06. Ty Ford (Henry Schein, Vice President Sales, Western Area)

What does it mean to sell with purpose? How can you bring immediacy and purpose to every conversation, no matter what you’re selling? What if success doesn’t just mean one more closed sale, but one more life saved?

Join Andy Paul (Host of Sales Enablement Podcast) and Ty Ford (Henry Schein, Vice President Sales, Western Area) for a unique conversation exploring what it means to sell with purpose in the era of COVID-19 and beyond.

Learn how Henry Schein has successfully taken their sales teams remote and why selling with a sense of purpose helps you form stronger and more impactful connections with customers.

Learn more about Selling with Purpose podcast.

Conversation Transcript

Andy Paul: Ty, Welcome to the show.

Ty Ford: Hey, thanks, Andy. I really appreciate you having me.

Andy Paul: So where are you locked down these days?

Ty Ford: I am calling in from beautiful Austin, Texas today.

Andy Paul: Very nice. Very nice. It makes me hunger for the salt Lick.

Ty Ford: You know what, it’s the one thing that thank goodness that salt Lake did not, uh, did not close down and the, and the, to go orders were plentiful. So, uh, I’ll.

Andy Paul: How about Franklin’s?

Ty Ford: A little too far of a drive for me, but we can’t turn this into a barbecue debate, Andy. Okay. Because, uh, I think salt lick is still champion.

Andy Paul: Well, I, I love the salt Lake. I mean, so you’re out near driftwood?

Ty Ford: Uh, I am, I’m actually a little town called Wimberley, Texas, so right outside of driftwood? So we’re, uh, we’re extremely close.

Andy Paul: Oh, yeah. You know, I would weigh a thousand pounds if I lived in Austin.

Ty Ford: That’s why we’re doing this audio only. Okay. And not a video

Andy Paul: Last time, my wife and I were there. It’s like, you know, there’s too much good food in Austin, starting with salt lick. And we were just like, Oh yeah, this would be bad. If we were here, we couldn’t exercise enough. If we lived there, we just couldn’t flat out couldn’t exercise enough to keep the weight off.

Ty Ford: That’s not such a bad thing, but, uh, yeah. No, it’s, it’s, it’s great. And we’re fortunate to have it so close and to be in such a great city.

Andy Paul: Yeah. And there’s not to turn this into a food show, but there’s this local, I think small chain of cafe, sort of breakfast cafes that had gingerbread pancakes they’re famous for.

Ty Ford: You know, I think it’s Kirby lane. Now we’re onto breakfast food, Andy. So it’s a whole nother show.

Andy Paul: Yeah. Yeah, no, that’s just a sample of the last trip. You could see why we put on a few pounds, why we’re here, why we’re there so well, so tell us a little bit about Henry Schein. Um, cause this is a company that’s people come into contact with one way or another, that they’re probably not aware of if they go to a dentist office, for instance.

Ty Ford: Yeah. So I, you know, Henry Schein is the, the world’s largest distributor of medical and dental products. Um, we at one point had a, uh, an animal health vertical, uh, that we divested last year. Um, now it’s operating under the name of Covetris. And so Henry Schein specializes in the office based practitioner. So when you look at our, our market share from a dental perspective, support a tremendous amount of, um, single dentist practices as well as large DSO or dental service organizations, and very similar on the medical side, which is what, what I’m a part of.

Um, you know, we service a tremendous amount of the independent practices, surgery centers, and large integrated delivery networks, hospital owned health systems. So, um, a wide variety of, of segments that we focus on, but primarily, really. Um, you know, focus our distribution efforts on that office based practitioner.

Andy Paul: Interesting. So in terms of, what’s sort of happening today with, uh COVID-19 and so on, is have you pivoted at all with, uh, supplying PPE and, and other things that hospitals need to support that? Or are you still focused on the office?

Ty Ford: But no, I would say that during, during COVID and as a number of States where we’re shutting down and sheltering in place. You know, we, we did have a large number of our independent practices, both on the dental and medical side, um, that unfortunately did close down during that time. You know, we had a segment of our business from an urgent care perspective that remained open. And so a majority of the items that. You know, throughout that time we’re heavily focused on PPE, but the last few weeks we have started to see, you know, a surge in products outside of PPE, which is certainly refreshing to see. So, um, We distributed a number of product categories. So when we start to see more of those categories, start to, you know, certainly to be distributed it’s, it’s certainly looking like businesses is back to usual in some areas. So still have a ways to go, you know, right now we’re, we’re looking at a variety of projects that we’re working on with our customers to, to jumpstart activity. Um, but it’s certainly refreshing just to be able to see certainly what some of the demand is outside of PPE, because we still continue to run into certain situations regarding product categories that are still hard to procure at this time.

Andy Paul: So I imagine it, cause I got a note from my dentist a couple of weeks ago saying, yeah, we’re going to be opening up and uh, but it’s completely different. Right. And I’m just wondering. If, whether you’ve had to sort of, bring on new products in the mix, because they’re talking about, yeah, we’re gonna have one patient at a time in the office, almost. It sounded like, right. And we’re gonna keep you down on your car until we’re ready to bring you up. And I’m just wondering what you’re seeing in terms of how that affects these individual practices?

Ty Ford: Without question, I think it’s going to have a fundamental. Impact on, on what we have experienced thus far, you know, whether we’re seeing the dentist or, or medical professional.

Um, you know, you’re obviously looking at, you know, the waiting room experience, right? Look at the, the emergence of telehealth and the adoption rate of telehealth and a post COVID world. I mean, a lot of technology that’s been around for some times, but, you know, we’ll just say slow to adapt. Um, you know, you’re starting to see, you know, more social acceptance.

Uh, so, you know, I, I. From a product standpoint, you know, just, uh, I would say that what we have found to be extremely beneficial, you know, through the efforts of, of a number of our Team Schein members, you know, it was really sourcing a lot of the PPE products from a number of manufacturers outside of some of the traditional partners that we’ve worked with.

Right. So, um, you know, we’ve continued to provide. Our customers, you know, with these PPE items and a number of options. Right? So as, as some of the companies like Ford collaborated with 3M, um, you know, we had the opportunity to distribute some of, of those, those items for PPE use as well. So. Continue to look for sourcing opportunities, but, um, you know, to your point, I think the patient experience is gonna look a lot different certainly as, as offices begin to open back up and certainly in the very near future.

And so, you know, I think that, um, you know, it’s not necessarily a bad thing, you know, in the sense of the, the extra precautions that the healthcare professionals are, are taking. But, um, you know, we, we certainly want to keep an eye on the, on the supply associated with that, for sure.

Andy Paul: So let’s talk about the impact has been on your sales team. So how many people you have on your sales team and you’re in the West, you managed the Western United States for, you said for the medical side.

Ty Ford: Yeah. So I’m vice president of sales for the Western us. And so under, under my leadership, roughly about 280, um, Selling assets. Okay. That range from some of our traditional reps that are in the, in their individual territories, to some of our strategic account teams as well.

Um, so I, and I have a counterpart in the, in the Eastern U S that has a sales team roughly about that size.

Andy Paul: And so I imagine most of them were field-based right.

Ty Ford: Yup. Absolutely.

Andy Paul: So how to describe for us what that transition was for you to say, okay, everybody’s gone from the field, they’re working from home now.

Ty Ford: I, you know, it’s, it’s, I think probably the biggest transition, um, had to do with, with customer engagement, right? So what are all of our, our field-based reps work from home? And so, um, you know, the, the transition to working from home, you know, wasn’t as big of a stretch. For a lot of those individuals, we have a large number of team of internal eam Schein members that are working from home now that, you know, when some of the initial, um, offices were closing and whatnot, we had to enact some work from home measures for them, which was a little bit of an adjustment.

Um, but for our field based sales team, it’s, it’s something that they’re used to, I would say the biggest challenge, you know, that each one of them had to, to manage through, um, you know, was, was the lack of customer engagement. Um, on a weekly basis that they were used to. Right? So, um, everybody for the most part did continue to engage their customer in a virtual way. Um, but that was probably the biggest adjustment

What about from a tool standpoint on your side, in terms of being able to manage the team and their activities and so on?

You know, we had to embrace a number of technologies, right? So it’s, um, you know, today we utilize, uh, you know, Microsoft teams, for example, for a lot of the virtual conference calls that we normally have.

But, you know, I, I, early on, you know, I think it was extremely important as a sales leader to stay engaged, you know, with our teams in a virtual way. Right? So utilizing, you know, these types of technologies, really just to get some of that face time, you know, with your teams, right. To check in on them, to make sure that everybody was, was coping and managing through this. And as much as you can, to that with the social distancing that was being encouraged, um, You know, we wanted to find new ways to socially interact and, you know, unfortunately right, as the state started to close, um, you know, we were right in the midst of, of, about to attend our national sales meeting, which is, is a great time for our, our team members to engage with each other.

And so, you know, I, for the most part, you know, having to bypass that this year for safety reasons and then immediately go into. You know, the shelters in place that were in effect. Um, the teams definitely missed that. So in any opportunity that we could have to, to embrace some of the technology that’s available to, to engage socially and virtually, you know, we, we saw our teams certainly embrace

Andy Paul: The questions are interesting, just sort of a normal times. Cause you know, you’re supplying. Yeah, it’s the equipment to the medical and dental professionals is, and I’ve seen this other company. So it’s service, the healthcare side is they, they feel a certain sense of mission. And what they’re doing, I was wondering is that, you know, cause they’re helping, they know their products are directly helping people, you know, stay healthy and so on. Is that normally part of, of what your teams are, feel the team culture?

Ty Ford: Without question, when you look at the five constituents that, that Henry shine, you know, that a part of the pillars of our success and when, you know, the manufacturer community that we support and that we distribute for and the customer and the team shine member, just really focusing on those three, um, you know, during this time, I mean, the, the, the some of the greatest information that we provided to our customers, you know, was, was just that insights, right? If, if it was information coming from some of the manufacturing communities where, when products were limited, um, being able to respond to these customer’s needs and the efforts of our sales team during this time were certainly commendable.

Um, You know, there were, there were national shortages of products that were very hard to come by. And so, um, just responding to customers and a lot of our sales teams, you know, really took a hands on approach to helping secure and procure products for them that were hard to come by. Um, you know, at that time that that customer said, you know, true needs, you know, to protect, you know, their staff to protect themselves.

Um, so, you know, I, without question, you know, I think during this time that, um, That we do have a greater sense of, of what we were doing, you know, in, in the marketplace and working with the manufacturers, um, that we’re working as hard as they could to try and provide products, you know, available to us, to, to ship to our, our, our customers.

And, you know, during, during this time, I mean, just as, as States we’re empowered, you know, as we’re a lot of organizations like Henry Schein to work with our suppliers, work with the government on FEMA Air Bridge shipments, uh, that we were able to do to get product to our customers on the front line. So there, there were a number of, of, I would say that, um, protocols that we enabled to, to try and get product to the hotspots.

Um, as best we could, right. When inventory was available

Andy Paul: Part of the reason I asked the question about culture is having spent time researching the company and, and going through your website and so on is, is that. The culture. I mean, everybody talks about culture, but you guys really front and center talk about, “Hey, you know, we’ve been recognized as, you know, the top workplace for equality and diversity.”  And, and I was just wondering, you know, how deeply does that permeate throughout the organization?

Ty Ford: From a leadership perspective, it’s certainly at the, from the top down, right? So, you know, Stanley Bergman, our chairman does a tremendous job of, of empowering his leaders, um, to make great decisions, you know, from that perspective and keeping that, you know, at the forefront of our culture.

So, you know, we, we want to always continue to. Um, you know, encourage it, you know, and, and understand that joining Tem Schein and being part of the Team Schein culture, um, embodies a number of things, right? So it’s, it’s just as much a concern for people as it is a concern for results. Um, and, and a lot of that is, is certainly what’s what was passed down from the Schein family that, that Stanley has continued to create and ensure this preserved.

Um, no matter how large the organization like Henry Schein has. So I would, I would say that if, um, you know, the culture of Henry Schein and team shine, It’s certainly one of the most distinguishable that’s out there in the marketplace today. And frankly, when you ask a number of individuals either, you know, why they, why they join your organization and why they stay with the organization. It’s because of the culture that is here at Henry Schein.

Andy Paul: Sort of circling back. So how does, how does that how’s that reflected in sort of the day to day sales culture of the company?

Ty Ford: Uh, you know, I think it’s reflected in a number of ways, right? I, I, I look at the team members that were engaged in every exercise that we just went through.

Um, you know, whether they’re internal team members working from home for the first time supporting our external field reps, if it’s our product category managers that are trying to procure products from sources outside of some of the traditional suppliers, because of limitations and limited availability, you know, it it’s. Everyone was working tremendous hours during this time on weekends during this time to find solutions to truly be identified as that trusted advisor. And, you know, during, during this time, unfortunately, a large number of dentists were closed, right? With the exception of those that were facilitating emergency services.

So, you know, our, our, our dental counterparts. You know, I had to somewhat, you know, sit back during this time and really focus more on the planning phase of, of when Dennis we’re going to open back up. And so, um, you know, uh, a lot of best practices were shared, you know, along the way as we began developing some of the strategies that we will now be utilizing, you know, in this next phase of, of reopening, um, but I would say that that certainly from a cultural perspective, it was embodied with whatever your role is within the organization was contributing to the overall mission of, of certainly being that trusted advisor for our customers.

Andy Paul: So as you look forward and you’re going, it’s sort of as an extension, what you’re going through now is how do you see your, your sort of go to market messaging, changing or evolving?

Ty Ford: Yeah, I, that’s a, that’s a great question. I think one of the first things that we, we certainly anticipate and look at is, you know, the, the possible resurgence of, of, of this, you know, certainly this, this virus and infection coming back, right.

So, you know, what, what did we learn, you know, throughout this time, you know, that we can certainly leverage for our customers to be in a better position, um, you know, to meet. And so I think that to your point, that’s what you’re starting to see. You know, with some of the protocols that are being enabled and certainly supported right now in terms of waiting rooms and social distancing and things along those lines.

So, um, you know, I, I would say that first off it’s it’s what did we learn, you know, throughout this and anticipation of, of, you know, it, it happening again, right. You know, I, I can certainly say that a priority for us is going to be continuing to see, you know, to focus on the diagnostic testing. So get a Henry Schein was one of the first, uh, you know, first companies to launch an antibody-test, you know, to the market.

Um, you know, and, and we have a number of our, our supplier partners now that have come to market with certain diagnostic tests as well. So, you know, I think we’ll continue to see, you know, focus on, um, on. Understanding the guidelines, right. That are being promoted out there regardless of our segmentation, right?

To ensure that family practice and individual practices, as well as surgery centers up to the health systems are fully aware of what, uh, you know, what the recommendations and guidelines are, you know, and then understand what can we do to, to certainly ensure that, uh, that proper testing is, is enacted. So I think a big part of what we’re looking at right now with a lot of our supplier partners, you know, is really understanding the core co-morbidity and looking at, you know, when you, when you look at the, uh, the number of, of individuals that, um, you know, the, the impact that overall wellness had from a, you know, chronic disease standpoint, really understanding that, right. So, you know, not, not just the diagnosis of a COVID-19, but also really understanding the impact that it had, you know, on some of the patients that suffered some more of those chronic diseases.

So it’s just diabetes, right. So, you know, when you look at the way in which we can help contribute, you know, to. To the, I would say the greater patient population that could be potentially impacted by this falls back in line with what did we learn? Right. So I think that’s one of the things that we learned, um, that we can continue to introduce new technologies, new testing, methodologies, you know, to the, to the market.

Andy Paul: So thinking about your field sales force, cause this is a question that, that talked about with number of people recently is okay. One of the questions is, well, geez, how do we start redeploying our people into the field? How do we help them feel safe doing that? And then on the flip side is on the customer side. When do they feel comfortable having, you know, outsiders come into their, their workplaces again. Um, so what, what have  you guys been thinking about that?

Ty Ford: Yeah, great, great question. Um, you know, I, I, first and foremost, when we look at the, uh, you know, certainly the, the health and wellness of our team shine members, you know, we want to make sure that, you know, that that they’re comfortable and that they have all the necessary, you know, PPE items that they would need to have.

So one of the things that, that we have, we have worked on is really creating, um, You know, PPE kits for our sales team that are going to be engaging customers, you know, on a regular basis. And so we’re in the process of distributing those to our team members that are going to be engaging, you know, the frontline healthcare provider in the various States, and really following a lot of the other guidelines that are being published by state.

Right. So I think that you’ve got, um, you know, some practices that have, that have already been opened and remained open, um, you know, one want the level of engagement, you know, but it certainly needs to meet. You know, the safety criteria, whether that’s, you know, wearing the necessary PPE that we’re providing to our team members, um, you know, or, or meeting virtually during this time.

So, you know, I would say first and foremost, it is the well the wellbeing of our team shine members. Right. And what can we provide them during this time? And then of course, following, you know, each and every state and guideline that’s being published and certainly the wishes of the practice. So you, I think right now we’re seeing a wide variety, um, Of what those expectations are that are varying from state to state.

Andy Paul: Well, I think the tough thing is sort of the person to person aspect of it, right. Is I think you have people who have varying levels of comfort based on their own situation about going out. And re-engaging

Ty Ford: Without question. Yeah, I mean, without question. And so we wanted, you know, obviously we want. Yeah, I think our customers have been certainly more than supportive during this time of, of embracing every type of communication methodology that’s out there.

Right. To ensure that we’re staying in constant contact with them. And I, and I, it’s not something that, you know, that we’re introducing, right. It’s something that I think that, you know, society wise, I think we’ve all embraced it differently than, than what we normally would have. So, you know, I, I think that that’s, you know, certainly, you know, when you, when you start to look out at, you know, our sales team that are communicating with their family members in this way, right. I mean that communicating with customers, you know, that they care just as deeply for, um, you know, is something that we’re seeing more and more of as well.

Andy Paul: Yeah. So just looking forward a little bit is, is for you, is, is what have you learned possibly during this shutdown period, we’ve redeployed your field team, as you said. So partially because they were working from home anyway, but spending less certain and spending less time in the field is what the prospect of more virtual selling, taking place of your thought. Yeah. Yeah. Maybe we need to change. I don’t know the profile of the person we need or the skill sets of what they need, or we need to enable them in a different way than we have in the past. What have you been thinking along that lines?

Ty Ford: Yeah. You know, and that’s a great, that’s a great question. Um, you know, I, I can say that, you know, it’s still a little early, right? So when, when you look at, um, at, at where we’re monitoring the States, and as each States are opening up and really looking into the data to understand what we see, um, You know, it it’s, there’s been a very heavy reliance on, on data to help us make decisions.

You know, certainly from a sales leader’s perspective, you know, as far as the, you know, the profile of our, of our, our sales team member today, um, you know, it certainly technology has continued to play a big part. Um, of selling in any environment, right? I mean, when you look at how, you know, how, how a sales sales, professional day utilizes all the resources that are available, um, you know, I, I think that it’s, it’s certainly, you know, different than, than what it’s looked like in years past and, and going through an event like this certainly accelerates, you know, the adoption and the engagement, you know, at a, at a different level as well.

So, you know, I, within the last year, you know, we’ve. We’ve actually worked with, with Salesforce to introduce, you know, a lot of the CRM technology to our sales team members utilizing that. So I think that, you know, certainly times like this, where there’s been a little bit more, you know, time in the home office, you know, then than previously, you know, it’s allowed us to, you know, to, to dig into that data a little bit, right.

To utilize more of the resources that we have to kind of, you know, enable our sales team to go out there and, and prospect more. So, um, you know, it’s a wide variety of the technology and the tools that are available. Um, you know, that during a time like this, I think that, that, you know, all of our sales assets are really.

Started to focus on, but you know, at the end of the day, that that customer to customer, you know, that, that interaction that our sales team thrives on, as I would probably say is, is, is what we anticipate the most right. To get back to and to experience. You know, as, as a field based sales organization that we have, and that’s, that’s what we thrive on. Right. Is that, that customer interaction.

Andy Paul: Yeah. I think there’s a lot of people that share that sentiment. So last, last question for you is, is, um, so are there. Different KPIs that you’ve been tracking now during this period than you did before. And what, what might those be? They give you a different insight into what’s happening.

Ty Ford: Yeah. Great, great question. Um, you know, I would say that early on, you know, when you, when you start to look at, at, uh, our business, right? And you look at it from a distribution perspective and all the different product categories, you know, that, that we normally distribute. I mean, the, the, the sales mix that our team members, you know, focus on, you know, every day is, um, you know, one of the, without question, one of the strengths, right?

When you look at the sheer vastness of our portfolio and the number of supplier partners that we support, um, You know, throughout this process, you know, you know, you’re only seeing a small fraction of that sales mix start to come through it. Right. Which we’re heavily focused on PPE. Right. So, you know, I would say some of the KPIs that we’ve, that we’ve really stayed hyperfocused on, certainly over the last, over the last few weeks.

Right. Are some of those additional product categories outside of PPE, right? So from a, from a forecasting perspective, No, I don’t think we ever could have anticipated the sheer volume that we saw, you know, with, with some of those items. Um, you know, and, and now that we’re starting to see, you know, States opening up and, and practices opening up and specialties that have been closed.

And, you know, whether it’s because of, you know, procedures that were put off until, you know, till officer’s reopened right. Or, or utilizing PPE categories, um, You know, within specialties that normally don’t utilize those PPE. We’ve been, we’ve been learning along the way with that. Right. So, you know, I would say right now, you know, it’s, it’s really truly understanding the nature of our business from web ordering and technology ordering, you know, perspectives, right.

For our team members to really, you know, understand what, what the business looks like and where those needs are coming from. So really trying to take a. A glimpse of the data coming from a number of sources then, and modeling that out to see, you know, what, where are the activity and where do we need to increase demand within certain markets, you know, for, for specific reasons.

And it’s helping us develop a lot of our go to market strategies in this post COVID era, right. As we look to see, okay, this is what the data’s telling us. Right. And so what do we need to now focus on or double down on with regards to these efforts?

Andy Paul: I wish it were the post COVID era.

Ty Ford: Well, I, I, you know, and that’s, that’s a good point.

I mean, I, I would say to at least from the standpoint of, of the practices being opened, right. And so when you start to at least see that, um, you know, that we, we went, we went from a phase where, you know, there was, there was a lot of panic. Right. And even from the customers, it was, you know, let’s, let’s acquire as much product as we can get.

Right. And so you see a number of, of measures that were enacted such as allocations and certain restrictions that we provided, you know, out there in the marketplace to make the products. You know, stretch as far as we could. And so, you know, now that we’re starting to see States opened back up, and now we can somewhat try to understand what some of those needs are.

Um, you know, it’s, it’s starting to shift. All right. And, and it looks different than it did a few weeks ago. Right. But, um, you know, you, you still have. You know, you still have a lot of the same demand that’s that’s occurring with certainly limited supply.

Andy Paul: Yeah. I think that’d be one of the real critical issues as you sort of alluded to earlier is, is certainly there’s a number of epidemiologists that infectious disease experts.

So think that. We’re going to see a second peak that is at least as big as what the first peak was. Um, so I was just wondering, are you seeing your customers now ordering in anticipation of that so that they don’t fear having the shortages or the supply chain? The supply chains are still strained trying to catch up?

Ty Ford: I think there’s certain within certain categories. I think the supply chain is still strained. Right. I think that, um, you know, there, you, you do see some, some opportunities out there, you know, where you’re starting to see, you know, that the, the rationing strategies and the allocation strategies, you know, are effective.

Right. And, and, you know, our manufacturers are doing a fantastic job of, of certainly getting product to us, you know, throughout this time. Um, you know, I, that’s where I start to see, you know, more, you know, uh, I would say that the focus on diagnostic testing. Yeah, we’re really starting to, you know, now that we have testing available, you know, whereas at the start of this week, we didn’t right.

You only, you only had certain PPE, right. That you could use, you know, in defense of this. Right. So I think that’s where, you know, what, what have we learned from this what’s available now, as opposed to what was available, you know, and ensuring we’re taking, you know, these products out there to market and educating them with our supplier partners.

So, you know, I definitely see. More of a focus on the diagnostic testing aspect of, of what’s available today versus at the start of this.

Andy Paul: Well let’s hope we avoid that second peak. So well, Ty, it’s been great talking to you. So if people want to connect with you, how could they connect with

Ty Ford: you? Feel free to reach out to me via email, um, tied up forward@henryschein.com.

Um, You know, we’ve got Team SChein members all across the U S and so anything that we could do to, to help out and provide us some additional insights would love to. And I certainly appreciate, appreciate your time today, Andy. It’s been great talking to you. Yeah. It’s

Andy Paul: been great to meet you and thank you for joining us.

Ty Ford: Oh, you’re welcome, sir.