Navigating the Twists and Turns of Healthcare Sales Complexity
In just a few short years, we’ve gone from mounted GPS devices to GPS-enabled cars, phones and watches to self-driving cars. If only we had such a powerful navigation system to help us steer through today’s complex healthcare sales environment.
With disruption and uncertainty upending the traditional healthcare sales model over the past several years, major changes to the sales relationships have raised new questions about how to best navigate this shifting landscape and, more specifically, how salespeople should be spending their time, energy and focus.
Healthcare reform and regulations have had an immense impact on the sales dynamic for your medical device, pharmaceutical or bio-pharma sales reps. At the same time, new players and competitors are affecting how healthcare is being delivered. As these new competitors look for ways to differentiate themselves in the market, they’re causing your customers to look more closely at all aspects of patient care.
And that brings us to the patient. No longer just a passive healthcare consumer, the modern patient is much more knowledgeable and educated than the patient of just a few years ago. Today’s patients are taking a more active role in how their care is delivered and what course of treatment they receive, and that’s affecting how your customers approach care decisions.
But perhaps the most obvious example of the recent changes is the diminishing influence of the doctor, nurse or surgeon that your salesperson likely spent most of their face time with in the past. In addition to mounting patient expectations, new reimbursements and payer delivery systems that emphasize both cost containment and improved outcomes are steering almost all of the healthcare decisions being made today. And more often than not, these decisions are being made by a broad coalition of stakeholders, not just the clinical practitioner.
The addition of these multiple new stakeholders into the decision-making process—each with its own set of priorities, agendas, objectives and perceptions about the value you bring to the table—means salespeople need to recalibrate how they focus their time and how they build and execute their account strategies.
Strategic Account Management in a Dynamic Healthcare Environment
Each of the stakeholders playing a role in the decision-making process today has the potential to be your salesperson’s biggest obstacle on the road to sales success. But within that group are also individuals who have the potential to be your salesperson’s biggest allies and champions. The key is mapping out the account so the salesperson can use their time most effectively, uncover buying motives and develop and partner with those champions to reach their goals.
Here are three key components for smooth navigation through the complex healthcare sales landscape:
- Mapping the Account: Every successful navigation plan starts here. That’s because the more complex a sale, the more important it is that salespeople have a strategy for managing and applying their time in a way that optimizes their impact and results. Until you map it out, you won’t know where you’re going, where the potential roadblocks might be and where there are opportunities to find or create a shortcut.
- Developing and Executing Account Strategies: Complexity creates confusion. With so many avenues to take and so much potential ahead, salespeople need a simple process for creating specific, attainable account strategies so they can stay on course. Keep in mind they must have a clear picture of the customer’s decision-making process first in order to develop realistic and effective strategies for that customer’s unique situation.
- Understanding and Adapting to Buyer Motives: Every stakeholder has different motives, goals and interests. Salespeople who know how to uncover clues about these motives can then adapt their selling approaches to more quickly and effectively influence a buying decision. Not only that, this enables the salesperson to build deeper and broader relationships within an account, relationships that could turn out to be pivotal for increasing sales and maintaining long-term client loyalty.
This strategic approach to account management likely represents a shift from the way your salespeople—and even your sales managers—have had to operate in the past. But it delivers. In working with a variety of leading medical device, biotech and pharmaceutical sales teams, we’ve found that healthcare sales reps who think strategically are consistently able to:
- Increase call effectiveness
- Use their time more efficiently
- Build stronger customer relationships
- Shorten the sales cycle
- Improve closing ratios
Today’s healthcare environment represents uncharted territory for many salespeople. Don’t send them out there without an effective navigation strategy and tools!