In today’s’ rapidly changing healthcare environment, every sales representative wants to develop a relationship with key hospital C-Suite executives. In some cases it’s to protect the existing business against a competitive threat, while in others, it’s to manage a new opportunity where C-Suite buy-in is paramount to success. Ensuring that the C-Suite members embrace the supplier’s value proposition, will provide significant advantage in the highly competitive healthcare marketplace.
The harsh reality is that unless you are a supplier in the top 20% of the hospitals annual dollar spend or you have a very unique value proposition, the chances are slim that you will gain access to this influential group. In order to increase your chances of getting an audience with the hospital C-Suite, here are a few tips that will help increase the probability of an introduction to this special club.
- In every hospital the “Cs” are responsible for ensuring that accurate, timely, safe and clinically appropriate, quality care is delivered in the most cost effective manner for their patients. These Cs are very business savvy so if you are calling on them you need to possess great hospital business acumen. Through reading the books, newspapers and trade magazines that are routine for C-suite executives, you will begin to gain insight into the real-world complexities that they confront on a daily basis. It’s also important to attend key industry events, seminars and workshops that contribute to expanding industry knowledge. Understand their world inside and out. Through active participation and continued technical and business growth, you can become a trusted resource.
- Speak the language of the hospital C-Suite. On a macro level its strategy, change, impact and results. For a CFO its ROI, NPV and IRR. For Operations it’s technology, supply chain management and infrastructure. For nursing leaders the re-admission rate, patient satisfaction number, and patient safety are examples.
- Before you meet with a hospital “C “review their mission, vision and goals, and organizational structure. Is the hospital a For-Profit or Not-for-Profit hospital, what is their payer mix, current financial condition, key pain points and success metrics? These are the basics and you must do your homework by conducting thorough research before your meeting.
- The hospital Cs deal with facts, not impressions and theories. They want solid information that provides keen insight into their leadership imperatives. Be prepared to contribute to the equation. By all means, don’t go to the Cs office with a solution looking for a problem.
Getting the Appointment
- If you want to sell to the hospital C-Suite, get to know their circle of associate’s, peers and support teams. This list can include other hospital Cs, and their direct reports, investors, board members, physician leaders and foundation partners don’t be afraid to ask for referrals…they work. If you sell a service this is the primary means for the Cs to learn about you.
- Get to know their administrative associates. Behind every great leader is a great assistant. While they are often affectionately called “gatekeepers” they all have a unique relationship with the leaders and can get you “in” or they can keep you “out”. Treat them with the same dignity and respect as you would “C”. Enlighten the associate on your value proposition and how it will help the “C” fix a problem and effectively address a critical issue. They know the problems the “C” is working on and their job is to help contribute to the solution. Treat them professionally and she/he will help you get an appointment or direct you to someone who owns the issue.
- The hospital C-Suite starts work early and they stay late. They attend meeting after meeting. They get hundreds of E-mails and dozens of telephone calls every day- most requesting just a few minutes of their time. Dinner meetings are not uncommon. Unless you know them or have been referred by a peer, key physician or subordinate that they have a high degree of respect for don’t expect a fast response. In other words leverage all of your relationships to get an appointment. They are just too busy to respond to every request.
Next week in Part 2 of this blog we will discuss the “Hospital Cs” environment and challenges, meeting execution, staying at the “C” level and parting thoughts.