As a vendor, I find most practices on the defense when I call (even when they have asked for the call). There is a healthy dose of suspicion and a pinch of mistrust about the intentions of the caller. Generally, the concern is, “Are you trying to sell something to me?” If yes, the answer is, “No”, before you ever get started.
Our receptionists are trained to block any and all callers from reaching the doctors. They see this is the mark of a great receptionist and take pride in helping the doctor not be ‘bothered’ by all these unnecessary interruptions.
I agree with this on some level, but unfortunately, this approach is the proverbial, “Throw the baby out with the bathwater”. For every unnecessary caller who is blocked, there is one that had something to offer to grow your practice and you will never know about that missed opportunity. I have a different suggestion that achieves both – 1. Don’t waste your time and 2. don’t miss opportunities to grow your practice.
First, have your staff accept all calls and keep a separate document to track all vendor calls. Make sure your receptionist gets the caller’s name, phone and email address. Have him/her communicate to the vendor that 1. we really appreciate your call (you never know who might be your next customer and it is best to have a culture of respect in your office for everyone) and 2. the doctor has his admin day on ____________ and will review all information at that time and get back to you with whether he is interested or not. Provide the vendor with a special email address firstname.lastname@example.org. Any and all proposals and product information should be sent to that email before __________day, otherwise the doctor will consider your information the following week.
On your designated administrative day, review all of the opportunities in this email inbox. Answer each and every email with a) thanks for all of your information, but we are not interested at this time, b) thanks for all the information. Please call me next _______ (admin day) to discuss this opportunity, or c) Thanks for sending all of this information. I am considering your proposal at this time and will get back to you in the next ____ week(s). This approach is effective, efficient and allows you to stay apprised of all the great products and services happening in our market place. You are respectful of the vendor as well by providing a clear and concise answer. Not returning a vendor’s calls only means more calls because they don’t know if you are interested or not. A vendor calling you when you have clearly stated you are not interested should get a stern email or call from you.
Vendors are only trying to provide their products to practices that need them. Practices are unnecessarily blocking vendors. Let’s see if we can improve the process for all.