Archives for March 2018

Healthcare Sales: How Can You Avoid Becoming A Commodity?

The Medtech industry has been undergoing fundamental change over the past few years. In 2015, McKinsey & Company published an insightful article describing a new segment of the consumer market. Physicians and Hospital Administration were beginning to prioritize cost over innovation like never before. Part of the rationale for buying less innovative products came down to group buying decisions. Where no one single physician could sign off on a purchase, there were now levels of hospital administration who had to be convinced. (All of you in the industry know what we’re talking about: The Value Analysis Committee you have to put your product in front of for approval at your local hospital system…)

This segment of the market – what the McKinsey study refers to as “value customers” – has grown significantly since 2015. What was once a small group of private clinics has developed into a general market trend. Here are a couple of changes to the market brought on by these value customers:

A Commodified Sales Process

Manufacturing companies are responding to market conditions by consolidating into larger entities. It is commonplace to see large companies offer every service under the sun for hospitals and surgeons. (You’re seeing this in the market now: Medtronic purchased Covidian, Zimmer buys Biomet, Abbott purchases St. Jude and the list goes on and on.) The irony is that this approach is not responsive to the demands of hospitals, hospital systems, and surgery centers – the value customers described above. Medical institutions are moving towards quantitative testing measures to ensure they get maximum value for their investment. Coupled with small budgets, it means they are not looking to buy an “all-in-one” package. They are looking for individual products that are priced competitively, without any add-ons (Not your “Cadillac” product.)

A Race to the Bottom regarding Price?

A recent study from BCG found that the MedTech industry had “unsustainably high costs” and an old sales approach. BCG analysts predicted that, as the price for MedTech products decreases, companies would need to update their sales infrastructure or risk being priced out of the market. (Think about that for a second: If companies don’t update their sales infrastructure, they are at risk of being priced out of the market. How scary is that for a major medical manufacturer. How many of you are tired of nothing changing in your company’s approach to sales?)

Their predictions have come true. Today, medical manufacturing companies are finding it hard to convince hospitals and physicians that a premium package product is worth it. As a result, manufacturers are looking for any and all possible ways to cut costs and offer their product at a lower price than competitors. The reality is that the market sets the price, and hospitals are looking to cut back on expenses. (You probably see this in your decline in commission right? There are certainly salespeople in Healthcare who make more and more every year, but I’d say that’s the exception to the rule, not the rule. We talk with salespeople all they time who tell us quota is growing exponentially, commissions are going down and what I sold 18 months ago for $6,500 now sells for $4,000. Sound familiar?)

What Does A Salesperson Do In This Volatile Environment?

A follow-up study from BCG found that only those companies who developed a new sales approach are better off today. The top sales reps in the industry have already adapted to this brave new world of shrinking margins. How have they changed? By doing a couple of things:

Conclusion

Finding alternative sales tactics is the only way to persevere through current market conditions. As the McKinsey study of 2015 pointed out, a no-frills sales approach is one of the best ways to incorporate your products into your hospital and surgery center customer accounts.
Ultimately, the selling approach HAS to change. No longer is it acceptable to sell products to customers without providing value beyond the product. If you’d like to learn more about alternative selling strategies and how to bring the most sought-after value to customers visit our website: www.prosellus.com

The Sunshine Act: Only for Reporting? Or Can You Gain Significant Competitive Intelligence?

Medical consultancy has always been a part of the healthcare sales industry. It’s a common means for pharmaceutical, medical device, diagnostic companies, etc., to get products into operating rooms and clinics across the country. A professional relationship is formed between a manufacturer and a physician, who agrees to contribute as a consultant in the development of a new drug or medical device being prepared for the market. The physician agrees to use the product in their practice and advise on what works, and what does not. (or something similar to that example…)

The US Congress initiated legislation, dubbed the Sunshine Act, to shed some light on these relationships. What is the Sunshine Act exactly? And how does it affect the healthcare sales business?
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The Sunshine Act Brings Transparency to the Healthcare Sales Organizations & Physician/Hospital Relationships

The Physicians Sunshine Act came into effect on August 1st, 2013.

“The Sunshine Act requires manufacturers of drugs, medical devices, biological and medical supplies covered by the three federal health care programs Medicare, Medicaid, and State Children’s Health Insurance Program (SCHIP) to collect and track all financial relationships with physicians and teaching hospitals and to report these data to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS).”

The Sunshine Act intends to bring transparency into the sometimes murky relationship between doctors and drug companies. Consumers are empowered by free access to information because now they can see if their physician has any financial relationship with healthcare sales company. It’s not a pleasant feeling when you realize your doctor has been prescribing a new drug to you that he/she just so happens to receive money for speaking about.

Salespeople can also empowered by the information because it allows them to target potential leads with improved accuracy.

The Value of Sunshine Data for Sales Reps

Market insights derived from Sunshine Act Data are incredibly valuable.

It’s the only way you can be sure of potential customer biases. Biases in turn, should inform the strategy you take in approaching the customer.
For example, if you know a large physician target in your sales territory is receiving $500,000 a year in payments from your competitor, you probably want to focus energy elsewhere.

-How often your competitive salesperson is buying lunch/coffee/etc for your target Customer.

-What products are your competitors actually talking about to customers

-What products target physicians are being paid to talk about

-What clinical studies are underway, who the physicians are who are participating

Sometimes 2-3 years before the study is even public
All of this competitive intelligence is at your fingertips, and for the best reps… this is the kind of information your “Rainmakers” absolutely crave!

Access to the Data

One drawback to the implementation of the law is access to the information. The data is stored in a government database and is annoying, if not impossible to retrieve. Consumers who just want to look up their personal physician may not find the navigating the database to be such a hassle – but salespeople who want to use the data for competitive purposes sure do. If you’re looking for one physician and that’s all you want to do, fine. But when you’re a salesperson trying to gather insights about physicians and want to look at a lot of this data, and quickly, the public sites are a non-starter. That’s why we made it easy to access the Sunshine Data from the ProSellus platform.

Conclusion

If you are a healthcare salesperson and you are not benefiting from Sunshine data, you’re in for a treat!

It might be the most critical market insight you’re not taking advantage of – but with ProSellus, the Healthcare non-CRM you can change all of that.

Based on our customer usage behavior, Sunshine Data is the #1 topic researched during the first few months of utilization. Salespeople are confirming their thoughts about physicians or discovering sizeable opportunities in their local market!

At ProSellus, we take pride in breaking down barriers to information and simplifying the research side of Healthcare Sales. Having access to all of the information you ever wanted about customers and potential customers in one easy mobile solution.

To learn more about ProSellus or if you’d like to talk about the Sunshine Date please don’t hesitate to check us out at blog.prosellus.com or reach out to me directly at scottwalle@prosellus.com .

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The Role of Salespeople in Surgery – To Have or To Have Not

Most people don’t realize it, but medical device salespeople attend A LOT of surgeries. A regular day for a medical device salesperson might include starting the day with 3 surgeries, having a business meeting during lunch, making a few sales calls and then finishing the day in the operating room again. They often accompany surgeons in the operating room to observe the utilization of their product and in lots of cases provide technical expertise about their product and the specific application the physician is utilizing it for.

Most importantly, they can provide insight into the application of the product itself. What many outsiders don’t understand is this: Surgeons may be the person performing this specific surgery for the 100th time, but the salesperson (depending on their time in the field) may be seeing this surgery for the 10,000th time, and surgeons WANT that expertise in the room.
There is much debate about the future role of salespeople in the operating room.
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On one side of the debate are those who advocate for the removal of salespeople from the OR entirely. They argue that a sales rep should only be responsible for selling the products to a physician, not for advising them on how to use it during the actual surgery, or providing technical assistance. Many hospitals administrators, surgeons and staff take this position citing ethical, safety, and cost issues.
On the other side of the debate are those who defend the role of a salesperson advisor in the surgical suite.
This argument is often taken up by some of the same people who argue against it: surgeons, clinical staff and no doubt the medical device manufacturers (well, today the device manufacturer’s make this argument, let’s see what tomorrow brings…) who argue that clinical salespeople are the most qualified to offer assistance in the OR. And in many cases (I’ve literally been here to see this), physicians will challenge Hospital Administration and tell them (and I quote), “My sales rep IS coming into my case. Your staff simply doesn’t have the expertise required for this case. You (the Administrators) are literally putting the patient in harms way by NOT allowing the sales rep in the case.” Obviously… a hot topic.
Since it is unclear which direction the industry will go, we are presented with a great opportunity to look critically at the merits of each argument.

The Case for Sales Reps in the Surgical Suite

There is no question attending surgeries is an integral part of the salesperson experience. Every operation is different, and every surgeon has a different approach to performing surgery. As such, the only way for a salesperson to understand the skill-set of the customer and provide support is by the first-hand experience.
Some of the benefits include:
● A Safer Surgical Experience. The surgeon does benefit from the insight of the sales person. Often the surgical device is complex, technical and isn’t a one-size-fits-all type of thing. A surgeon without prior experience with the device will almost always conduct a safer surgery with skilled-based advice from the sales person. After all, it’s not like salespeople are in there to only talk about how awesome their product is! (That’s usually the thing they talk about least IN the actual surgical suite.) ● Improved Customer Relations. The salesperson can track pain points with the product and also note individual differences in approach unique to each surgeon. (this is commonly referred to as their preference sheet) Attending surgeries is an incredibly valuable opportunity to build trust with a physician and develop a stronger, more insightful, customer relationships.

The Case Against Sales Reps in the Surgical Suite

Despite the apparent benefits of having the salesperson present in the surgical room, there are some drawbacks:
● Sales Reps are Under-Qualified. Some doctors, administrators and staff question whether sales reps are qualified enough to be advising how to perform surgery. This reluctance has been backed up by some initial research, but the findings are far from conclusive. Again, the fact is that salespeople are more than qualified when it comes to the functionality of the product. (This is where being a commoditized product really hurts the salesperson’s argument of being in the OR) ● Cheaper Prices for Surgery. The cost of surgical implants/disposables/products/etc includes the cost of providing a salesperson. (Literally, if the company didn’t have to pay the salesperson the products could be sold cheaper.) For hospitals looking to cut expenses, this is one of the most accessible expenses to eliminate. The hospital may believe attempting to go “RepLess” may provide that cost-savings they’re looking for. Training one in-house specialist is cheaper than paying a higher rate for products because the salesperson is included.

Sales Reps Need to Expand their Repertoire to Thrive

No matter which direction the industry goes on this question, the message for salespeople is the same and is clear. To survive and thrive in this industry, you need to expand your repertoire.
If you are a salesperson and only do clinical cases today and are reluctant to get out of the OR, be aware: your days are more than likely numbered. The Alpha’s of the industry are getting themselves out of the OR and providing significant value to the customer. They saw this trend several years ago and changed their game. You may want to consider that as well.
Many have come to ProSellus to change their game.
They needed to explore non-traditional selling strategies and value production for customers. They needed to get out-of-the-box to ensure their chair wasn’t filled during the duck-duck-goose of contract negotiations…
Do whatever it takes to ensure that your livelihood is not in jeopardy if hospitals begin changing their strategy. Trust us, we’ve had numerous companies who provide RepLess support to hospitals wanting to make the change. The #1 reason they tell us hospitals are willing to dump the reps: They simply don’t bring enough value outside of the OR.
To learn more about ProSellus and how we help reps excel check out our website at blog.prosellus.com
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Medical Device Sales: How to Stay as a Top Performer

The medical device industry is one of the most profitable industries there is when it comes to sales rep incomes.

A survey from several years ago found that Health IT/Software reps in the medical device industry have the highest salary at $176,012, followed by Biotechnology ($162,544) and Medical or Surgical Device reps ($159,130).

If you’ve been in the industry for any length of time, you’ll know that many salespeople can make much more than the numbers above. But not all sales reps do so well.

With changing territories every year, new competitors entering the market at a rapid pace, and no real switching costs for physicians or hospitals, how do the top reps stay on form?

Efficiency is Key!

One of the most important pieces to the puzzle of being successful in sales is organization and efficiency. You only have so much time in each day to build towards a sale, and you have a time limit to meet your sales goals.

So, the pressure of time is real. Plenty of studies have been done showing that list-making helps people perform better and be more productive. A top sales rep knows the power of a great list and builds their entire day around it (ProSellus does this for you too!).

As you’re probably guessing, a list can take on many forms, shapes and sizes. If you’re old-school, your list may be a simple as a pencil and paper. However, with all of the technology floating around today, if you’re still utilizing a pencil and paper, you’re really missing the mark!

Rely on Excellent Physician Targeting (ProSellus does this for you!)

Top sales reps don’t rely on a simple healthcare CRM to build a client base. They need more than a static list of contacts to reach their ambitious monthly sales targets, and a traditional CRM simply cannot offer such insight.

The top salespeople in this industry are cross-referencing the Sunshine Act Data (Open Payments) or physician prescribing data to determine if their physician or even target physician’s are consultants for their competitors.

These top reps dig through that pretty cool thing called the “world-wide-web” tirelessly to investigate and find as much information possible about potential target docs or competitive physicians.

The salespeople who are aggregating all of this information on their own are the guys and girls who work late into the night or are early risers, many of them work on the weekends just researching, but we all know they are the minority. But… this is a significant competitive advantage they provide and their physician customers notice.

But this is the 21st century… there’s gotta’ be an easier way. Right?

Know Your Product In-and-Out

I can’t express how important it is to have a strategy. Many salespeople in the medical device industry simply glaze over when their manager asks for a business plan for the year. Folks, this is your opportunity to show how you’re different! This is your opportunity to show how your mind REALLY works.

The best reps combine “List Making” and Strategy to show how they’re going to crush the new quota.

Make Strong Personal Relationships with Multiple Stakeholders (But Especially Physicians)

Nothing beats the personal touch – especially when it comes to a sales rep and physician. A study out of Sweden on the US medical device industry found that physicians were the most influential player in purchasing decisions made by hospitals. They are followed closely by Director of Materials Management and Management Director of Surgical Services. The onus is on the sales rep to make a personal bond with physicians at key hospitals and leverage their support in negotiations with other stakeholders.

The same study pointed out that more hospitals are hiring procurement personnel to help find and purchase products to fulfill specific needs. A sales rep at the top of their game will have strong relationships with the procurement team as well as the physicians, managing directors, and distributors.

As the industry changes more and more, we all see how physicians don’t pack quite the punch they use to when it comes to influencing decisions at the purchasing level. With that being said, if you’ve found yourself in a purchasing process and your doc literally has zero say-so… you may want to revisit the “List” you put together and your strategy. You’re probably working with the wrong doc.

Building your list, creating the strategy and developing key relationships are some of the most important things to do year in and year out in order to stay on top in Medical Device Sales.
Following these guiding principles should serve you well in the quest to become a top earner in your product market.

If you’d like to learn more about creating strategies, or how to make those ever-important lists in second instead of hours check out ProSellus at www.prosellus.com