Healthcare professionals are some of the most vital members of our society. If you want to sell technology to them, it’s crucial to build an understanding of their unique needs.
At Ambra Health, we offer technology solutions for managing medical data and imaging.
To accomplish our goals, we use both transactional and enterprise selling techniques. We work hard to foster a culture of trust with our accounts in the healthcare field, taking a consultative, value-based selling approach so that we can bring our technology to providers and their patients.
Here’s a more in-depth look at our processes:
Enterprise sales cycles require long-term planning and open communication
The first rule of enterprise sales in healthcare: prepare for a long sales cycle. Our typical sales cycle with large hospitals and health systems is between nine months and a year. Selling to a large healthcare organization requires talking to many different stakeholders within the organization: clinicians, administrative staff, financial executives, and IT representatives. For really large organizations, you’ll be talking to employees at different facilities. Even once stakeholders agree, there are still many additional steps to go through, such as security compliance checks.
Decision-makers won’t necessarily agree with each other, or even share the same priorities. This means that making a sale can be a little like trying to get a bill through Congress. In order to get everyone on board, you need to encourage them to talk to each other. Making the extra effort to facilitate meetings between different stakeholders and flying out to prospective customers will go a long way towards the success of your enterprise sales process. Your initiative to open up communication will increase each party’s confidence about adding new technology.
The benefits of taking an account-based, consultative approach
Sales representatives in healthcare need to be consultants. And because this is healthcare, you need to present evidence-based research. We demonstrate the benefits of our product, tailoring our approach to the person we’re speaking to. For example, Radiologists have different concerns than CIO’s, after all.
Furthermore, we’ve found it useful to take an account-based approach to sales. First, we identify target departments within a large organization. Responsibility for communicating with different stakeholders is then delegated to different members of the sales team according to each individual’s strengths and expertise. We also work together with marketing to layer on broader thought-leadership “air cover” when needed to keep a sales cycle going.
Investing in a professional CRM
When dealing with an extended sales cycle, you’ll need to map out the sales process in detail. Even before an account becomes an opportunity, everything should remain organized within the system. When you have multiple sales representatives reaching out to multiple contacts within an organization, this will be necessary.
A free or low-cost CRM probably won’t have the capabilities you need. But a robust CRM like Salesforce will be a great tool for complex sales because it organizes all contact data within accounts. Your CRM system should also integrate easily with a professional marketing automation system, so you have insight across all touchpoints when coordinating account-based outreach across the broader organization.
When choosing a CRM, make sure to check that the CRM’s data model and feature set can mirror your sales process. It should allow your sales team to work productively and give you the insights you need to diagnose areas of improvement across your sales process.
Best practices for transactional sales: the demonstration and software trial
Achieving success in healthcare technology sales also entails mastering transactional sales. At Ambra, we use software demonstrations and trial periods to garner interest.
However, many sales departments are too demonstration-happy (with some even going as far as to use “number of demos” as a primary performance indicator!). The point is not simply to do as many demos as possible, but rather to engage in the customer discovery process. Learn about the customers’ needs and then provide a demo that is suitable for them and their use case – you might even call this a proof of value, rather than a demo. Transactional sales, no less than enterprise sales, require careful listening and personalization. Emphasize solutions that address their particular pain points, rather than features.
Once we give a high-quality demo, the prospect is ready for a closely managed software trial.
How to build the right sales culture
We consider fostering a strong sales culture to be even more important than strategy. Below are the two pillars of our philosophy.
1. Finding and growing the right SDRs
Our sales development representatives are the point people of our team, sitting down with prospects to explain how they can benefit from our technology in detail.
An SDR isn’t responsible for doing all of the work. But he or she must be able to connect potential customers with the right resources so that they can make an informed decision. They don’t need to be the most tech-savvy members of our team either, but they need to know what tools to use and when to use them.
To find people who are the right fit for our sales process, we prefer to nurture talent from within. We love to hire people on as SDRs and then grow them into account executives and beyond. We find that people who come up with us are better able to understand our product and market. Everyone in our department loves being part of a truly collaborative sales process.
2. The value of growing existing accounts
We’ve developed a culture that values growing existing accounts as well as prospecting new accounts. The healthcare industry is based on longstanding relationships between providers and vendors. So our goal isn’t necessarily to get our technology into an entire healthcare system right away. Instead, we focus on establishing a pilot within one department. With SaaS, we have the advantage to be able to run pilots with relative ease. Once inside, we have enough confidence in our products and services to organically expand the account without being pushy.
In short, we spend the first year with a new account building a strong relationship of trust. And only once that is established do we begin to expand.
Selling to the healthcare market requires demonstrating that you care. The people you’re talking to entered this field of work because they care, and you need to show that you share those values. When you do, success won’t be far behind.
Aaron Kur, VP of Sales at Ambra Health, is a healthcare technology sales leader with experience at startups as well as major financial services firms. Ambra Health makes medical images and data easily accessible to all, from anywhere, on any device, in real time for leading healthcare providers. Aaron holds a BS in Commerce from the University of Virginia, and remains active in the University’s entrepreneurship community. He also serves on the Alumni Governing Council of The Potomac School.