Thursday, June 25, 2015

Is healthcare consumer or patient engagement the new sales?

The other day I was thinking about how much healthcare has changed in a few brief years and how to, if one can say best way, engage the healthcare consumer and patients?

It dawned on me that healthcare consumer and patient engagement is really a lot like sales. And in all that is being written and experimented with across the healthcare channel regarding engagement, I haven’t seen anyone make a sales model connection.

In the ideal sales model, marketing is more than a group of people “who make things look pretty” and is highly integrated into the sales process.  In turn, marketing doesn’t see sales as “feet on the street” and having nothing of value to bring to the table.

 Marketing’s role is to integrate  and  work closely with sales to understand from a ground level perspective what is going on in the marketplace and respond with campaigns, tactics, events, collateral  etc.,   that support sales in order to generate high value Marketing Qualified Leads (MQLs) which become Sales Accepted Leads (SALs).

Now I am shortchanging the discussion here because a lot of work in relationship building, collaboration, sharing, listening, etc., goes on to get to the above point. That is a topic for another time.

Sales is a complex process in healthcare for the most part that requires significant time to build senor level relationships  that engage, educate, and provides solutions not features and benefits etc. Sales has moved from cold calls, sales demos and qualifying leads to social networks, education and engagement. The sales approach requires a plan of action for each organization and internal contacts that is individually designed and acted upon, that in many ways is consultative in the Miller-Heiman methodology for example.

The end result is a sale of a product or service that meets the customer’s need and solves a problem.  It creates a win-win situation. Sales generates revenue and commission. The client solves a problem which can generate revenue, improve efficiency and effectiveness or even change the competitive landscape.

What does this mean for healthcare providers?

I am sure by now all wondering what the point here is?  The point simply is that the healthcare consumer and patient need to be sold too. That’s right sold too. Many of the current engagement efforts are cookie cutter and rely on past mechanisms like generic informational newsletters, robo-calls etc., that have little understanding of the individual they are aimed at. In essence it’s a lot like the old sales model of cold calling and selling features and benefits not solutions to medical issues, concerns or problems 

Throw enough stuff against the wall and sooner or later some of it will stick.

The only way to successful engage a healthcare consumer or patient, is to understand what their needs are, how you can help them with solutions and answers, communicate with them they way they want and how they want the information. Engagement is about building a consultative relationship that is win-win in nature.  Its’ about selling what the healthcare provider has to offer on an individual basis to the healthcare consumer and patient. 

But what is really lacking in many healthcare providers is the integration of marketing as a collaborative partner in engagement and selling to the healthcare consumer and patient. Marketing needs to be involved from more than “make it look pretty“in healthcare providers to a trusted partner who understands the needs of and responds accordingly to the healthcare consumer or patient.

So back to answering the question, yes healthcare consumer or patent engagement is the new sales. The parallels are many between a consultative sales approach and engaging the healthcare consumer or patient.  Its  healthcare consumer or patient focused which is what many healthcare providers claim.

Easy right? Wrong.  Get outside help for this.  The healthcare provider doesn’t really know how to sell in this way. They never have.\

Tags: #sales, #hcmkt, #hcsm, #engagement, #providers, #marketing, #consulting

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