Selling technology to healthcare organizations can be difficult with multiple decision-makers, tight budgets, and other priorities that can seem like moving targets. If you’re a healthcare-focused technology company, or a technology company looking to expand in healthcare, knowing what is actually important to your target audience is key to your success.
We interviewed six healthcare executives at leading healthcare provider organizations — business to clinical to more technical roles — about what they’re seeking from digital health solutions: what it takes to seal the deal for them during the sales process, and what they’d prefer to avoid during it as well.
Each healthcare industry vertical and sub-vertical may share common pain points. But it is also fair to say that, even within the same vertical, the problems an organization is facing or the business goals they are trying to achieve may differ from one to the next. Each patient and their care journey is unique. So why should we expect each care setting’s challenges to be the same?
“Even across verticals like post-acute care, which we are, you can’t assume that all skilled nursing facilities are the same. For example, one skilled nursing facility may be stronger in one aspect and another one could have completely different strengths and weaknesses. With that being said, we are all seeking different solutions.” — Rekeyia Stiff, Regional Director of Admissions; Lexington Health
Talk about the benefits. As in, think ahead and proactively answer the question for them, “How does this help me?” What’s your prospect company’s mission statement, and how does your solution help them reach that goal? What business problems keep them up at night, and how can your technology help solve them?
“The challenge is with fancy, sexy technology that is ‘a solution looking for a problem.’ It’s not adding any value. Healthcare is about caring for people and solving a problem — people come to a healthcare provider because they have a problem. All vendors who are in the healthcare business, you are ultimately caring for people. Think in terms of solutions, keeping this end game in mind, versus just selling a product.” — Dr. Paramjit “Romi” Chopra; Founder, Chairman, and CEO; MIMIT Health
Tech buyers called this one out as perhaps the most pervasive characteristic of a bad sales call. We share a sampling of anonymous quotes to drive their point home: truly understanding your buyers and their problems means listening more than talking.
“Consultative selling is a dying art.”
“One of my biggest pain points is just them really listening to what my specific need is.”
“I’m more about value-selling, integrity selling, whatever you want to call it, but you have to add value to someone, not just yourself.”
“Salespeople should listen more, talk less.”
Often, decisions are formed in-house via committees, with representation from all areas — business leaders and technology experts alike, with varying levels of clinical knowledge and expertise. If you can unearth up-front what their decision-making process is and the various people or teams involved, you can work to bring more value throughout the selling process to all.
“I never let anyone feel it’s only my decision. I look for buy-in from every stakeholder, and I want my team to come to a consensus if we are to have the best outcomes and highest adoption rate of each solution we implement.” — Dr. Paramjit “Romi” Chopra; Founder, Chairman, and CEO; MIMIT Health
When it comes to knowing if a product might work successfully for a potential customer, they would rather not take your word for it, but be able to read about — and even speak with — happy customers instead. Customer narratives are what prospects are really looking for, whether that’s testimonials, success stories, case studies, or targeted customer references. And the more similar the use case is, the more clearly prospects can understand you’re the expert to get the job done for them as well.
“I want to hear and see about how another company has used the solution you are proposing for us and how successful the solution was. I’m a visual learner so this allows me to see what they’re doing and tweak it accordingly; more of this or less of that.” — Rekeyia Stiff, Regional Director of Admissions; Lexington Health
Our interviewees had some great experiences during sales cycles as well, and they shared several positive themes that motivate them to pursue a solution further. Direct from our interviewees, here are five “dos” for how to sell tech in healthcare if the goal is to get more meetings and get to “yes” faster:
Research information sources abound to help you write a more targeted email or to better prepare for a call. Whether you explore LinkedIn or other social media, or read their latest blogs or news articles, dig into what your prospect’s role is and how they fit into the larger organization. You can also see what roles the company is hiring for, to get a better indication of what their needs might be.
“We get a lot of phone calls and emails, so one of the biggest things that I’m looking for is when a company has done their research. Otherwise, you spend a lot of the time talking about the company and less about the problems we’re trying to solve.” — Sonia Kuo, Director of Clinical Program Development; Nizhoni Health
Being misleading about current features vs. future updates can be potentially more damaging to the client relationship in the long run, and worse, it wastes both of your time.
“It drives me crazy when I’m being sold something that’s not in production or something that’s not real. There are always features that are going to be in development. So I totally understand when you say, ‘This isn’t quite there yet, but this is where we’re headed.’ But just make sure that’s really clear in the selling process.” — Tulley Orzech, Manager of Application Development; Paladina Health
As our favorite sports agent, Jerry Maguire, would say: “Help me help you.”
Learn what your main point of contact’s most important decision-making criteria is going to be, then provide tools to help them sell through the biggest blockers around that as they seek buy-in from other decision-makers and stakeholders.
For example, with small to mid-size organizations, if you already know your solution might be cost-prohibitive, maybe it’s enabling your prospect with pricing but also more detailed benefits information — make it easy for them to explain to the finance committee why your solution is the best long-term solution for the ROI. For personas tasked with implementation, maybe it’s more clearly explaining the technical lift that will be required of their team. Will it play well with their existing suite of technologies? What else can you provide to ensure your solution, product, or tool will not become an extra burden on their team?
“There are some great solutions out there, but if they can’t easily integrate with the solutions you already have — primarily our EHR and CRM in our case — that makes it more difficult to even use long-term. If there’s another solution that’s going to improve lives, we’re willing to look into it. But I really look at integration with our existing solutions as the biggest consideration with purchase decisions.” — Teresa Spencer, VP, Marketing & Innovation; Graham Healthcare Group
What good is the best solution in the world if you’ve made it difficult to adopt? Without the ability to integrate, a new platform can feel like more of a headache for your customer’s team, causing confusion about what data is supposed to live where. Not to mention, it can be hard for your customer to justify from an efficiency standpoint why their staff must enter data in yet another platform.
Gone are the days of one-size-fits-all IT solutions. And buyers realize there may be a significant amount of customization required to provide the best solutions for their complicated business problems. Lead with how it can be a win-win for both parties: “How can we each grow from this and add value for one another’s businesses?”
“Pricing can be negotiated, features can be developed, right? Technology changes every day. I’m looking for a long-term partnership and I’m trying to say, ‘Can I work with them for at least five years?’” — Sampath Narayanan, Chief Information Officer; Paladina Health
For more insider tips on how to sell tech in healthcare, told directly by the technology buyers themselves at leading healthcare provider organizations, see the on-demand video interview series, Selling Technology in Healthcare.