“What was service you used for your AC?” read the text from my friend Mike, with all the attention to syntax that medium demands.
“Call Ersin with Hoffmeister 201-655-0282. He just replaced our AC unit. He does plumbing too,” read my immediate response.
And this, my friends — the reference — is how sales are made and businesses grow. And just what made me recommend Erisn? Here is the list in order of importance:
- I was able to get him on the phone
- He said he could come when I needed him (not two weeks later)
- He actually came when he said he was going to come
- He did the work with seeming efficiency
- He was pleasant (he did not seem as if my summons had generally annoyed him)
- His work has stood the test of time
- Did I mention he was pleasant?
Note that nowhere in this list do you see anything about price. I have no idea if I paid $500 more or less than I could have with another vendor, and I really don’t care. Is “pleasant” and “actually showed up on time” worth $500 to you? It is to me.
But I don’t think Erisn overcharged me, as I doubt someone who meets my “Magnificent 7 of Service” could turn out to be dishonest. I think, and hope, he billed a fair price to meet his costs and make a reasonable profit. And so, I passed Ersin’s name on to my friend that morning, and if Ersin again delivers solid service, I’m sure the process will repeat.
From the results of our latest CIO SnapSurvey, it seems a few healthcare IT vendors are taking the wrong approach to growing their businesses, with aggressive sales tactics based on dishonestly, trickery and gimmicks (see the anecdote under Questions 6 about the remote control car).
Here are a few common themes:
THE LIE — By far, the most consistent story about an irritating sales tactic is approaching CIOs with the “message” that their boss (the CEO) just loves the product being pitched and really wants the CIO to follow up. Of course, there has been no such contact, no one is fooled, and any chance of a future sale is greatly diminished.
THE GO-AROUND — Often sales folks blocked by executive admins, or CIOs themselves, look to create an irresistible groundswell of demand for their product or service at the departmental level by going directly to the clinicians who would ultimately be using them. The goal is to create a “March on the CIO’s Office,” at the culmination of which, the head doc proclaims: “We need this, and they guarantee it works perfectly with all our existing technologies and infrastructure.”
THE GO-AROUND/LIE COMBO — Another pet peeve of CIOs, this one involves pitching a department head (often a clinician or administrator) about how a particular type of technology can be purchased at the department level — “Without bothering IT, because they have so much on their plate already.” Of course, the vendor fails to tell the department head until after the papers are signed that, “Oh, by the way, we do need IT for just this one little interface.”
THE “WE WENT TO HIGH SCHOOL TOGETHER” LIE — This one is pretty self-explanatory. To secure a call or in-person meeting, the vendor tells the CIO’s admin that the two are old chums. Why they think this deception will be laughed off once the ruse is revealed is beyond me.
But not everyone plays such games, and the success of those who do not, and the esteem in which they are held, are invaluable signposts to one seeking the right path. Contrast the above examples with Legacy Health SVP/CIO John Kenagy’s discussion about Epic:
Guerra: Isn’t it amazing how much a company saying no to something can make you happy?
Kenagy: They do. Yes, I have a great example of it. At Providence, we were pursuing it for the laboratory and saying we want an integrated system, but they said, “No, our product is not mature enough for what you do. Wait a couple of versions and it will be world class, but not now.”
I remember Judith Faulkner — of course, just a lot of the reason that company is great, her vision — but she was once meeting with my team managers and told the story that basically she meets all new employees, and part of her onboarding is not only relating the mission and the values of Epic, but she also teaches a class in honesty.
Kenagy: Yes, and everyone asked, ‘Well, what does it mean to be honest with everyone? Don’t lie?’ And she said, ‘Yes, that’s a part of it but, going beyond that, it’s not only don’t lie, but also don’t mislead and don’t let people hear just what they want to hear. It is your duty to correct them.” I expect that’s not in a lot of other sales company’s presentations.
And there it is in a nutshell. One the one side, we have Ersin, Judy and those who ascribe to the code of conduct that they embrace, on the other, we have the practices described after Question 6 in our Survey. Once again, it’s clear we make things so much more complicated than they need to be, that success has always sprung from Boy/Girl Scout stuff. Be honest, do good work, be fair and pleasant, and your name will be the one typed when a potential customer asks a friend if they “know anyone …”