As the world [hopefully] begins to exit the COVID-19 pandemic, leaders of start-up med tech companies continue to struggle mightily to get their technology noticed, much less adopted.
Those tradeshows companies previously attended with the goal of boosting awareness have been postponed or cancelled outright. To further complicate matters, medical centers have severely restricted or eliminated onsite access to all but the most essential of sales professionals. These days, it’s maddeningly difficult to receive a return phone call or response to an email.
In a world chock full of new realities, what’s a med tech start-up supposed to do?
How do I reach my end-users?
There’s no denying this harsh reality: In today’s healthcare environment, even if you’ve developed a great new medical device that could truly help a medical center or clinician, it sometimes feels like you’d have a better shot at hitting the lottery than capturing the time and attention of key decision-makers and influencers.
Unless you go about things the right way, that is. More on that in a bit.
The crux of the issue is hospital executives, supply chain teams and clinicians are beyond overwhelmed. Even as the pandemic begins to subside in parts of the U.S., there simply isn’t enough bandwidth [or desire] to see beyond what needs to happen today. Forget about next week, next month or next year. These folks are trying to keep their collective heads above water … today.
Imperative to have the right message
In Med Tech Gurus episode #68, April Zambelli-Weiner, Ph.D. and CEO of TTi Health Economics, discussed the dichotomy that exists in today’s healthcare environment. Yes, hospitals and clinicians are overwhelmed and exhausted. Yet at the same time, they’re hungry for meaningful change that brings some degree of normalcy and improved patient outcomes back to healthcare.
So how do you deal with that? To even have a shot at reaching key decision-makers, you absolutely must customize and differentiate your messaging so it cuts through all current distractions and demands, and allows your great new med tech device to stand apart from competition.
The truly frustrating part is your target[s] may indeed be highly interested in your product but it all comes down to the issue of time … or lack thereof. How do they navigate the often-time-consuming process of product review, purchase and implementation when they don’t have two seconds to sit and think strategically?
It is indeed a big, fat, frustrating conundrum for all. But don’t give up.
Begin by looking in the mirror and being honest with yourself. Is your value proposition a “one-size-fits-all” at a time when a healthcare system is looking for tailored solutions? If yes, it’s time to change that.
One of the key components here is to do your research and gain a clear understanding of each of your potential customers’ workflow. Understand what they will need in order to make a change and incorporate your solution. This will definitely take more work on your part but consider it a wise investment in future success.
If you are able to demonstrate meaningful, measurable budgetary impact or ROI in very short order, you will enhance your chances of gaining their attention. The key is to ensure the data and numbers you’re using are accurate, relevant and easily understood. Remember, in today’s world, your target customer simply doesn’t have the time to do the usual analytics. That’s now on you!
Total Cost of Ownership
One of the ways to go about this is to be very clear about your product’s Total Cost of Ownership [TCO]. Help your client understand both the Capex and the Opex. This may seem counterproductive -- perhaps you think it will even hurt your story – but being open and transparent about total costs is vital to the sales process. In Med Tech Gurus Episode #67, David Newton, V.P of Supplier relations at Attainia, discusses this very situation. David explains that this is all about controlling the message.
If you clearly and accurately explain implementation costs, training and failure rates, this “no surprises” transparency may actually boost your value and enhance perception of that great new medical device of yours. Your customer will eventually figure TCO out anyway so, if you can demonstrate this with strong, up-front data, you will build a solid, trusting relationship from the get-go that may well evolve into a long-term, mutually beneficial partnership.
Using things like extended warranties, training webinars, etc. might also help your customer better manage TCO and set you up for a quicker purchase and, ideally, upgrades a couple of years down the road. At the same time, this may prevent your competition from gaining a foothold later.
Finding the right team to help
For many early-stage companies, much of this data development, message creation and reaching the right supply chain and value-analysis professionals might seem difficult, if not impossible.
There are wise, experienced and knowledgeable professionals out there who can work with you to create compelling messaging and pricing strategies specifically tailored to an individual organization. No more “one-size-fits-all” approaches, they’re so yesteryear. Most early-stage companies, and even mid-size companies, simply don’t have the players on their bench that have this type of specific insight about every medical system.
If you want to take a deeper dive into the best practices of Value Analysis, check out Med Tech Gurus Episode #16 with Excelerant Consulting’s Barbara Strain. In this episode, Barbara shares the Value Analysis playbook and key “best practices”.
You should give serious consideration to engaging the services of a qualified consultancy. Excelerant Consulting is one such firm. They are a team of seasoned, savvy and battle-tested sales executives with a comprehensive understanding of Group Purchasing Organizations [GPO] and Independent Sales Networks [IDN]. Excelerant offers value-analysis professionals to help hone your system-specific messaging. They also have strong relationships with health economics companies to assist with heavy lifting of data development. All of this go-to-market gold is at your fingertips for less than the annual cost of a full-time National Accounts Executive.
Unless you like banging your head against the 2021 wall, I encourage you to contact Excelerant today [firstname.lastname@example.org . Their team of professionals can help you develop and implement a winning strategy.
TUNE IN: Thomas Hickey is host of Med Tech Gurus, a podcast focused on Medical Entrepreneurship and Marketing [available on Apple Podcasts and other platforms].
Tom is a 35 year veteran in the Med Tech space. Having personally worked with dozens of new technologies. It is Tom's passion to enhance patient outcome by bringing new concepts and technologies that will help clinical performance.