Physicians are the lifeblood of many a healthcare organization. As competition increases for their attention whether it be a hospital, specialty pharmacy, medical device manufacturer, or pharmaceutical company to name a few, cutting through the din of messages and relationships can be a daunting task.
For hospitals failure to build successful relationships and sales strategies mean that your docs could admit patients elsewhere. Note to hospitals: If you are not selling to docs, then you're missing a great opportunity to build volume by creating a more committed medical staff than if you just doing "relations or liaison" activities. You can sell legally and effectively if you know what you are doing.
For medical device manufacturers, failure to sell the doc mean a more difficult time selling your product into the venue where the physician practices medicine.
For specialty pharmacies, the physician sends his or her patients elsewhere.
So how do you cut through all of the chatter and have marketing and sales work together effectively?
No magic answers here.
No pixie dust either.
But here are 10 rules of thumb for moving forward:
1) Your sales people must be using a common sales strategy across the enterprise. I have seen too many organizations where everybody's left to their own methods resulting in incorrect messaging and using poorly designed home-grown materials which could have some significant legal repercussions for the organization. Your sales force activities are about relationship selling and acting as the liaison for the physician to your organization. If you don't have a method and training, chances are you will not be as effective as your competition.
2) Use a sales database system to collect information and the marketing department needs to have full access. If your just starting to look at one, marketing needs to be at that table. Don't assume that sales or IT knows what marketing needs. They don't. Systems breed accountability on all sides of the ledger.
3) Create an interdisciplinary marketing and sales advisory committee. Where most organizations fall down is the poor communication and working relationships between sales and marketing. You have to get past the "the feet on the street" don't deliver the brand messages and promise in the right way, and all that marketing is good for is creating stuff, because I need more stuff to leave behind attitudes.
4) Train your marketing department in the sale approach that your sales people are using. This way marketing begins to understand the opportunities and challenges faced, and how your sales staff is trained to overcome them. This means that all marketing materials should be created to be applicable and useful at some point in the sales cycle. It's all about shortening the sales cycle. Effective materials will assist in that goal.
5) Let your marketing people go out on sales calls and major presentations. They can be a new set of eyes and ears as well as providing them with new perspectives on how difficult the job is. Insights from other areas will make you a stronger organization.
6) Cut down on the number of slide you use for presentations. An 80 page slide deck is all about you and nothing about your potential customer. If you have to use more than 10 slides, you don't know what you are talking about and don't understand your audience. Talking head are boring.
7) Marketing departments need to see what sales people have created for use in their markets. Sales people are creative and resourceful. You may find some useful material to use and distribute across the entire organizations.
8) Have marketing attend you sales meetings and weekly funnel calls. It's about relationships and dialogue. Marketing should have a roll in explaining the organizational strategy, and what they are doing to generate meaningful leads for sales to follow-up on.
9) Joint marketing and sales goals and objectives should be established. Share in the pain and share in the gain.
10) Constantly evaluate and begin again.
Michael Krivich is Fellow, American College of Healthcare Executives and a Professional Certified Marketer, American Marketing Association and can be reached at email@example.com or 815-293-1471 for consulting services in strategic marketing, media relations and interim marketing executive leadership assignments. Huthwaite SPIN selling trained and a Miller Heiman Strategic Selling alumni, both highly respected and successful international sales training organizations , I can lead your organization though the challenge of integrating sales and marketing.