Selling to hospital information technology departments

Selling IT to Hospitals

Because of the transformational changes in the buying environment selling to hospitals is a much-discussed topic – including in our blog the Sales Training Connection.

One area receiving increased interest is the continued growth of information technology.  For example, studies have shown that patients are more likely to have better outcomes if treated in hospitals using IT systems, hence selling to IT departments is becoming more important today than ever.

So, are there some best practices you might follow? Here are three:

  1. Apply classic consultative selling best practices. For example ask a lot of questions.  When the customer does a majority of the talking, the seller can develop a much better understanding of they customer’s issues and what he/she is trying to achieve.  This is particularly important for selling to IT departments because they bring a unique and often misunderstood perspective to the buying process.
  2. Talk with IT direct reports before the CIO. It’s simply a way for sellers to capture the information about the hospital’s unique IT challenges and to determine a potential solution before “moving up” to the CIO.  The CIO is a senior level position hence a CIO call requires a rigorous level of preparation.  If the first call goes badly; you will unlikely get second chance and your sale could be doomed.
  3. Bring your IT person along. After the initial sales calls, it’s likely that subsequent calls will drill down on your capabilities. This is where tough technical questions are raised and while there may not be ready answers to every question, the IT buyers will expect answers to reasonable questions. These meetings are also the beginning for building the trust required for partnering relationships between the buyer and seller. As we’ve often hear from our customers, “Vendors are a dime a dozen, partners are the people we want to work with.”

So how do you maximize the effectiveness of this type of call?  In such cases it is important to remember leveraging the team sale is about more than having two sellers in the same room at the same time. Rather, it begins with carefully pre-planning and rehearsing the sales call.

If heretofore you have not called on IT departments, it is best to assume that extra preparation is necessary – the IT customer brings a unique set of needs, challenges, and perspectives to the party.

You can read more about successful sales teams in these posts:

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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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