Wednesday, May 4, 2011

How Do You Sell to Physicians?

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, cutting through the din of messages and relationships can be a daunting task. So how do you cut through all of the chatter and have marketing and sales work together effectively?

Be the solutions provider!

You are supplying solutions to solve the physician practice challenges by providing data-driven or process solutions to those issues in practicing medicine in today's environment of change. And they must at a minimum, accomplish several things: A) practice medicine more efficiently; B) measurably improve the quality of care; C) assist in generating additional revenue; D) are cost effective; E) easy for the physician and office staff to use; and F) reduce the patient hassle factor by cutting down on complaints, or, as we like to say, increase patient satisfaction.

With that in mind, some basic rules of thumb apply:

1) Your sales people must be using a common sales strategy across the enterprise. I have seen too many organizations (hospitals mostly) 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) 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.

8) Joint marketing and sales goals and objectives should be established. Share in the pain and share in the gain.

9) Constantly evaluate and begin again.

As healthcare reform continues to be implemented and becomes more fully defined, the consolidation of healthcare providers will continue unabated. Physicians will play an exceedingly important role in the revenue opportunities for your organization. The physician is your partner. Ignore them at your own risk.

You can continue the conversation with me on:

For more information, or to discuss you marketing and sales integration needs, you can learn more at my web site the michael J group; email- ; or phone by calling me 815-293-1471.

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