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Modern Medical Device Sales: 9 Best Practices for Success


Modern Medical Device Sales: 9 Best Practices for Success

Gain key insights from Terry Coutsolioutsos, SVP of Sales Operations at Siemens Healthineers for how to lead a successful medical device sales team in the new normal.

Face-to-face sales meetings with hospitals are getting harder, not to mention riskier, to come by.

Pile on new technology, alongside sales team reorganization, and it’s high-time for Sales Directors to restrategize. Overall, as 2021 continues to present difficulties for MedTech sales, leaders need to adapt to their strategies. But, how can you ensure the right pivots for your team?

To find out, Samuel Adeyinka, Host of The Medical Sales Podcast & CEO of Evolve Your Success interviewed Terry Coutsolioutsos, the Senior Vice President of Sales Operations, Marketing, and Communications at Siemens Healthineers to learn how to be successful in medical device sales leadership.

Uncover their top tips for inspiring performance and achieving objectives in today’s demanding medical device sales environment.

Watch the webinar on-demand or read the highlights below 👇

how to be successful in medical device sales Bloobirds Webinar

Top tips for modern medical device sales success:

  1. Implement virtual training tracks for medical device sales reps
  2. Support digital customer engagement with omnichannel communication
  3. Apply field sales best practices to virtual selling
  4. Identify the best technology tools to support your MedTech sales strategy
  5. Align your sales and marketing teams to develop new business
  6. Embrace the cost benefits of inside vs. outside sales
  7. Adapt your sales compensation plan and target-setting
  8. Take into account how COVID has affected MedTech spending
  9.  Keep medical device distributors’ engagement a top priority

1. Implement virtual training tracks for medical device sales reps

Terry: There are all sorts of things that happened during the pandemic, especially in the Healthcare business. You’re at home and you’re in sales if you can’t see customers and your customers can’t see you. And there’s still a lot of things to do. So we looked at it and asked ourselves, what advantage do we want to take from this time? 

So, we created a quick training track. We’ve got multiple different business lines that our Account Executives’ represent. For example, we probably have five different Imaging lines. And we actually looked at creating quick micro bite-size types of information where we could upskill our team on product knowledge. 

We also did some microlearning web-based training on professional selling skills and selling from the customer perspective. This was done in product training and we did some soft skill training as well. Not only that, but we also did revamping of some of the sales enablement tools and making sure people have understood how to use them. 

So we created microlearning. We created web-based training. We created gamification. So there were reinforcements – we were flash-carding people and we created contests around it. It was a really exciting and different way to create challenges for most salespeople who are competitive. 

We wanted to create a competitive scale to it, and we really were able to upskill product knowledge and soft skills. And to increase adoption around some of those sales enablement tools that we have been bringing to the organization for the past couple of years. So that’s a good time to tighten things up a little bit.

We used the work-from-home situation as an opportunity strategically to do a quick assessment of our sales teams and understand, how can we use this downtime to our advantage?

Terry Coutsolioutsos, Siemens Healthineers

2. Support digital customer engagement with omnichannel communication

Terry: Our customers are engaging us differently in a digital way. They’re online. They’re doing their own research. 

When COVID happened, it was like: “Okay, what do we do now?” Because we used to bring customers in for demonstrations to our key Centers of Excellence. We would bring them into the commercial offices where we had all of our demonstration set up, and those things halted and stopped. So, we went to an all-virtual demo pretty quickly.

Within 90 days we were able to take each one of our franchisees or product portfolios to have a virtual demonstration created and offer live interactions. And with customers that are buying millions of dollars of equipment. I mean, it’s not like they’re buying, you know, $100 or $1,000 devices. They’re spending sometimes 50, 60, 70 million dollars with us. 

We’re actually showing them the workflow, the clinical, and technical solutions in a virtual environment and that we pivot quickly. They had to see that we were able to do that and create the right customer experience at the right time.

Microsoft has been a phenomenal partner for us in terms of where they are with Microsoft teams. Microsoft has integrated really fast and helped us enable that virtual environment that we need today to connect with people.

3. Apply field sales best practices to virtual selling

Terry: We had to be a little more creative from a digital engagement side, which really kind of pushed us outside of our comfort zone. So, we invested in different types of external data that allowed us to have more transparency to the market that was competitive. 

And anytime you’re growing market share by the way, you’re actually taking it from the competition as well. So that was a lagging indicator that we are being successful. 

But, it’s about, how do you use the information around competitors? How do you guide your sales organization to go to those competitive situations? Because they’re harder. Going to a competitive account versus a friendly account is a totally different thing at the end of the day. It takes you four times as long to close on a competitive piece of business.

The effort to win a competitive account is four times the amount of energy to keep an existing customer.

Terry Coutsolioutsos, Siemens Healthineers

So, you have to find a way to make it easy for your sales organization to work with these accounts and win.  And then we have to track it and analyze it from a data perspective. Who’s engaging what type of customer, versus a competitive one. And we’ve got a big install base, so part of our business strategy is actually maintaining our market share.

4. Identify the best technology tools to support your MedTech sales strategy

Terry: I’m really interested in technology and frankly, I learned so much from our technology vendors whether I buy from a vendor or not. 

From a vendor, you start putting all the data sets together. But, it’s also important to understand where your customers are having challenges like: where does their buying experience start to feel pinched? Or even, where does our sales team start to feel like they’re not effective or if they’re starting to feel pain? 

We’re trying to identify some of those spots, so if there are certain stages of the selling process that we’re getting stuck on, identify why. It’s not just about looking at technology and saying that’s cool. But figure out how that solution fits into a problem that you have. That’s what really kind of comes into play with sales technology is: “What are you trying to solve?”

You need good research on how to figure those things out. For example, take the purchasing process and system integration for a CRM system connecting the data.  Talking about buying seats is just one part of it. But, there’s a whole other set of costs, hard and soft, that go in with integration, adoption, training, and utilization. 

Overall, taking on new technology or software is not a quick decision.

5. Align your sales and marketing teams to develop new business

Terry: The relationship would be one where the sales team is learning from the field and from the customer. Then they’re transferring that information back to marketing about what they need in order to be more successful.

Whether it’s from, what new product iteration do we need to create or, what messages are working and what the market is really responding to. So, one is more strategic in nature, and one is more tactical. But where I see it really becoming successful is when they both own a number together.

When we have our annual targets put in front of us, sales and marketing align with that number. Marketing is just not handing the number to sales and saying, “now you have to go do it because this is what we think the market is going to grow.” There is the number that both teams own together, and then you actually align around. 

Healthcare marketing and sales alignment really becomes successful when they both own a number together.

Terry Coutsolioutsos, Siemens Healthineers

What strategies do we need to deploy or create to achieve that number? And then, how are we going to do it together? At the end of the day, we need the right amount of positive tensions in the room, the outcome, and the intent to make it better for both sides.

6. Keep up open, positive communication to motivate your team

Terry: Sales leaders should always check-in and make sure they understand that, from human to human, you care. I think that goes a long way, whether it’s 10 minutes, 15 minutes, maybe pick up the phone vs. a Zoom call now and then type of thing.

I think that’s an important part, to make sure as individuals people feel good. You’re the direct line to the company, so their perspective of the company’s you.

Also, now the frequency of my meetings which is higher, but the length of the meetings is shorter. So, I used to have a monthly staff meeting that was all day. I don’t do a monthly staff meeting that’s eight hours-long on Zoom.

But one of the best things that I do is having a weekly stand-up call with my direct reports, and there’s no agenda. Sometimes that call will go up to 90 minutes, and others will go to 20 minutes. But there are no set expectations. It’s just: “Here’s what I’m dealing with, here’s what’s going well, here’s what’s not.”

7. Adapt your sales compensation plan and target-setting to the new normal

Terry: I come from different organizations where one was a very quantitative scientific component. And I’ve gone to other organizations where it was more qualitative or artsy. 

When you’re in a very stable business with a lot of transparency and information like on annuity type businesses, such as Capital businesses, it’s really challenging from a target-setting component. But, when you’re selling implants or reusable things it can be a little more scientific.

You can create a brilliant compensation plan, and then totally mess it up with a really bad target-setting.

Terry Coutsolioutsos, Siemens Healthineers

Target settings are important in any organization. When you talk about it, at the end of the day, it’s about achieving and motivating your sales organization, which is typically tied to a variable compensation plan. 

You can build and design a brilliant compensation plan that designs and creates motivation for all the right behaviors. And then you can totally mess it up with a really bad target or quota-setting exercise. They both need to come together in my opinion.

8. Take into account how COVID has affected MedTech spending

Terry: We have done a lot of investment in external data sources to help us monitor and engage Hospital Executives around this capital expenditure question.

We’re seeing a pause where, if you were to ask me like four months ago, it looked like the confidence was starting to come back. And now the confidence is looking like it’s shifting. 

So we’re actually seeing Capital confidence kind of pause right now. So what I would say is we’re in a period of not knowing where it’s going to go yet. I haven’t seen the Capital Market hit bottom yet. It hasn’t bounced and come back up. It’s still on a decline, although it’s smoothing out a little bit.

9.  Keep medical device distributors’ engagement a top priority

Terry: We’ve got quite a few indirect distributor agent relationships both on the imaging side and on the laboratory diagnostic side of our business. I think it’s just like any other sales organization and a lot of them are treated like regions on our team. 

So, it’s about how do you keep them motivated. Did you get to engage them? You’ve got to be transparent. Did you get to communicate right? Did you get to ask them how they’re performing and what their challenges are just like you would with your people? 

A lot of times, indirect sales channel reps are treated like space aliens or something. I think that a lot of times, they don’t feel like they’re part of the team. The better you can bring them in and communicate and understand their challenges and help them solve, some of those challenges will help them be high performers from an indirect perspective. And that builds trust.

How do you inspire and motivate? How are they getting compensated? And how are they getting paid at all? Those things that kind of go into if you were directly dealing with your direct sales organization. I think if you took that same philosophical approach with your indirect Channel Partners or your Distributors, your agents would go a long way.

Want to learn more about how to be successful in medical device sales leadership? Check out the full webinar.

how to be successful in medical device sales Bloobirds Webinar

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