Industry Newsmaker

Keeping Pace with Change

Ty Bello and Team@Work’s HME sales coaching approach evolve with industry, technology.

While providers struggle with a multiplicity of challenges in terms of reimbursement and public policy, there is one challenge that will remain common throughout their careers: they have to make the sale.

Whether working with referral partners or engaging patients in retail sales, providers must be able to get their clients to sign on the dotted line, and that’s not always easy. It takes a good degree of organization, discipline and expertise when it comes to working with people.

This is why Ty Bello, president of sales and leadership coaching consulting firm Team@Work founded his business more than a decade ago: to help HME provider businesses increase their organizational, service, management and, above all, sales and marketing effectiveness.

However, Bello’s background before entering the industry was about as far from home medical equipment and sales as a person can get: he began in electrical engineering. After starting out working with electronics in the Army, Bello then joined U.S. electronics maker Magnavox as an electronics technician.

Then, 23 years ago, opportunity knocked.

“A very good friend that was working in DME though that I would be good in sales, and gave me a shot,” he says.

The company that friend was working for was none other than respiratory giant Lincare Inc. Over an 11-year period, Bello moved up into management, where he was responsible for sales for a number of reps across multiple locations.

After working to shape so many sales professionals at the major provider, Bello realized that he could take his sales expertise and share it with a wider spectrum of people across the industry.

“I felt kind of a ‘nudge’ that I could help other businesses; other DMEs,” he said. “So I went and got my credentials as a business coach, and entered back into the industry as a business coach.”

That move let to the founding 12 years ago of Team@Work, a consulting firm that helps HME businesses step up their sales game. The hallmark of Team@Work’s training approach was to try and be as accessible as possible, and to take advantage of communications technology any way possible to help train people, so that Bello could increase

The Technology Shuffle

The funny thing is, while Bello worked to improve his use of technology to reach out to his clients, more and more they were calling on him to travel to their locations and train in person.

“More and more people wanted me to work with their sales teams hands-on,” he explains.

But fast-forward to today, and HME providers are looking to save money, but still need the assistance of firms such as Team@Work. Fortunately, the Internet has kept pace with this change.

“So we’re morphing back to more online training; more Internet-based training; more Skyping; and more coaching by phone, as opposed to traveling, and being with clients on a weekly basis,” he says. “… Now with competitive bidding, this is a perfect time to be doing that, and I’m having more clients ask for that.”

Essentially, Bello is finally getting to implement the ideal Internet-based coaching approach that he envisioned when he first launched his business.

“I’m very happy to do that,” he says. “It allows me to flexibility to serve multiple clients and be able to do a very good job while not having to travel as much. I can give them as much as I can using technology at a fraction of the cost of me going there. It really is the most economical way to approach businesses and coach their sales staff and their customer service staffs.”

Sales Evolution

And if anything, this evolution in training technology and approach is keeping pace with the evolution in HME sales, as well. With reimbursement cuts impacting healthcare as a whole, not just DME, providers are looking for ways to sharpen their sales teams so that they can surmount the increasing challenges facing their referral sales efforts.

“Not only has our industry undergone these horrific cuts, but so has our referral sources,” Bello explains. “They are no cutting back on who they let into their office. … So we have to be even more on our game of being able to get in and visit with these referral sources. Long gone are the days when we could make casual visits.

“What’s really changed is that we’ve become more technical in our sales approach, by using sales systems and processes as opposed to not really having a methodology,” he continues. “So now there is a more strategic and tactical approach to calling on these referral sources than there ever was before.”

That’s why Bello and Team@Work strives to serve up the kind of sales and marketing training and coaching that can help these providers gain that edge at the click of a mouse.

Pulling Double Duty

And there is another benefit to this approach: It has allowed Bello to take advantage of additional opportunities. While providers are diversifying their businesses by expanding into cash sales, senior care and homecare services, orthotics and prosthetics, and home access, Bello is also expanding.

The longtime sales professional is now serving as vice president of sales and marketing for American Sportworks, a national manufacturer of utility vehicles and go-karts. That said, because Team@Work is increasingly leveraging a technology-based training approach, Bello will continue to run his sales coaching business.

“We couldn’t just leave the love that we’ve had for the HME industry for the past 23 years, and the many clients and friends that we’ve gained,” he says. “And we still feel like we have a strong methodology to coach sales reps and customer service reps in how to do business in a good way.

About the Author

David Kopf is the Publisher and Executive Editor of HME Business and DME Pharmacy magazines. Follow him on Twitter at @postacutenews.

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