What do you do when you want to launch a new concept or technology in today’s medical device space? You know, the long sales cycles and complex hospital systems.
Obviously, you need a guru. This episode’s med tech guru is Michelle O’Connor, CEO of the CMR Institute, which has provided training and development for medical device, diagnostic and other life science companies for the last 50 years.
If anyone knows about the newest med device industry trends, it would be someone as passionate about creating collaborative relationships between commercial sales organizations and healthcare systems as O’Connor. Oh, also she is a frequent speaker and trainer, and she serves on the Board of Life Science Trainers and Educators Network.
Does this describe you? Quick quiz.
You’ve got an innovative technology with the potential to improve patient outcomes and reduce hospital readmissions. You even have supporting data and research—the favorable outcomes data that hospitals love. But you’re frustrated by your inability to get any traction in the market.
O’Connor has seen hundreds of companies in her 24-year tenure with CMR. And this is what she has to say to a company with a product that is full of potential, but misses the mark in sales.
“They failed to train and prepare their sales reps to call on a different decision maker—in this case, the economic buyer,” O’Connor said. Without naming names, “This company continued to call on traditional influencers with more of a features and benefits message rather than a value proposition that spoke to the new decision maker.”
It’s just that traditional call points don’t have the ability to influence broad adoption of a product across health systems anymore.
Two problems with this nameless company—they couldn’t the economic buyer and they were staying in their comfort zone.
“They had not been trained or prepared to call on the newer decision maker for that product,” O’Connor explained. And the company wasn’t adequately preparing sales on the new call points, either.
What the Economic Buyer Wants
First, you have to understand the market in terms of data. “What types of data are health systems looking for when they make these kinds of decisions?” O’Connor said.
What the Economic Buyer WantsFirst, you have to understand the market in terms of data. “What types of data are health systems looking for when they make these kinds of decisions?” O’Connor said.
Labs? Clinical providers? C-suite? You have to find the right data for the right decision makers.
It’s not just about an innovative product and solid outcomes data. Go-to-market sales strategy can be the difference between a successful and an unsuccessful company.
O’Connor talks about a specific successful company she encountered. “Prior to launching the product, they totally revamped their go-to-market sales strategy. They brought the sales leadership in to contribute to the development of a new value proposition.”
Basically, sales was involved in the whole process to determine the value that the company brings to the market in terms of cost, quality, and outcomes.
“These sales leaders were also trained to call on the C suite,” O’Connor said. “And finally, they ensured that their sales reps were trained to use a value-centered approach.”
So as a company, they took a step back before they launched the product to develop that value proposition. “The training piece, I think, was integral to that,” O’Connor added.
It boils down to two components, really.
How to Reach Buyers Effectively
Hint: It’s not to email a bunch of times.
If you think it’s hard to get an email answered from somebody in the C suite, just think about being the somebody with 50 or 60 sales emails a day.
“To get the interest of something in the C suite, it has to be a very unique value proposition,” O’Connor said.
“Instead of going in with a sales pitch or a request to meet with someone, offer a value proposition. Here’s how we can benefit your health system, and if I can have 30 minutes of your time, this is what I will do. Boom, boom, boom.”
Say your product will impact hospital readmissions. But say that’s not what the health system’s focusing on right now.
“If they’re trying to solve a problem that your message doesn’t necessarily appeal to, they’re not going to pay attention to that email,” O’Connor said.
What to do about it? “Take a step even further back and identify a unique approach to each health system,” O’Connor recommends.
A lot of helpful information—their strategic plan, their annual report—is out in the public domain. “This looks like determining what metrics they are falling short on or that are impacting their bottom line and then positioning your product in terms of the problem that it will solve for that particular health system.”
Do your research and craft a solution to a problem that the institution may be interested in.
“It’s not a one-size-fits-all approach,” O’Connor said.
“That’s a mistake that med tech companies make. Their approach is more of a traditional call approach, and that’s just not going to work in this value-driven market.”
The truth is, over the last few years, there’s been a reluctance to shift the go-to-market and selling model. But lately there’s been an uptake in an interest in doing things differently. “Med tech companies and GPOs are realizing that, to impact market share and revenue, a different go-to-market approach is required.”
This whole attempt to solve a problem? It’s way more likely to succeed than misaligned incentives.
If the med tech company’s goals and the health system goals are not aligned, that’s a lose/lose.
Good news: “There’s a sweet spot for med tech companies and for health systems to come together and to create a win/win proposition,” O’Connor said.
Cost, Quality, and Outcome
Maybe a decade ago you could just call on a surgeon, get that clinical buy-in, and be done. Today you need to think more strategically.
“It’s all about value, and that value to most health systems means cost, quality, and outcome,” O’Connor said. “Being able to position your product within that triangle is critical.”
So, CMR Institute helps prepare companies to tackle just that strategic problem. O’Connor prepares company go-to-market strategies differently to present their product or solution within the context of a value proposition.
“One of the things we do is help organizations create a value proposition if they don’t have one, because you can’t create an effective go-to-market strategy without it,” O’Connor said.
In CMR Institute workshops, you’d answer some questions like these:
These questions help companies define their product or service in a manner that allows the provider organization to analyze its value to the health system without just focusing on cost.
“Other workshops help customers understand who the new decision makers are and the measurements and goals on which they’re focused,” O’Connor added.
“This greater ability to present solutions for real provider issues allows our customers to create a more successful go-to-market strategy. And I think that that’s what it’s all about today.”
CMR Institute also offers free resources and podcasts on the changing market for med tech companies on its website. And for a deeper understanding of what CMR Institute can do for entrepreneurs, just contact Michelle O’Connor directly by email at email@example.com.
This post is based on a podcast interview with Michelle O’Connor from the CMR Institute. To hear this episode, and many more like it, you can subscribe to Med Tech Gurus.
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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.