• How much industry is in your community?
• How many colleges and other academic facilities are within the market that you can service?
• How many volunteer ambulance services operate in your region?
• How many communities have their own police and fire departments?
• How many skilled nursing facilities, hospitals, assisted living facilities, psychiatric hospitals, substance abuse rehab, physical rehab, and other health care clinics are there?
• How many of these belong to big hospital chains?
• How many are municipal, state, or private?
• Are they for-profit or non-profit?

This data will help provide you with answers and help locate the potential customers. Record all this data and identify what products are normally purchased. Forget about what the competition does; you are going to attack this market differently. If your potential client is part of a chain, they probably have a cost-plus contract for the bulk of their supplies with a major supplier—either a vendor or a major distributor. Your company is going to cherry-pick the profitable items, while operating under the big distributors’ radar screens.  

Shelly Prial recently turned 90 years old. He is a long-time HME industry advocate, and served for many years as a Medtrade ambassador. Prial may be retired, but he strongly encourages providers to find out more about caretailing opportunities at the upcoming Medtrade, scheduled for Oct 23-25, 2017, at the Georgia World Congress Center in Atlanta.