Tips on Selling to the Hospital or Healthcare System C-Suite: Part 2


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 advantages 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.

This is Part 2 of our blog. If you missed Part 1 you can access it here.

Environment & Challenges

  1. The C-Suite always has multiple fires to deal with. Help them put out a fire especially the one they don’t yet know about.
  2. Always remember that your solution may be important but it may not be the most important problem they are dealing with that day. The hospital C-Suite deals with constantly changing priorities.
  3. The Hospital “Cs” are not afraid to make a decision, it’s what they are paid to do. They make the tough decisions but they do seek input from other’s on their team (peers and subordinates). Be sure your strategy involves those people in the process.

Meeting Execution

  1. The hospital C-Suite wants straight talk not fluff. Always tell them the truth and speak in a direct, respectful and honest manner. Don’t be afraid to deliver bad news if it’s warranted. Learn to be a pragmatic and an effective story teller.
  2. During your meeting with a hospital “C” act like “a peer or equal”. Be friendly, empathetic and confident. If you act like a subordinate your influence will not be viewed as contributory. Remember- you got the meeting with the “C” because they wanted it.  Actively listen to ensure that you heard the complete message and then validate what you heard. Bring your knowledge, skills and insight that will have a positive impact on business results or risk mitigation.
  3. The hospital C-Suite is paid to mitigate risk. Be clear and forthright about the risks in using your product, service or solution and show them how your implementation plan will mitigate the risk.
  4. For the Hospital “Cs” a meeting takes time and time is money. This is their currency and they use it wisely. Don’t ever waste their time needlessly. Get to know as much as possible about the executive and their organization before your meeting. Above all get to the point quickly and succinctly.
  5. The hospital C-Suite is in the problem solving business. Bring workable solutions to their problems. Keep the discussions moving forward by focusing on their issues, concerns and their personal stake in the outcome. Your product, service or solution is simply a means to an end.  Continue to introduce new ideas and concepts to affect their business. Be clear, concise and have backup to support your ideas.
  6. Never ask a hospital “C” “the budget.” They won’t tell you! They weren’t born yesterday and they understand that whatever number they give you that your proposal will arrive just under that budget number. Maintain your credibility by not asking for a budget number, it’s not important in this discussion. Hospital “Cs” can create a budget where one does not exist and adjust one that does. Price is just one of many factor’s they evaluate in the decision making process.

Staying There

  1. Once you get to the “C” you want to be able to return. It’s fine to get delegated to work with someone else within their organization but always ask for a return meeting. It’s also important to maintain the open line of communication once you have established your presence.
  2. The best way to stay at the “C” level is to bring proof of your results. Cs love to see metrics that positively impact their goals. Remember they are paid to deliver results. 

Parting Thoughts

Many sales representatives and sales executives don’t make it to the C-Suite. Instead they will be delegated to the Relevant Executive that is responsible for making that specific decision.  In this situation earn the respect and trust of that Relevant Executive and eventually and if warranted they will help you get to the C-Suite.

For other sales representatives and executives following these few suggestions will help you get to the hospital C-Suite, and more importantly stay there.  Keep in mind the hospital C-Suite sees sales representatives every day…they just might not be seeing you.