In an environment of rapid technological change, new product introductions in the MedTech industry can be puzzling to clinicians and buyers at hospitals, clinics, surgery centers and medical offices. The customer’s world appears to be awash in change creating more questions than answers. “What prompted the change?” “Is my current product deficient in some way?” “Am I at risk if I don’t change?” “Why should I pay more?” “Are you eliminating the product I am using today?” “What price options are available?” As a selling organization, there are times when executives are so focused on their “go to market” timeline that they don’t think through how their product will be received by the buyer. In short, they are guilty of “Ready, Fire, Aim!”

Any successful new MedTech product introduction begins with great marketing preparation. There is ample sales research to support this claim. In world class selling organizations sales and marketing are aligned 92% of the time versus 39% for all respondents and 23% for healthcare.1 This data raises a seminal question: “what is it that great marketing organizations provide to their sales forces that drive revenue growth?”

Great MedTech marketing provides sales with customer insights essential in pursuing new sales opportunities. Marketing programs that are tightly aligned with their counterparts in sales hold 10 keys to unlocking the potential for new MedTech product sales in today’s healthcare milieu. Marketing can:

  • Profile the ideal customer
  • Develop a plan to drive lead generation
  • Identify who buys and who authorizes the release of funds
  • Map the dynamics that drive the buy-sell process
  • Formulate messages around value and differentiation
  • Profile the competition
  • Help elevate the buyer’s sense of urgency
  • Script discussions of risk and liability
  • Explain the logic underlying the pricing model
  • Strengthen the credibility of the ROI model

Who is the Ideal Customer?

Want to ramp up sales quickly? Provide the sales force with a laser focus on where they should hunt. Every sales representative wants to know the demographic and psychographic characteristics that make one healthcare facility a better target than another.

For example, if hospitals are your target, segment them very carefully. Even though there are over 5,000 hospitals in the USA it used to be easy to target them. Marketers could segment them according to their purpose in the community, ownership, size, legal entity or geography. In some case marketers looked at sales potential by looking at the number of procedures that were done in each hospital. With the formation of IDNs, network affiliations and merger and acquisition activity, marketers must consider how the hospital organization is structured today as well as future organizational alignment.

What’s the Plan to Drive Lead Generation?

Marketing needs to outline all of the activities they are using to generate leads such as trade shows, webinars, social media etc. The plan must be comprehensive so that the sales force has confidence that the plan will work and drive lead generation. Additionally, marketing should monitor and measure their activities for effectiveness.

Who Cares & Who Authorizes the Release of Funds?

Fundamental to selling any new product is identifying all of the buying influences that are involved in the purchase of the product, service or solution. This includes identification of third party influencers that are well respected by the internal stakeholders. Equally important is who is the final yes; the one individual that can release the funds. We call this exercise “stakeholder mapping” (click here to download our Stakeholder Mapping EBook).

Most sales representatives are experts in selling to hospital departments (silos) but have more trouble with new buying influences with different titles and job responsibilities. To help the sales force understand each stakeholder, marketing should assemble “buyer personas.” “Personas” are profiles that describe what each buyer values. Buyer personas are a necessity and not a luxury.

What Dynamics Drive the Buy-Sell Process?

Marketers must consider carefully the buying behavior and decision dynamics that underlie purchasing decisions in the healthcare arena. As hospitals shift to pay-for-performance, cost and quality are now paramount. Often committees have replaced the sole influence of physicians and department heads. Buying processes are longer, more complex and heavily influenced by technical specialists.

Most sales organizations have mapped the steps in their selling process. The buying process, however, is the missing element. What is often missing are the steps and actions the buying organization goes through from being uninterested and unaware to interest and eventually to the issuance of a purchase order. Marketing can accelerate the new product introduction by making it easy for the sales representatives to understand how their customers buy

What Messages Convey Value and Differentiate the Solution?

To differentiate is to stand out in a crowded field and to be different in a way that is meaningful to each buyer. Without differentiation, the status quo looks pretty good and there is no reason to consider an alternative product, service or solution. Differentiation must resonate with buyers. Has the selling organization clearly differentiated the product in ways that are concise and compelling for each buyer? Can the sales force articulate the message effectively?

In today’s healthcare market, buyers demand proof of value. Sales is faced with the task of demonstrating value with evidence of improved clinical outcomes or cost avoidance. This is what matters most to hospital buyers.

Is marketing providing compelling value messages with adequate documentation and support? Where is the unbiased evidence, clinical data, case studies of ROI and TCO and testimonials that validate your claim of value?

Where’s the Real Competition?

In every sale there are four competitors: buy from someone else i.e. a direct competitor that has similar technology or capabilities, using the budget for something else, using internal resources or doing nothing.2 Marketing needs to compile scenarios or “playbooks” that will help sales neutralize the status quo or disrupt a competitive position. How does the new product fair against similar competitive solutions.

Why Should Buyers Purchase Now?

Why should the hospital buy the product now? What trigger event is driving the buyer’s interest? Who is experiencing the pain? How important is it to alleviate the pain? Windows of opportunity are only open for limited timeframes. So, why must they buy now?

How Does the Solution Minimize Risk?

For every buying decision, there is the potential for risk. What could go wrong if the buyer purchases or recommends this product? Savvy sellers don’t run away from a risk discussion, they initiate it. Marketing can help sales anticipate issues of risk and proactively address concerns that, left unanswered, may undermine the selling process.

What is the Underlying Logic of the Pricing Model?

The customer expects an answer. Why is there a change in price? What are my options? What are my long-term assurances against price inflation? Sales representatives want to know: Is the list price reasonable for entry or to displace a competitor? Are various pricing options available to the buyer? Sales must be prepared to answer: “How do the clinical benefits of this change in technology justify the resulting cost to our organization?”

Is the ROI Model Appropriate & Credible?

Every company has an ROI model. It’s no secret that most hospital personnel don’t believe the numbers they are shown. Why? Because most models have been developed internally from the seller’s perspective and are not indicative of a hospital’s revenue, expenses and payor mix. In order to be credible, ROI models must be developed in conjunction with hospital personnel. They must include everything that an internal stakeholder would consider and they must be very specific. For example, when a supplier says our new MedTech product will reduce costs, a buyer might question: which ones? Acquisition? Operational? Training? Maintenance? Warehouse? Environmental? Is it a cost reduction or a cost avoidance? Does it impact Total Cost of Ownership (TCO)? If any variable is missing or the default values appear unreasonable then the model will have no credibility.

Parting Thoughts

Before a new MedTech product is introduced an enormous amount of time and money has been spent in concept definition, product development and manufacturing. Marketing should help the sales force accelerate new product sales by providing them with the information required to be successful. Once the product is released, marketing should track and share best practices in real time with tools like Chatter or Jobber. They will appreciate it and sell more, faster.

  1. 2015 Executive Summary of the MHI Global Sales Best Practices Survey
  2. Miller, Robert B. , Heiman, Stephen E. and Tuleja, T. The New Strategic Selling> Business Plus 2005.
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