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Maximizing Healthcare Sales Performance Requires Effective Coaching Now More Than Ever

Even in today’s world of heightened complexity and rapid change, healthcare stands out. New regulations, shifting priorities and consumer demands, evolving business models and the increased role of technology have completely altered the playing field.

If you’re selling in this dynamic environment, it can feel like you’re running a race with a moving finish line.

In many cases, your buyers—who you may have spent years cultivating relationships with—have completely changed. Decisions are being made by centralized bodies and coalitions of diverse stakeholders, with different priorities and accountabilities. And now that “merger mania” is in full swing, the players could soon be changing again.

Not only that, today’s emphasis on value-based care means healthcare sales teams are now feeling greater cost pressures, while new competitors are threatening to cut into that ever-tightening share of the budget.

It’s enough to test the mettle of even the most confident and experienced salesperson.

It’s not surprising that many medical device, pharma and life sciences sales professionals are feeling overwhelmed and even discouraged. Now more than ever, they need effective coaching to keep them on track, motivated, and prepared and willing to stretch beyond their preconceived limits.

Here are 3 key coaching areas every healthcare sales manager should be focused on:

1. Beliefs: How salespeople feel about their ability to sell in this environment may have as much to do with their success as any aspect of their jobs. While coaching on skills is important, sales managers must recognize the need to coach beliefs and attitudes. By opening up discussions with salespeople about their beliefs, the sales manager can gain insights into how they view their ability to do the job in light of today’s realities.

2. Planning: Planning— including long-term strategic and pre-call plans—has never been so essential to sales success. With the availability of resources like LinkedIn, customer websites, online analysis and trends, and 24/7 news sites, customers expect salespeople to do their homework. Considering the speed of change, the intensity of the competition, and the tight control over time and budgets, generic conversations and “winging it” won’t cut it. Many salespeople are quickly realizing preparation is a non-negotiable activity. However, others need coaching to make planning a consistent sales behavior.

3. Actions: Selling to a broader coalition of stakeholders presents another coaching opportunity. Even if salespeople believe they can be successful, making the transition will likely stretch their comfort zones. Understanding the products isn’t enough. Salespeople have to understand the bigger view—the changes in today’s healthcare environment and how they impact their customers.

Coaching salespeople to interact with stakeholders should now include:

– Creating strategic account plans with clearly defined account goals
– Identifying stakeholder goals, initiatives and challenges
– Engaging all key stakeholders in meaningful dialogue
– Selling value beyond product

Develop Managers to Coach Both “Skill” and “Will”

The environment isn’t going to let up. But you can set your salespeople up for success by starting with the managers responsible for supporting them. Make “skill” and “will” coaching a core competency of performance appraisals, implement a consistent coaching model that aligns with these key factors, and provide the resources to sustain continuous improvement.

Superior healthcare sales performance requires sales teams who have effective coaches in their corners, no matter how much the playing field shifts beneath their feet.

About the Author
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John Crowder

John Crowder brings over 25 years of sales and leadership experience in the healthcare industry to the Integrity Solutions team. Prior to joining us, he worked for and led sales teams in medical device and pharma ranging from start-ups to Fortune 500 companies, spending a significant part of his career working in key account management, sales and leadership development, and marketing. Prior to his career in the medical space, John spent six years as a Division-1 football coach including a three year stint at the United States Naval Academy where he also served as a Commissioned Officer. John’s decades of experience and passion for coaching allow him to understand and address the unique needs and challenges of those in the sales and leadership professions. He lives in Annapolis, MD with his wife and two daughters.
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