Break the barriers. Crush the competition. Defy the odds.
by Mike Sperduti

When faced with challenges, unstoppable individuals and companies defy odds, set new standards and consistently create outcomes that others say are impossible. These mavericks and super pros have the courage and confidence to stand up and take responsibility when others are scared, confused and throwing in the towel. I love a tough business climate. I love big challenges, and so do my clients. And hopefully, after reading this article, so will you. These are the moments that allow us to grow and separate ourselves from the rest of the pack. In 2015, you can crush your competition. While everyone else is dropping out of the race, you can see a checkered flag. You can be unstoppable. While everyone else is looking backward, the unstoppable are focused on the future. While they are terrified, we're making more money than ever. In the old days of HME, almost anyone could succeed—just get your Medicare license and, with patient demand ever greater, you could sit back and wait for the referral sources to fax in the orders. Prosperity carried the entire industry forward, and it was easy to be successful. But I'm going to share with you how to succeed like never before today, in these most challenging of times. Despite all the pain caused by competitive bidding and new health care legislation, the highly strategic, proactive and unstoppable individuals and companies have embraced these initiatives. These difficult economic times are cleansing the marketplace of weak competitors who reaped the easy benefits of good times despite lack of business skills. That's why I am confident that, if you model yourself after these unstoppable individuals, you can have your best years, even as those around you are facing disaster. You and your business will come out of this new era of health care stronger and more prosperous than you have ever hoped or dreamed. Why is it that when you go to Medtrade you see, meet and talk to people whose companies are realizing booming sales and record profits? What is different about them? It comes down to three things. Companies that are breaking sales records, serving more patients and making unprecedented profits have complete focus on position/message engineering, having the right people and modeling for excellence. If you are losing to your competition, it doesn't necessarily mean they offer a better service or better patient care. In our ongoing study, "The Referral Source Speaks," we have interviewed hundreds of case managers, discharge planners, physician offices and sleep labs. They have told us time and time again that most HME companies offer the same services and use outdated and old sales and marketing messages. More than 76 percent of the U.S. market is referring to five or more companies because no one is doing or saying anything different. Most of the underperforming companies I have worked with share an interesting business philosophy—one that holds them back and may also be keeping them from achieving growth and success. Their strategy is simple but destined to fail. Whether business is up or down, these individuals and companies take one of two actions: They either do more of the same thing or less of the same thing. Their action plan centers on how things have always been done rather than doing something different, better, more impactful and productive. Unstoppables change the game, strategy and tactics—and guess what? The results change. Every company that we have worked with that has taken this approach has seen results and fast, geometric growth. Most people think change takes time. But unstoppable people know that change happens in an instant, in one moment, with one decision. If you have quit smoking, lost weight, stopped drinking or turned around a department or company, you know exactly what I'm talking about. The unstoppable strategy begins with engineering a compelling message that positions your company as the only choice. Every word, every image and every initiative must deliver this message. It can be difficult—and it requires some work—but it is a must. Make your patients feel that you understand, appreciate, respect and empathize with their situations, challenges and problems, and then provide solutions that make their lives easier, their problems disappear and their most important goals achievable. No matter how they are introduced to your company, your patients and referral sources must easily and quickly see who you are, what services and products you provide, what benefits they will see and feel and why it makes sense for them to choose you over the competition. Unstoppables train their salespeople to talk differently and to have meaningful conversations that uncover how your company can help and why you are the best choice. Referral sources and patients will choose HME companies that can demonstrate a superior solution presented in a way that makes total sense to the individual. Unstoppables know that all advertising, messaging and sales processes must be in alignment with how the referral sources and patients make decisions, including the most effective ways to communicate to them and elicit their buying strategy. This ensures that the money invested in sales and marketing will create new patients and profits. That is why you must do market research. It may seem like a luxury, but it is necessary if you want to be successful. If you don't have the time or expertise, you can outsource this critical function for a few thousand dollars and get a great ROI. Whether you do this critical research in-house or outsource, think of it as the only way to find out what will catch your customer's attention and how to translate that into profits. With that information you will specifically define what problem your company solves for what particular segment of the market. You will engineer a powerful message to the right audience. Now you know who to target, how to get their attention and what language and communication style will most likely get them to start a relationship with your company. Now that we have the right positioning and messaging, we need the right sales people to generate new patient referrals or turn retail prospects into buying customers. We need revenue-generating machines. It's nice if your salespeople are nice; it's great if they have clinical expertise, but if that doesn't translate into new patient referrals and revenue growth, you must reposition them or let them go. Some of the recurring comments in my speaking sessions and workshops are "My salespeople can't sell. I am terrible at sales hiring. How do I hire people who can bring me revenue?" Most people think you need to have superior interview skills—and you do—but first, you need the right personality to fit the role. Everyone needs to find a job at which they can excel. The secret? Use personality tests to hire the right sales and operating team. In a meeting with Van Miller, founder and CEO of VGM, I asked him the secret to building one of the smartest and nicest companies in health care. How did he find all those great people who were ideal for their jobs? His answer was personality tests. Everyone knows that Van is unstoppable. One of my former clients and now global strategic advisor for one of my companies, Emerge, is Ken Waters. For those of you who are not familiar with Ken, he is a super pro, an unstoppable leader who builds not only companies, but also shareholder value. Ken was voted one of the best sales managers in the selling business by Sales & Marketing Management magazine. I asked him for his secret to building hypergrowth companies. His answer, like Van's, was personality testing. According to Ken, all great sales reps share personal qualities that instinctively drive behavior. Super-closers possess high ego drive and assertiveness. Long-term business developers require high levels of accommodation and empathy to support the stamina required for protracted sales processes. Discovering the presence and appropriate mix of 18 vital personal qualities during an interview is virtually impossible, but absolutely necessary, for hiring managers. Candidates may appear extroverted during an interview, but they may only be displaying extroverted behavior during that time. Unless you're a psychologist with vast experience studying the personal qualities of peak-performing sales reps, use a company that does. Cost-effective, highly predictive tests exist; Ken has used one for more than 20 years. Hiring without this insight is a risky practice and can frequently lead to expensive hiring mistakes. Now that we have the right players, we need to train them to produce excellent and predictable outcomes. Another tool in the quest to become unstoppable is the principle of modeling. This is the most powerful way to achieve outstanding performance and turn around any failing effort immediately. The basis of modeling is simply "if someone can do it, anyone can do it." Learn from the best, from people who are getting the outcomes you want. Capture how they do what they do, code them and reproduce them. Consider the best sales performers in your company, or even better, in the complete HME space. They consistently produce at a much higher rate than their peers. They seldom have off weeks, months and years. They reproduce their brilliance every day, in everything they do. That is what puts them at the top of their game. Anyone with the right personality can learn to do the same—and get the same results. In my seven — step sales training process, we take the very best of what the top people do, synthesize it into a teachable process, make it learnable and share it with our students. You can imagine how their performance skyrockets. This type of modeling is so effective that representatives and companies can predict exactly how many new patients and how much revenue will result, and they can know specifically how to meet their sales goals. I have used the modeling process in all areas of revenue growth including documentation, intake, recur and delivery. The best performers of all time—Wayne Gretzky, Michael Jordan and our unstoppable leaders—all share one characteristic. They soar when the stakes are highest. They are highly trained, with a proven model and the personality to meet the toughest challenges with confidence. They rise to the occasion. Ask yourself the following questions: What if you could start improving everything you do? What if your message was crafted and engineered to break through the noise and position you in the mind of the referral source and patients as the only choice for medical supplies and equipment? What if you had sales and service people whose personal qualities instinctively drove their behavior and actions to be the best in the HME industry? What if you modeled every key process in your company that ensured you produce predictable and repeatable sales and operating profits? The answer is easy—you would be unstoppable.

The Must-See HME New Product Pavilion

One of the fastest ways to increase revenues and grow your business is to add a game-changing product—or what I call "french fry" add-on products—to increase per patient revenues. You can discover both of these wonderful money makers at the New Product Pavilion, sponsored by HomeCare, at Medtrade Spring in Las Vegas March 30-April 1. According to Kevin Gaffney, group show director, Medtrade, more than 30 new products and services will be unveiled for the first time in the U.S. Think about it: You have an opportunity to find the next great product and be the first—or possibly the exclusive—provider in your area. I personally have identified and acquired ownership distribution rights and have sold millions of dollars in product thanks to this awesome must-see HME product pavilion. Believe me, it's worth the price of admission. Here are a few simple tips to take advantage of the awesome opportunity.

  1. Show accountability—Make someone in your company laser focused and responsible for product line expansion. Have them collect all information and do due diligence for the new products at the show.
  2. Look for the game changers—These products and services are major breakthroughs in patient care. Every show has the promise that you will find the next HomeFill for oxygen patients or the Laser Touch One for pain relief. These are products and services that will provide your patients with faster outcomes and a better way to live with their acute or chronic conditions. They also will have an immediate impact on your bottom line.
  3. Look for the french fries—These are products that perfectly complement a product or service you have sold to a patient that enhances the quality of care and life experience for the patient. Just like fries go perfectly with a burger and laces go with shoes, see what new products you can find that are high-margin, no-brainer add-ons to complement a product you carry and increase your per-patient revenues.
  4. When you get back from the show, set up a new product evaluation committee. This should include sales, operations and finance. Have each stakeholder evaluate the products to make sure they are a perfect fit for the company and have the necessary patient demographics, operating infrastructure, sales/marketing talent and financial requirements to be a winning new addition to your stock.

If you go to the show with this simple game plan and focus, you—like me—will thank our friends at Medtrade and HomeCare for changing your business and life for the better!