Department Toolkit Now Available
Neoforma Inc., in collaboration with Varian Oncology Systems (VOS), has developed a software-based planning tool and product catalog for radiotherapy departments . . . Eventually, there will be a Department Toolkit for the entire hospital . . .
Centerline Fall ‘96
The largest U.S. trade show for medical equipment is held every November in Chicago. I had attended, and dreaded, this show for many years...
In 1996, I went there with a new mission: to convince a good portion of the six hundred vendors attending that there was a better way to get in front of their customers.
While there were fifty thousand attendees at this conference, most were not in the middle of a critical decision process. And of those that were, a very small portion would stumble into any particular booth among the hundreds of vendors. And of those, very few would actually remember the products they had seen when it came time for them to make their decision. Also, they were only one of many people usually tasked with making each decision.
Our products could change that.
Since our software on the Web and CD was used as an integral part of the planning processes, everyone visiting our website or using our CD was at the decision sweet spot. Didn’t it make sense to put your products in front of these professionals the Neoforma way? Of course it did.
That was the spiel. So far, so good.
The thing is, I am an introvert. My casual social interactions tend to be awkward, stilted events. Niceties escape me. Witticisms slip into my brain moments too late for effective delivery. Proper nouns — such as names and sports teams — are stored in a largely inaccessible place in my brain. Add to this the fact that I am neither tall nor imposing and look many years younger than my age. More often than not, I even mispronounce my own last name when introducing myself.
Yet I found myself, once again, in a huge, crowded hall, filled with unfamiliar people. And it was my task to walk into as many booths as possible, identify the decision-makers, and convince them that I was going to change everything.
Sometimes I was met with open hostility and asked to leave. Most of the time, of course, I was met with courtesy. After all, most people were mildly interested in what the Internet would mean for their business in the long run and I seemed to know something about it. And it helped that everyone was bored with doing booth duty.
When I met with the junior sales guys, they seldom had heard of Neoforma. But a surprising number of the execs had heard of us. Some were truly interested in exploring our business proposition. Most were simply interested in listening to what I had to say, rather than doing anything about it.
For the most part, I took rejection well at this conference. In fact, I fed on my frustration, walking the aisles with a devout certainty that we would forever change this industry for the better. I was confident that Neoforma would someday become a name recognized by most of these companies. As I’ve said, I didn’t necessarily convey my confidence well, but my ability to talk about this new company that I believed in so strongly was growing.
At the end of each day, Jeff and I would tell our stories of the day — the successes and failures, the eagerness and stubbornness, the challenges and opportunities. We felt exhausted, but above all, we felt privileged.
With a little time, and a little luck, we would make a fundamental improvement to this old, entrenched industry of healthcare. We knew it.