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Physician's Practice and the Sales Rep - Part 3

Sunday, April 28, 2002 | 1072 | 0 | min read

This series has covered some basic premises of professional marketing, the differences between an agency and sales reps, and what exactly a sales rep sells.

The final issue is how should the physician supervise and remunerate a sales rep?

Every relationship is unique in physician marketing. Most marketers have a small network of providers that they represent and promote. Some will limit themselves to certain specialties only - others will seek to build a rounded combination of services.

Likewise, every physician is different in the marketing services they need, and/or want. Established physicians don't need the same kind of services that physicians new to the industry need. Orthopedists have different requirements than pain management specialists. Are you going to be defense oriented, injured worker oriented, or try and stay neutral with AME work? Will the physician focus on treatment with medical-legal reporting as a sideline, or will the emphasis be reporting?

Budgetary issues are also a primary consideration - an established physician may end up with a marketing budget that is similar to one just breaking into the field - it all depends on what the goals of marketing are. Some physicians wish to be "bundled" with others so they present a rounded referral basis; others are more comfortable being identified individually.

While philosophically one just needs to be an honest and credible provider, in reality certain physicians get a "reputation" as either conservative or liberal.

All of these factors come into play when a marketer or sales rep bids services for your practice.

Thus, remuneration of the rep is contingent on the goals of the physician and the physician's practice. Much of the work of the rep is going to be field work: meeting people, going to conferences, attending seminars, putting on educational events. And of course, time is also divided into the office: phone calls and follow up, creating and managing printed materials, dealing with problematic issues and damage control where earlier reputations dog an account.

So remuneration of the rep isn't an easy analysis. There is not hard set rule, or even any guidelines, to follow. What is consistent is that if you hire an experienced rep you will undergo an intensive question and answer session to assist defining your goals, your medical philosophy, and your budget which ultimately determines the sales rep remuneration. Don't be put off by the question, "What is your budget?" Most people, let alone physicians, don't even think about a marketing/sales budget. Expect to spend some time on these issues BEFORE any discussion takes place regarding remuneration. Questions about your budget aren't about sales rep remuneration - these questions are to determine the direction of your campaign which of course does affect the sales rep's pay, but is not the sole issue.

Professional services marketing and sales is a strenuous and time-consuming undertaking. But the health of your practice depends on some form of strategic marketing. Hiring a sales representative to promote your services is one part of the total picture to ensure the success of your practice.

Author Lynn Hartzell is the owner of Lynn Hartzell & Associates, and specializes in marketing physicians to the workers' compensation community. She can be reached at 626-331-7027, or by e-mail at lynn_hartzell@workcompcentral.com.

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