Selling to Hospitals Blog

BuildCentral has partnered with Strategic Dynamics to publish insights and trends into the complex process of selling to hospitals. Read the latest blogs below and discover how to make more and faster sales.

October 31, 2017

Beating the Elephant in the Room & Winning with the Hospital Value Analysis Committee!

The good news is your product is going to be placed before the Value Analysis Committee (VAC) for consideration of purchase. You are one step closer to getting the business that you covet. The key now is to ensure that the VAC approves your product. Here is a simple ten (10)-­‐step process to assist your selling efforts and ensure there isn’t an elephant in the room to stop you. [continue]

July 11, 2017

What Hospital Sales Reps Need from Marketing in a Value Analysis Committee Toolkit By: Thomas J. Williams and Glen Hall

Time and time again we see organizations trying to win with Value Analysis Committees (VAC) by thinking inappropriately. They arm their field sales force with information that is helpful but not particularly useful or focused towards the needs of the stakeholders on the VAC. [continue]

May 3, 2017

Understanding the Steps in the Hospital Value Analysis Process

For most sales professionals navigating the Hospitals Value Analysis Committee (VAC) is like trying to walk through a minefield. You don't want to get blown -­‐up and you want to survive (win). Before you can win with the VAC you must understand how a VAC operates. Understanding the steps in their process positions you to adjust your strategy accordingly. [continue]

April 4, 2017

I Want This Product Why Do I Need to Complete a Value Analysis Form?

You have heard this story before. You have this exciting new product. You know your surgeons (or insert key stakeholder here) will love it. For some time now you have been telling them it's coming, extolling its virtues and planting the seeds for why they will want to see and use the product when its available. The product is now released and you have a quota for selling it. You know your management team is watching to see who sells it quickly and who doesn't. Your feeling some mild pressure but you are also exuberant because you think the product has a huge potential in your territory. You even know which surgeons (or other stakeholders) you will target first for sales. The challenge facing you? Getting the product through the Value Analysis Committee (VAC). [continue]

March 10, 2017

Where Hospital Value Analysis Committees Seek Possibilities for Change

Every hospital uses tens of thousands of individual items to provide clinical services to their patients. These products differ in function, use, size, purpose, complexity, packaging, ease of use and price. Oftentimes, products are used because they were introduced by a champion that preferred the item; others had clinical evidence that supported their use, some were the lowest price, some were bundled with other offerings and sometimes the products purchased were the most convenient in terms of price, terms and delivery at the time of purchase. [continue]

February 28, 2017

Opinion Leaders That Are Influencing Your Hospital Buyers Purchase Decisions

They are often behind the scenes and observable to only their client...the hospital stakeholder. They often only surface to the sales representative late in the buying process but they are a presence in many of the hospital purchase decisions taking place today. They are third party influencers who don't sell a product that competes with yours. Instead they sell knowledge and insight, verify clinical evidence, and offer price benchmark comparisons. Here are some examples of organizations (and their areas of expertise) you should know about depending upon the product or service that you sell to hospitals today. If they are involved in the purchase of your product or service you or someone in your organization needs to be aware of their presence, influence, opinion of your product or service and their connection to which stakeholder. [continue]

February 15, 2017

Ten Dreaded Words Every Hospital Sales Rep Hates to Hear!

The words "Your Product Must Go Through the Hospital Value Analysis Committee!" creates angst and anxiety in most hospital sales representatives and fear and paranoia in others. Why? Because everyone knows the sales cycle just got longer and a lot more complicated. To avoid consternation, however, we would like to offer some practical advice that's better than wine or whiskey and a whole lot healthier. This will be the first of six different blogs on Value Analysis Committees that we hope our readers will find useful. [continue]

January 19, 2017

Hospital Business Acumen: 16 Procurement Terms to Know

Is Strategic Procurement, Strategic Sourcing, Materials Management or Purchasing a call point for you? If it is, how well do you know their business language? Being able to communicate effectively with buyers using their vernacular is paramount to establishing credibility, having meaningful conversations and creating a win-­‐win relationship. [continue]

December 14, 2016

What is a Hospital? It Depends Upon Your Perspective! By Thomas J. Williams & Heather I. Williams

It's not a trick question but it is a very simple question. Based upon your perspective the question can be answered very differently. Some of the answers may surprise you. Let's look at some examples: [continue]

November 29, 2016

How Hospital Leadership Defines Value from Their Suppliers

In today's healthcare sales milieu MedTech sellers must transition from being a supplier to being a partner with their hospital customers. The new normal is collaboration to drive better patient outcomes while reducing costs. [continue]

October 25, 2016

Hospital Business Acumen-­‐ "FIVE MORE" Healthcare Terms You Should Know!

This blog is a follow-­up to one we published several weeks ago in which we posed the question "Are you becoming lost in the vast array of new healthcare terms, acronyms and abbreviations that have been introduced and bantered around"? if yes, don't be alarmed! This is one of the challenges that sales professionals face in today's market. For specialty sales representatives many of these new terms, and acronyms relate to the specific product or service they sell. [continue]

October 3, 2016

Getting Inside the Black Box: Harsh Realities of Selling to a Committee

"Committees" are the mysterious black boxes of the sales universe. Sellers often assume they know what's inside the box only to find that it was not at all what they suspected. The word "committee" is often used to cloak a buying process in secrecy. One individual's "committee" is another's team or group. When executives are questioned about how they are going to render a buying decision you may hear some of the following organizational double-­‐speak. [continue]

September 19, 2016

Lost & Found: Finding Who Cares & Who Pays

As buying processes become more complex, sellers find it increasingly difficult to identify all of the stakeholders and buying influences. There are two over-­‐riding reasons. First, the seller never bothered to "map" the buying process in the target organization. Without that vital information, it's difficult to appreciate how multi-­‐ layered a buying process can become. Often sales representatives assume that the buying process for one product is the same for other products. That assumption can lead sellers in the wrong direction wasting valuable time on people who have little on no impact on the buying decision. [continue]

July 18, 2016

Do You Know the KPIs of the Operating Room?

Improving or maintaining operating room efficiency is a goal for every hospital. If you sell a product and/or service into the Operating Room (OR) and can help them improve their efficiency you will be regarded as a trusted advisor and not a supplier that can be commoditized. Impacting OR efficiency requires every sales professional to understand how the OR measures it. With that knowledge they can connect how their product or service can provide measurable value that impacts key performance indicators (KPIs) that are seen at the OR Department level and within the C-­‐Suite. One of the main reasons many hospitals are going rep-­‐less in their ORs is because they have not been shown a measurable value that resonates with all the various stakeholders. [continue]

June 28, 2016

Hospital Sales 101: I Never Saw It Coming!

It's the 27th of June and the hospital's fiscal year ends at the end of December. You have completed the trial and the product worked flawlessly. All the clinicians loved it and the feedback from all three shifts was better than expected. Another plus is that you have critical support from all of the key physicians. The Biomedical Engineering and Information Technology folks were initial detractors but now they have voiced their approval on the solution. You even caught a break. Since this is a re-­‐order of existing capital equipment that has already been authorized by the Value Analysis Committee it does not have to go back through the process. [continue]

June 20, 2016

Within the Hospital: Who Cares & Who Pays?

In every sale of a product or service to a hospital, there are two fundamental questions that must be answered. They are: Who Cares and Who Pays?
Who Cares is a list of all of the stakeholders that are involved in the purchase decision. Savvy sales professionals know that it's fundamental to make a comprehensive list of these individuals by developing a stakeholder wheel (sometimes called stakeholder mapping) or something similar. [continue]

June 8, 2016

Sales Call Check List: What Every Seller Should Consider Before a Call!

Skilled and successful sales professionals recognize the importance of call planning in conducting an effective sales meeting. How many times have you left a meeting only to realize that you didn't get the information, commitment or action anticipated? Today's buying influences expect sellers to be professionals who can manage a meeting, focus on the buyer's needs, and provide insight. [continue]

May 6, 2016

Lesson Learned from a Sales Autopsy

Recently we had an interesting conversation with Ben, a very frustrated medical device sales representative. Ben has been a top 5% performer for his firm (Origin) in each of the last five years. He has exceeded quotas every year and consistently outsold his competitors. Origin competes against several companies that offer similar services. Further, Origin has continued to chip away at companies who have resisted outsourcing services in favor of an "in house" solution. [continue]

April 27, 2016

How Hospitals Are Innovating to Remain Relevant!

If you sell to hospitals, you see every day how they are changing, adapting and morphing to adapt to bundled payments, population health, improving patient satisfaction scores, increasing consumer demands and the explosion of competition from retail pharmacies and others. [continue]

April 11, 2016

The Hospital OR: Should They Go Rep-­‐Less?

As hospitals transition from a fee-­‐for-­‐service payment model to a world of value-­‐based purchasing, accountable care, aligned incentives and bundled payments there is continued pressure to reduce costs while maintaining or improving the quality of care. Professional buyers and Value Analysis Committees are leading the cost saving charge because every dollar saved drops straight through to the bottom line of the hospital or health system. [continue]

April 4, 2016

Partnering with Procurement: Five Steps to Building Buy-­‐Sell Collaboration

All too often sellers view Procurement staff as the dark forces that obstruct the selling process. They are the "black ats" that delay or stop sales. They are the commandoes of commoditization. Some sellers subscribe to the belief that Procurement is obsessed with price discounts and turns a "blind eye" to obvious product value. Consider setting side this arcane misperception of today's Procurement executive and replace it with a strategy that builds an environment of collaboration. Partner! Don't polarize! [continue]

March 21, 2016

9 Reasons Why Cross-­‐Selling Programs Fail By Tom

The Story of Cross - Selling Gone Wrong. A couple of years ago, we were working with a company in the medical device industry that had acquired two smaller device manufacturers. Nothing new or unusual about that; it is all part of on-­‐going consolidation in the healthcare sector. What was troublesome was their efforts at building an integrated cross-­‐selling plan. [continue]

February 10, 2016

10 "Best Practices" Sales Representatives Should Consider When Planning That "Big" Presentation

Sales representatives give presentations all the time. They can range from a fifteen-­‐ minute Q & A to a multi-­‐hour comprehensive review of a company's response to an RFP. There are decades of books, programs, videos, articles and chapters on conducting an effective sales presentation. Unfortunately, most sales representatives build a comfort zone around a PowerPoint presentation and replicate that "safe" presentation for every sales opportunity. [continue]

February 4, 2016

Will the Sales Representative in the Operating Room Become Extinct?

Few patients that go in for spine, hip or knee replacement surgery realize that a sales representative is often present to provide technical assistance to the surgeon during the procedure. This is a practice that has been prevalent for decades and has traditionally provided great value to hospitals and surgeons but is now under fire from several start-­‐up organizations and selected hospitals that have embraced a rep-­‐less model that eliminates the sales representative from the Operating Room (OR) and replaces them with hospital or out-­‐sourced personnel. Is this a trend or a niche market? Here are the facts. [continue]

January 25, 2016

Changes We Would Like to See in Healthcare in 2016

1. Provide true price transparency for in patient hospital care. Price transparency initiatives are being pushed from the federal government, state governments, employers, consumers, and other stakeholders. [continue]

January 12, 2016

Selling in 2016—Is It Time to Get Back to Basics!

If you are a sales executive and you find yourself telling your team to sell more in 2016, you may want to rethink your strategy. The New Year is often filled with excitement, hope and hype-­‐ especially at annual sales meetings. It may be time to take a step back and look at the New Year through the lens of your front-­‐line sales professionals and see the challenges through their eyes. Here are several interesting facts and perceptions for you to ponder:[continue]

December 14, 2015

Understanding Hospital Charges, Costs and Payments By Thomas Williams & Tom Saine

If you or a family member have ever been admitted to a hospital or if you sell to hospitals within the USA understanding their charges, costs and payments can be a bit daunting. Hopefully this blog will help to ease the pain and provide a greater level of understanding.[continue]

November 30, 2015

What Is a "Green Field" Sales Strategy?

In many regards, account managers—especially those charged with managing large, revenue generating account teams—have to adopt two very different mindsets. On one hand, they must develop a powerful defensive strategy to insure the competition doesn't gain a foothold that compromises existing business. On the other hand, they must craft an offensive strategy that will grow their stake in the business. While many account managers, strive for incremental growth year-over-year, the very best managers are obsessed with developing a powerful green field strategy that will expand significantly their portfolio of products and services.[continue]

November 16, 2015

Strategic Account Management: Rebuilding a Poor Customer Relationship

Recently we were conducting a sales workshop on selling to strategic accounts. During one of the breaks a participants (Ken) asked us to have lunch with him so that he could discuss an account problem and gain our insight.[continue]

November 9, 2015

12 Ways Hospital Buyer Behavior is Changing! Part 2

This is Part 2 of our blog that discusses 12 Ways that Hospital Buying Behavior is Changing. If you missed Part 1 Click here http://bit.ly/1l3Hx4t and the link will take you to the article. In Part 1 we discussed the Power Shift to Sophisticated Buying, Analytics & Revenue Cycle Management, Demand Management, Further Supplier Consolidation, Self-­‐Contracting and Price Transparency. This week we will discuss six additional reasons hospital buying behavior is changing.[continue]

November 2, 2015

12 Ways Hospital Buyer Behavior is Changing! Part 1

Remember the good old days when you could walk into a hospital and go to a specific department without a vendor credential or signing in with procurement? When physician preference mattered? When department heads or service line directors could cut a PO or sign a lease agreement? When maverick buying prevailed? Well those days are largely gone and simply reminders of how hospital buying behavior has changed..[continue]

October 26, 2015

My Company's Cross Selling Program is Driving Me Crazy!

In healthcare and many other industries, consolidation of competitors (i.e., mergers and acquisitions) has made cross-selling a logical strategy for driving growth and improving sales productivity. Even within organizations, companies have implemented cross-selling efforts to introduce new products and expand their footprint within an existing customer base.[continue]

October 19, 2015

Selling to Healthcare Organizations: How Customer Centric Are You Really?

Most senior sales executives and sales professionals will tell you their organization is customer centric. Many will draw you a diagram to show you the intricate ways in which they interface with their customers. Others will show you an elaborate slide with the customer at the center of their organization's universe. Some will provide you example after example that illustrates how they (implied their organization) have placed the customer as their focal point in ensuring customer satisfaction and loyalty.[continue]

October 12, 2015

Do the Questions Asked in a Sales Call Make You Memorable or Forgettable?

Recently we had the opportunity to lead a round table discussion with several sales professionals from diverse industries. One of the questions we posed to them was "Do the questions Sellers ask a Buyer during a sales call differentiate them?" In other words, does the questioning process alter a Buyer's perception of the Seller?[continue]

October 5, 2015

Message from the Front: Best Practices for Handling Price Demands in Healthcare Negotiations

Over the last several years, we have had the opportunity to work with a number of companies servicing the healthcare industry. While our discussions with sales managers and executives have spanned a broad range of topics, one of the most frequently asked questions is: "What guidance can you give our frontline sales representatives when faced with demands for price discounts or concessions?"[continue]

September 15, 2015

10 Things You May Not Know About the Operating Room: Part 2

Have you ever wondered about the function and operation of an Operating Room (OR)? Unless you are a sales representative that routinely sells into the Operating Room or are a health care worker working within the Operating Room, you may be unaware of what actually occurs within this very unique environment. Here is our Top 10 List of what patients, other hospital personnel, sales representatives that sell into other areas of the hospital and interested individuals may want to know about the surgical milieu. Last week in Part 1 of this blog we shared with you the OR environment. This week in Part 2 we will discuss the OR function and operation.[continue]

September 10, 2015

10 Things You May Not Know About the Operating Room: Part 1

Have you ever wondered about the function and operation of an Operating Room (OR)? Unless you are a sales representative that routinely sells into the Operating Room or are a health care worker working within the Operating Room, you may be unaware of what actually occurs within this very unique environment. Here is our Top 10 List of what patients, other hospital personnel, sales representatives that sell into other areas of the hospital and interested individuals may want to know about the surgical milieu.[continue]

September 7, 2015

Hospital Business Acumen: Understanding Hospital Metrics

It's no secret that sales professionals have to deliver value to their customers. Everyone is talking about it. Before you can deliver value, however, you must understand what metrics are important to hospital personnel so that you can tailor your message to impact a key performance indicator (KPI) that is being measured today. Here some things sales professionals need to know.[continue]

August 30, 2015

Have You Heard the One About the Sales VP Who Went In for an Eye Exam?

A friend tells a story that may seem familiar to many of us. Several years ago—before GPS systems were commonplace--he was traveling by car with one of his sales representatives to visit an important customer. Although our friend had been to the account on numerous occasions, it had been several years and the landscape had changed. He was trying to read street signs and became alarmed to find that his vision was blurred. When he returned home he hastily scheduled a visit with an eye doctor to determine the problem. The doctor gave him a thorough eye examination and delivered the bad news: "I hate to tell you this...but you're suffering from a disease for which there is no cure. You're aging. I can't cure it but I can offer a temporary remedy. How about a pair of glasses?" Once our friend got his new glasses, he remarked, "It's amazing what I've been missing."[continue]

August 20, 2015

5 Emerging Trends MedTech Sales Reps Should Watch Carefully

It used to be easy. Hospitals were where we went for emergency care, certain types of surgeries, for labor and delivery or for in-patient treatment of acute or chronic disease. Hospitals were also easy to find because they had the word "hospital" incorporated with their name[continue]

August 16, 2015

10 Deadly Sins in B-B Sales

Recently we had an opportunity to have a dinner meeting with several successful Vice Presidents of Sales in the MedTech industry. While none of them compete with each other, each manages a sales organization that excels in their industry and has the sales results to prove it. We asked them what pitfalls or obstacles they overcame in their paths to success. Their responses were insightful so we thought we would share them with our readers. As it turned out, there were ten hurdles that surfaced during our conversation. We call them the "10 Deadly Sins in B-B Sales." [continue]

August 9, 2015

Do You Know the KPIs of the Hospital Strategic Procurement?

As a sales professional, your performance is under scrutiny. Management has key performance indicators (KPIs) that they measure daily, monthly, quarterly and yearly on you and your counterparts. The most common KPIs are revenue versus plan, achievement of the assigned product mix, percentage of gross margin, win rates and expenses versus plan. [continue]

July 20, 2015

Does Hospital Procurement Only Care About Price?

Over the last few weeks we have had several conversations with various regional sales managers about the role of hospital procurement. With passion and raised voices, these managers argued that "hospital procurement only cares about price, you cannot sell them on value because they don't care, they just want the lowest price!" They then asked our opinion. In our response we suggested sales representatives attempt to discover answers to the following six questions: [continue]

May 31, 2015

Negotiating the Complex Sale: What Hospital Procurement Knows About You!

If you sell to hospitals, it is imperative that you understand there is a new normal in hospital strategic procurement. We will use this as a generic term to also include hospital supply chain management, materials management and purchasing. Each of these terms are often bantered about and while they are not synonyms for each other, they are often used inter-changeably. [continue]

March 16, 2015

Selling to Hospitals: The Effect of Price Discounts on Gross Margin

Is your sales organization throwing money down the drain with each deal that they sell to hospitals? Be honest with yourself. It happens every day. You think you have the deal won and then someone says all we need now is to get the PO through Strategic Procurement. You venture to Strategic Procurement and they hit you with a three-part message you didn't want to hear. [continue]

March 3, 2015

Selling Capital Equipment to Hospitals: Actual Cost Versus Purchase Price

It's no secret that in every hospital, fierce competition for scarce dollars exists between departments to buy new capital equipment that increases efficiency and improves patient care. In this new dynamic environment, hospital C-Suite executives are placing an increased emphasis on the collaborative process to acquire capital equipment. [continue]

February 21, 2015

Why Hospital Procurement Matters!

Most USA sales professionals are surprised at the growing power and influence of hospital procurement in the buying process. They shouldn't be. If they talked to their counterparts in Canada, Europe or other countries they would understand the importance and relevance of why hospital procurement matters. [continue]

September 23, 2014

Questions You Should Ask About Hospital Committees

If you sell a MedTech product, service or solution that occasionally or always has to go to a committee for scrutiny prior to a purchase or contract here are some questions that you need to know. [continue]

September 2, 2014

What You Should Know About Hospital Committees

We have all heard the jokes about committees. For example: a committee is a group that keeps minutes but loses hours1 or a committee is a group of the unprepared appointed by the unwilling to do the unnecessary. While these are humorous, in general they do not apply to healthcare organizations. Within hospitals committees play an important and distinctive role. [continue]

August 11, 2014

30 Words or Phrases That Resonate With Hospital Buyers!

Newsflash! Hospitals don't simply buy products and services; they seek out quality solutions to solve problems. Healthcare professionals are looking for partners that can help them to fix gaps in service delivery and help them to avoid complacency in order to achieve exceptional results. [continue]

July 14, 2014

Essential Skills of the New MedTech Account Manager

The healthcare eco-system is in flux as implementation of the Patient Protection & Affordable Care Act unfolds. New reimbursement models are forcing collaboration between payers and providers to improve patient satisfaction and health outcomes. [continue]