Should You Take Business Advice from Manufacturer Reps?

should you take business advice from manufacturer reps article

I feel like I may regret this article … and trust me, it’s easier to avoid this subject (like everybody else in the industry does). 

But here’s the thing … 

The main objective of the Business of Hearing is to HELP private practice hearing care clinics attract more patients, run smarter businesses, and thrive in today’s fast-changing world. 

Therefore, I may be one of the only people in the industry who ONLY has your best interests at heart. 

Because being specific about who you take advice from is obvious in some walks of life, right?

  • You wouldn’t take weight loss advice from somebody who has never lost any weight.

  • You wouldn’t take advice on how to play pickleball from somebody who has never played.
  • And you wouldn’t take business advice from somebody who has never run a business, right?

Oh … And that’s why we’re in this discussion today. 

You see, every industry that I’ve ever worked in has had the belief that “our industry is different” and cannot be compared to other industries.

And for nearly every industry this is untrue. 

Yet in several ways, hearing care IS incredibly different from any other industry

  • You sell something that nobody, fundamentally, wants to own. 
  • You sell it for more than most people want to pay. 
  • And it doesn’t work as well as many people want.

Yet when I compare this industry to others, the thing I find the most interesting is how the manufacturer has so much power and influence. 

In nearly every other industry, the manufacturer works for the store/sales mechanism … yet in hearing care, the manufacturer is on a pedestal of holding all of the cards and responsibility. 

I find it odd. 

Now before I jump straight into my opinions around this—I do want to be very clear that this is not an attack on manufacturers

  • They truly do care.
  • Reps do their absolute best.
  • They naturally have a vested interest in your success.

We’re a very lucky industry to have manufacturers who invest so much budget into relationships, support, and help (very few industries do). 

However, many clinics heavily rely on manufacturers as the EXPERTS on all subjects. 

They almost delegate the boardroom-size decisions and responsibility for growth to the manufacturers.  

It’s bonkers! 

For example … 

You should not rely on a manufacturer to help you make decisions around the following three things.

1. Business Decisions

Most manufacturer reps have not operated a business, nor are they business specialists or experts. They are product specialists who care for your success.

If you are relying on their influence and decisions around recruiting, growth, or acquisition, then you have to accept that this is naturally not a wise decision.

2. Pricing 
A manufacturer has a specific lens on pricing and it’s solely about the product. They’re held accountable over unit sales, and that’s the language that they talk. 
But as we’ve discussed many times, if you are positioned as selling hearing aids, you will find yourself in a pricing battle because you’re selling a commodity. Your job is to package outcomes for patients through treatment plans, part of which is a set of hearing aids. 

3. Marketing 
If you want your marketing to stand out and be unique, then you naturally should seek the help of a marketing expert. Manufacturers do a great job of getting you in the game, but they’re built for scale, which means that templates are their channel to deliver on promises.

Look, I want to be clear here. 

You’re lucky to have manufacturers who care as much as they do in this industry … nearly every other industry has much more transactional relationships with manufacturers who don’t care for their success. 

But please don’t rely on them to make boardroom-sized decisions for your business. 

In the same way that you wouldn’t take advice on dispensing a hearing aid from me, you have to recognize that if you take business advice from somebody who has never run a business, take it with a pinch of salt. 

Just my thoughts. 


Looking for something specific? Search here

Pin It on Pinterest

Share This

Share This

Share this post with your friends!

× Drop Oli Luke a Message