Buying EMS Equipment & Supplies smart is getting more and more difficult. With so many versions of the same EMS products available, How do you know which one is the best value? Most good Distributors offer you a choice of products to meet each of your clinical needs. But how do you know how to pick between them?
One way is to cultivate relationships with industry experts familiar with the products you use and the work you do. Many think Distributor Representatives are just there to try to sell things to you. The better Distributor Reps are far less concerned with a deal this month than building a relationship with you. They know they are really there to help you make better-informed product selections. If they do their job well, you are more likely to order from them regularly.
The Territory Managers who work for EMS Product Distributors are trained to understand the products they sell. They often know what you need to know, before you plunk your money down. Like any other sales professionals, there are good and bad ones out there. Finding a good one can save you time, money, and keep you from making some big purchasing mistakes.
If you do not have a relationship with a good EMS Distributor Territory Manager, I suggest you start looking for one you can trust. They can become your best asset when trying to pick the right EMS product at the right price to meet your real needs. How can you tell the good ones from the bad?
Here are a few “test questions”, to ask when meeting a new potential Distributor Representative.
How long have you been doing this work? It takes 9 months to learn almost any kind of job, even a pretty simple one. Imagine trying to learn about thousands of EMS products, from hundreds of different suppliers. It takes years to get very knowledgeable.
Do they have any EMS field experience? Do they have any EMS teaching experience, and can they perform high quality In-Service Training for your Department? Ex-Paramedics, EMT’s and Health Professionals can better appreciate the challenges you face. More importantly they know the difference between an In-Service and a Product Sales Presentation.
Have you ever scheduled an In-Service with a supplier or manufacturer who basically comes out and gives you another Sales Pitch? That is because many really don’t know the difference.
In all US Hospitals today, it is a standard practice to document training on all new devices. You should find someone who can help carry this important ball for you, or you will be faced with increased liability. Since I have been unable to carry out my master plan regarding lawyers (another blog), sooner or later one will slither in you’re door hunting for money.
It is very important that when they do, you have proper training documented regarding the equipment you use. If you have a problem that involved equipment operation and cannot document training, you will have more difficulty defending your actions.
Ask them a few clinically related EMS Product questions that you already know the answers to. Find one they can’t answer, and then see how they handle it. One great sign of a good person to deal with is the answer “I don’t know” followed by a phone call back with the right answer – in less than 24 hours.
Ask them about buying something you already know is complete junk. Leave your question open ended like, “What do you think of this product?”. You are looking for is someone who will warn you of product problems before you buy. When I was a Territory Manager I would always warn someone who wants to buy something I knew was either unreliable or does not work. If an agency still wants to buy it after my warnings, that’s fine. But if or when they do have problems later, I want them to remember that I tried to talk them out of it.
To sum it up; shop for more than a great price, shop for great vendor support. It will save you money, time, and reduce your liability. The vendor relationships you build will serve you well for many years to come.