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10 Strategies for Leading A Digital Transformation in Healthcare Sales

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10 Strategies for Leading A Digital Transformation in Healthcare Sales

Gain key insights from Martin Osborn of Medtronic & Steffen Haerterich of GE Healthcare for transforming healthcare sales teams in the digital age.

Every industry has participated in massive shifts this past year due to the pandemic. However, no industry has experienced such an immediate need for a digital transformation as MedTech.

Healthcare sales teams all over the world are grappling with how to satisfy their customers and build new business digitally. Transitioning from outside to inside sales is just the tip of the transformation iceberg.

We sat down with Martin Osborn, Head of U.S. Commercial Innovations at Medtronic, and Steffen Haerterich, Global Head of Digital Selling at GE Healthcare to get their expert advice. From our live webinar, we’ve rounded up ten key strategies for transforming your healthcare sales team to surpass 2021’s hurdles.

Watch the webinar on demand or read the highlights below 👇

Digital Transformation in Healthcare Sales

Top strategies for your Healthcare Sales team’s digital transformation:

  1. Consider the evolving buyer’s journey
  2. Use a mix of digital and human touchpoints
  3. Invest in upskilling your medical device sales reps
  4. Support a virtual and field sales hybrid model
  5. Use software to bridge the gap between outside and inside sales
  6. Embrace the cost benefits of inside vs. outside sales
  7. Apply remote sales best practices to procedural sales teams
  8. Strengthen the relationship between marketing and sales
  9. Break your digital sales transformation down into steps
  10. Structure both formal and informal training on new digital practices

1. Consider the evolving buyer’s journey in Healthcare Sales

Steffen: I see a shift in the go-to-market approach, specifically in MedTech, where traditionally, we were focused on field sales only. So this now becomes a play off of field sales plus inside sales and the digital online sales channel. And all of this has to be customer-centered. 

This means that in the end, the customer, which we all are, at, let’s say Amazon, might point their B2C experience and expectation into the B2B world. And why is it so? The customer buying journeys are simply changing. In fact, they are becoming more complex

There’s some research from McKinsey and other big companies; it takes about five to seven customer touchpoints across various channels to make a buying decision. 

So think of an example, right? If you want to buy your car, you might see a TV ad, go online, start your research, download some whitepapers, you know. You’ll read through the specs, you schedule a test drive, you configure the car online, and then you may even chat with someone online to ask a couple of questions, right? And in the end, download some screenshots and pictures of the car and go to the dealer to sign the deal, right?

It takes about five to seven customer touchpoints across various channels to make a buying decision. 

Steffen Haerterich, GE Healthcare

It’s just to illustrate that the buying journey can be very complex in terms of crossing multiple channels as I said.

2. The MedTech buyer needs a mix of digital and human touchpoints

Steffen: These days you have pre- and post-COVID. One thing to highlight is that even before COVID hit us it was already clear that the buying behavior is shifting – changing towards this online and remote model.

And just wanted to address one more factor: according to Forrester in the MedTech space, only eleven to twenty percent of the deals are closing online in e-commerce online transaction systems. This means that our focus should be as much more important to understand: how are we getting to this point where customers finally make their buying decision?

There’s 80 to 90% that that would still buy through traditional channels or virtually over phone and video these days. So just something to keep in mind that; again, it’s not necessarily when we speak about digital sales, about the online transaction itself, but the point is how to get there.

3. Invest in upskilling your medical device sales reps

Martin: Our reps are becoming more, we’ll say, digitally savvy. It’s not necessarily in the hiring process. Many of the representatives in most Medical Device Industries have been in the role for the past year because of hiring being at a limit and minimum due to financials right now. So a lot of what’s going on is training. And a lot of that training is on some of those additional digital tools. 

Everyday, more and more customers are saying, “Hey, can we set a WebEx? Can we set up a zoom?”

Martin Osborn, Medtronic

Whether it’s supporting a meeting, or whether it’s picking up a device and sharing an in-service. In some cases working with a third-party company to have a 360-camera set up in the operating room so they can support cases from a technical aspect.

It can be involved in new hire training, or it can be something that’s brought in for legacy reps. We created a program just for our team to support how our medical device sales reps work with customers – knowing that more and more customers are saying, “Hey, can we set a WebEx? Can we set up a zoom? Can we set up an MS team? Or your video webinar of choice.”

4. Support a hybrid virtual and field sales model

Martin: Something we’re really looking forward to post-pandemic, outside of what people have established, is sort of the force multiplier effect of software engagement. 

So you imagine, Steffen, he’s managing a bunch of cases in Germany while maybe he’s actually at the time living in London or he’s on business in London. How do you answer those questions without having to hop on a train, on a plane, or in the U.S., drive two to three hours?

So, many industry leaders are having reps spend one morning a week handling in-services from a distance. Instead of spending all their time in the operating room standing around waiting for their product to be used in a case.

From home, they’re supporting cases or holding meetings, or even doing some cold calling to a certain aspect. Much like our remote salespeople are doing. So it’s definitely a change as to where our salespeople are spending most of their time now.

And unfortunately it took a pandemic to get people to see the value in not just driving around, and walking around, and hanging out in the hallways –which you can no longer do in most hospitals now.

From home, field reps are supporting cases or holding meetings, or even doing some cold calling to a certain aspect. Much like our remote salespeople are doing.

Martin Osborn, Medtronic

In the future, we expect that our customers are going to try to limit access to our sales team. And it’s incredibly important to have those people on the ground and customer-facing. But if they can’t get access initially, let’s make sure they have a digital option to do that.

5. Use software to bridge the gap between outside and inside sales

Steffen: Yes, everyone is doing inside sales these days because you have to. But in fact, you have an outside sales team helping customers remotely. So now you think about the hybrid model that Martin mentioned. 

It doesn’t matter these days if it’s outside or inside sales, right? It’s someone remotely approaching a customer. 

Steffen Haerterich, GE Healthcare

How do you work together and also capture the digital breadcrumbs from those web channels and feed the information to the sales enablement, CRM, tools, and sales engagement platforms at the right time to those reps? It doesn’t matter these days if it’s outside or inside sales, right? It’s someone remotely approaching a customer. 

So, the handoffs are supercritical from one channel to the other. From one customer touchpoint to the next one, whoever is picking it up. And this is where I see one of the biggest opportunities for software to help close that gap. And create that transparency between what has happened with the customer and what could be the next step.

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6. Embrace the cost benefits of inside sales vs. outside sales

Steffen: Even pre-covid, we did not have the luxury to have unlimited sales reps who could go out and see all customers that exist. In terms of meeting the total market, you had limited coverage and limited visibility. 

So one of the biggest opportunities you now have is a more cost-effective way because you can approach more customers simultaneously.

You can also create an improved win rate because of a better customer experience generated through those digital channels and video chats. Right? Those engagement relationship-building tools. 

So in essence, it’s seeing more and winning more of the market. That’s the biggest opportunity not just for MedTech, but in general any company, has now these days focusing on inside sales.

7. Apply remote sales best practices to procedural sales teams

Martin: So the question is – “How do you go from walking in with a box of something to potentially selling something broader digitally without actually being in front of the person?” 

The remote sales team has been solid at this in most companies. In that, they may have been originally focused on a single product, and now they’re upscaling to an entire portfolio. 

How can you support customers in the meantime to help educate them until more elective procedures are back in place? It can be done over a Zoom call.

Martin Osborn, Medtronic

But what we’ve seen during this time of COVID is, especially as we saw elective surgeries drop-down. Especially in this most recent COVID ramp that started in the fall, is coming with more of a solution from a procedural standpoint.

So, if you are associated with a procedure, from a product standpoint, you need to help drive revenue, in orthopedics, weight loss procedures, or maybe the cardiothoracic. 

And those customers want to know – what can you do to support them? Both once they’re back online and what you can you do in the meantime to educate until more procedures are in place.

We’ve got a company called Digital Surgery, and they’re helping support in avenue of seeing – how do you apply a set model to your procedural process? And that can be done over a Zoom call, it doesn’t have to be something you have to physically put in front of something.

So again, take a lot of those skill sets that the remote sales team has put together in everything they do. From cold calling the closing deals and handing off or handing off a bigger deal. And then use that model with your in people in the field.

8. Strengthen the relationship between marketing and sales

Martin: You got to have a good partnership with your marketing team. Especially if you’ve got a digital marketing team. Because they’re building the content that’s getting in front of the customer, and if you don’t have that partnership in place, you’re going to struggle.

Right now, it’s a prime time to do it because people are becoming remote. And we’ve got our own remote sales team people teaching techniques to our people who are field based on how to handle an in-service. How do you share content quickly and be prepared for that? Marketing.

So make sure you’ve got that partnership with the marketing team to supply the content.

9. Break your digital sales transformation down into steps

Steffen: Transformation by definition is something huge. It’s a big, big change. How do you drive big changes in a healthcare sales organization? Where you already know any change can be very difficult to implement. Again, there are different methodologies and technologies to support.

I’ll highlight the McKinsey methodology called the 5A’s: aspire, assess, architect, act, and advance.

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First, the Aspire phase, as the name kind of indicates, you try to understand your vision which includes the vision statement and the guiding principles. So where do you want to be in five years from now?

The second step: assess the market. So also internally, so what capabilities do we currently have? What do your competitors do? And to ultimately then understand the gaps to the vision that you laid on in Step 1.

Step three is concrete action. More or less how you’ve done your homework, you know where you want to go – now let’s put a plan together, structure some actions to realize that vision, including a metrics plan. 

In every big program, it’s about rigorous execution and project management. You have all your again Matrix tracking and basic 101 project management.

Structure your actions in order to realize your vision, including a metrics plan. It’s all about rigorous execution and project management.

Steffen Haerterich, GE Healthcare

And I think in my opinion the most important step is the last one. So once you are done, how do you advance? How do you sustain that change? How do you make sure that you drive continuous improvement and make sure that the organization has somewhat of behavior change? And that’s the five-step framework.

10. Structure both formal and informal training on new digital practices

Martin: Upskilling is something I know we’ve put a lot of focus on. But I’m also hearing from industry colleagues even in the banking industry that they are taking that up a notch.

They’re really driving how we hold a Zoom call just like this. How do you set up your background? You know, what kind of systems do you have? Do you have an old computer? So now you need a new HD camera?

It’s everything from, what does good light look like? To how do you close a deal over a phone? Make sure your teams have both formal and on-demand training.

Martin Osborn, Medtronic

Sometimes it’s that simple, but then it’s also like just basic one-on-one. What does good light look like? How do you close a deal over a phone? You know, those of us who work in Corporate and Marketing and maybe in-house do this all day long. But our salespeople maybe do this once a month for a national call that they’re not even participating in.

So it’s a very different approach to setting up your call plan and how you put them together. And make sure your teams have both formal and on-demand training. And then, standard superuser program to back people up. 

So that when you have that next important call, you got someone who’s acting as your producer, someone who’s watching the crowd and reading the audience. It’s a different model because you’re not reading a room.


Want to learn more about digital healthcare sales strategies? Check out the full webinar.

Digital Transformation in Healthcare Sales

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