Selling medical devices that are evolutionary not revolutionary

Selling medical devices

Medical device innovation is slowing down – so product categories are becoming more and more crowded often filled with many “look alike”products.  At the same time physicians are more willing to accept a medical device offered at the lowest price as long as it meets quality standards.

This combination of trends is especially true in those portions of the medical device market that generate the largest profits: CRM devices, cardiology, spine-related devices, and orthopedics devices.

Bain believes that these changes in doctor behavior are so significant that the marketplace is at a tipping point that will force medical device manufacturers to change the way they do business.

What does this mean for the sales force?

Historically, a medical device sales team primarily focused their efforts on selling the clinical benefits of a product to physicians.  Tomorrow that is unlikely to carry the day.  They will also need to sell the economic benefits to both the physician and to non-physicians who are strictly concerned about the cost-benefit considerations.

In some cases, the medical device sales rep will be making this economic case on their own. In others, the company will initiate a coordinated effort to leverage the entire portfolio across product lines (often through corporate sales directors) and enter into discussions with hospital administrators. According to Bain, this enables the companies to do two things: (1) offer a lower price and bring additional benefit to the hospital because their costs are lower (2) sell more by focusing on the totality of needs of the hospital by selling directly to a economic decision maker.

In summary,

  • All hospitals are not evolving at the same rate, so what’s important to them and who makes the buying decision varies from a traditional physician-driven account that’s more clinically focused, to accounts where the administrators are the key players in the purchasing decision, to accounts in-between where it’s a collaboration between the clinical and “carpeted” areas
  • From a sales perspective the focus has shifted to incorporate not only therapeutic advances but also factors related to driving down the total cost of care for the patient and for the hospital. For example, medical device sales reps must now be able to show a physician or hospital how using a specific device can cut time in the operating room in half while maintaining excellent customer care.

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About Janet Spirer

For more than 30 years Dr. Richard Ruff and Dr. Janet Spirer - the founders of Sales Horizons - have worked with the Fortune 1000 - such as UPS, Canon USA, Smith & Nephew, Boston Scientific, Owens & Minor, Textron - to design and develop sales training programs. Janet has followed two different, yet complimentary paths. First, as a B-School Professor she taught marketing, sales, and business strategy courses. She also managed a consulting practice focusing on sales productivity and marketing – working with a variety of clients ranging from Xerox to IBM. She translated those experiences into a book – “Parlez-Vous Business” – that helps sales people develop the business savvy to sell successfully. Since co-founding Sales Momentum® in 2000 with Richard Dr. Spirer received her Ph.D. from The Ohio State University, an M.P.A. from The University of Texas at Austin, and a B.A. in Economics from Brooklyn College. She holds the appointment of Professor Emeritus at Marymount University.
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