Monday, October 26, 2015

Can you make your sales efforts to physicians memorable?

Physicians are the lifeblood of many a healthcare organization.  With the focus and attention of the physician determining in large part the success or failure of so many providers and vendors, cutting through the din of messages and relationships can be a daunting task.  So how do you cut through all of the chatter?

The answer is in an integrated collaborative relationship between sales and marketing.

In many ways, one needs to be selling solutions to solve the physician practice challenges that allow them to make money and do what they love, practice medicine. There are some clear goals for your sales relationship with physicians. Help them  to practice medicine more efficiently. Support efforts to measurably improve the quality of care.  Help solve the cost conundrum and be cost effective. Easy to use you for the physician and office staff to use. And the services or sale, when delivered reduces the patient hassle factor by cutting down on complaints, or 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 where everybody's left to their methods. The result, incorrect messaging and using poorly designed home-grown materials. 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 you’re 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 sales advisory committee.  Where most organizations fall is the poor communication and working relationships between the two groups.   It’s time 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.  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, and creating usable, effective collateral.

 5) Let your marketing staff accompany sales on calls and major presentations. They can be a new set of eyes and ears as well as providing them with new perspectives on the difficulties of selling. 

6) Cut down on the number of slides 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 ten slides, you don't know what you are talking about and don't understand your audience. Talking head are boring.

7) Have marketing attend your sales meetings and weekly funnel calls.  It's about relationships and dialogue. Marketing should have a role 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 the consolidation of healthcare providers continue unabated across all channels, physicians will play an exceedingly important role in the revenue opportunities for your organization.  The physician is your partner. Make it memorable.

For more topics and thought leading discussions like this, join Healthcare Marketing Leaders For Change, a LinkedIn Professional Group.

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