on May 17, 2018 Insider 2018 TCX MedTech Innovation

Custom Tailored Sales

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We’ve all been raised in an industry where the theory is that you build an organization’s resources and then you go to market utilizing the strengths of those resources.  This type of thinking assumes that whatever framework was used to build the organization will lead to the greatest success across all customers, regardless of size, geography, or type.  It’s an extrapolation of the Henry Ford perspective of manufacturing where excellence was achieved through the perfection of making one product without deviation.  We now live in the “on-demand” society, where everything from music, movies, books, and worlds of encyclopedic data are just a few clicks away.  Radio stations that previously dictated song choice have largely been replaced by streaming music players that can be set to only play your favorite genres and artists.  The Henry Ford-like sales philosophy had a long run of success, but it will continue to have diminished success as healthcare continues to evolve. 
In today’s world, hospitals are seeking value.  Their goal is to force “commoditization” across all product categories, leaving price as the only differentiator.  This is not only causing rapid margin erosion, but further accelerating product maturities: products are moving through their life cycles faster than ever.  Further, providers are acting more erratically than ever before.  While you may be able to convert an account through tried and true feature and benefit selling on site, the larger hospital across the street makes you go through nine months of value analysis committee torture before even giving you the opportunity to introduce your products to the clinicians on the patient floors.  So, with products maturing faster than ever, and hospitals exhibiting more heterogeneous behaviors than in the past, how is a medtech company able to achieve sustained success today?
Custom tailored sales strategies are the answer.  Medtech sales have evolved into a team sport, where a single sales rep can no longer carry success across an entire territory or region.  They need strong support from their Corporate Account and clinical support teams in order to “win” the territory/region.  But, which one of those three team members needs to step up the most to convert each account will vary provider-by-provider.  Successful companies are already employing different execution models for acute and non-acute providers, but few are customizing their sales efforts for each acute care provider, let alone modifying the team according to the dynamics of the sales bags.  In our on-demand world, customization is the key to success everywhere. 
So how do you customize your sales organization?  First, you need to have an “agile” organization.  One that has less “fixed assets”, instead having more flexible resources, providing you with the ability to scale those resources according to the needs to the specific targeted demand.  Creating a core base of your A-tier sales reps, and giving them larger territories to thrive in, rather than adding a rep into a territory because “that’s the way things were always done” is not a recipe for success today.  What does achieve flexibility is the way those reps are supported by their corporate account and clinical support counterparts.   Providers that have strong institutional governance across supply purchases need less sales rep involvement, while corporate accounts will need to setup the agreements and clinical support will do most of the periodic customer interaction.  Conversely, providers that allow their clinical staff to make most of the purchasing decisions will require a strong field sales and clinical support team presence, with less need for corporate accounts. 
When looking at things from a product-mix perspective, those accounts that primarily purchase legacy, mature products, really need a minimal sales support (one-time per month relationship maintenance) and periodic point of prevalence clinical support follow-ups to ensure strong clinical quality and compliance.   These products may also need to be protected from competitor threats through stronger agreements designed by corporate account teams.  On the flip side, product bags that have mostly emerging technology will need to rely mostly on their field sales team, with strong support from the clinical support teams.  The objective is market penetration, so finding the right mix of opportunities for a sales rep to effectively generate opportunities through continuous relationship building, while allowing the clinical support team to effectively manage the evaluation and implementation processes, will allow for continued pipeline of the customer conversions. 
Having a strong core of field sales reps should be the foundation of a successful custom-tailored sales strategy, but surrounding those sales reps with flexible support resources that can scale according to the customers’ dynamics as well as the makeup of the product mix will yield the most sustainable results.  Clinical support is an abundant resource in healthcare but connecting to the right resources at the right time requires skill. That’s why there’s a need for outside organizations, like The Clinician Exchange, to support those efforts.  
Flexing your strategy according to varying dynamics will not only lead to more effective and sustained sales success, but it will also make your organization more efficient and lead to significant gains in profitability.  When the whole world is shifting to the Amazon-way from the Henry Ford philosophy, shouldn’t we as an industry do the same?  It only makes sense when the resources are available.  The Clinician Exchange makes this all possible. 
Good luck and good selling!
The Clinician Exchange 181 New Road., Parsippany, NJ 07054