Selling value in the medical device market – good is not good enough

Medical device sales

Medical device sales - underlying sales success in this market is the recognition that selling value is a strategic imperative.  This challenge requires abandoning the product sale and moving to selling value.

How do you make the switch?

1. Selling medical devices requires being business savvy.

Selling value is imperative because in most cases the competitor’s medical devices are as good, good enough or better than yours.   A starting piece of advice is: to sell value in the medical device sales, develop a superior understanding of the customer’s business. Get to know the customer’s business in depth and better than anyone else.  A few examples:

  • What challenges are they facing?  Example: Are funds available to support expansion?
  • What’s different about their future direction vs. where they’ve been in the past?  Example: What departments are growing?
  • What are the facts and figures around their goals for the upcoming year? Example: Is the patient census down?

If a sales person does not know something unique about these basic business questions, they cannot formulate a compelling solution and sell value better than anyone else; consequently, they’re trapped into just talking about their medical devices or selling price by default.

2. Remember the Triple Crown when thinking about how you might sell value in medical device sales.

The first jewel in the Triple Crown is the notion that medical devices have no inherent value. Products possess features; they do not possess value.  If a medical device does not address a need that matters it has no value.

The second component of the Triple Crown is Value Migration. Whether you analyze it from the perspective of the individual, organization, or an entire industry, what constitutes value tends to shift over time. Today hospital administrators are planning for the future while simultaneously dealing with uncertainties from a variety of sources including reduction in the number of elective procedures, increase in the number of uninsured patients, shortage of clinical staff, fluctuating insurance reimbursements, rise of ACOs, etc. Physician attitudes on critical issues such a managing costs and medical device usage is changing, too. As a result who is involved in the decision has changed, purchasing specifications are different and pricing pressures are at an all-time high.

Last, value is positional and situational.  What value means to any Head of Practice or CNO is different for every hospital or medical practice.  And, individuals holding the same positions in different organizations can have different views on value.  A Cath Lab manager at one hospital primarily may be concerned about keeping the Cath Lab running on time. Her counterpart, however, may be focusing on vendor consolidation as part of that hospital’s strategic initiative.

Final note. In the medical device market there are windows of opportunity such as when a new product is launched where one device may be significantly better. But, as we all know these times don’t sustain. Competitors usually quickly catch up.

So a great product pitch might win for a day but it is not a sustainable strategy.  In the medical device market, the sales person’s superior ability to sell value may be one of the few sustainable competitive advantages.

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©2013 Sales Horizons, LLC

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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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