As provider markets for health care for vendors continue to consolidate through merger, acquisition, liquidation or disintermediation, there is one clear outcome. Fewer providers mean heightened competition with the hospital or health system becoming more in control of the buying process than vendors can manipulate during the sales process.
It’s a new way of thinking and marketing for growth, and that is why the evolution of the successful vendor moves in a better direction that is more customer-focused and responsive to their needs.
Customer Buyer Journey
In this environment, companies can lose meaningful differentiation along products and services. Take population health firms for example. In essence, all population health solutions do the same thing. How they do it is different with variations on features and benefits across the continuum of population health, but still at its most basic level are substantially the same.
Of course, brand reputation can be a powerful influencer but where some vendors struggle is when they don’t have a considerable brand reputation or more than basic customer understanding. Just because you have developed personas doesn’t mean that you fully understand the customer or their buying journey.
Now that being said, this discussion is not for the highly successful vendors that are already using buyer’s maps and building customer evangelists along the way. Sales and marketing are highly integrated, and leadership has set the strategy, vision and executes on a nonnegotiable customer-first strategy.
The change that is required?
The requirement is to move from an overreliance on features and benefits marketing to an organizational customer focused culture and strategy. The sales and marketing operation becomes highly integrated and a shift to inbound marketing and sales providing the content within the right contextual framework at exactly the right time in the customer's buying journey takes place.
Influencing the costumer’s journey is about highly effective marketing.
When marketing and sales jointly understand the buying processes, then marketing becomes far more useful. Marketing moves from the funnel approach of filling the top of the funnel for sales with MQLs in the hopes that they will become SALs and not waste sales time, to a defined process that enhances sales success.
Creating a buyers map takes time and resources. Let me be clear that this is some heavy lifting needing to happen. No shortcuts are allowed.
There are many different ways to map and a search on the IoT will provide one with all the templates necessary. But at a minimum, the following information is essential to the process and understanding coming from multiple sources. Some are marketing. Some are sales. And some are sales and marketing. Keep a singular focus as one gathers information on the buyer stages of Awareness, Consideration, and Decision.
1. Initial moments that lead to the first contact.
2 . Process steps the buyers take and conversations they engage in to find solutions.
3. The flow of the process steps and experiences leading up to purchase.
4. Items associated with purchase and consumption
5. Ongoing experience and reactions to the purchase
After all, the companies in your vendor vertical that are successful are in a great measure due to understanding the Customer Buyers Journey. They successfully sell, cross-sell, and up-sell in greater amounts than you with the right content, at the right time, in the right context. And that only comes from an understanding of the Customers Buyers Journey.
And simply put, that is why you are losing in the market.
Michael is an internationally followed healthcare blogger, business, marketing, and communications strategy thought leader.
For more topics and thought leading discussions like this, join Healthcare Marketing Leaders For Change, a LinkedIn Professional Group.