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3 Ways to Access More Healthcare Buyers with Virtual Prospecting

In the early months of the pandemic, virtual engagement was the only option for healthcare sales professionals. Now, as sales organizations work to define the “new normal” many are making virtual selling a permanent part of their selling and prospecting model. In fact, research from Veeva shows that 88% of field sales professionals use digital channels to contact and engage their healthcare buyers.

B2B Virtual Prospecting in Healthcare Sales

Healthcare sales professionals, even those in pharma, must convert standard B2B prospecting techniques for use in the virtual medium.

The challenges are considerable.

It’s easier for HCPs to disengage when in-person meetings are limited or restricted entirely. Moreover, every aspect of the healthcare profession has changed because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Needs are different. Challenges have shifted. Even areas of healthcare that are unrelated to the pandemic have been impacted as resources are diverted away from elective procedures and research.

Acclimating to this new setting means reinventing prospecting and access strategies in a way that adapts to the characteristics of virtual communication. Sales professionals who recognize this necessity will be positioned to create and win more opportunities for three reasons.

  1. They will outpace less nimble competitors who are slow to adopt these practices.
  2. By embracing the virtual approach, sales professionals are delivering HCPs the kind of experience they want.
  3. Virtual engagement is an integral component of multichannel strategies that are now crucial to sales success.

Here, we look at the three practices necessary for adapting to a virtual approach for prospecting in healthcare sales.

Use Concise Messaging that Respects the Physicians Time

Research from Sermo shows the average duration of remote interactions with physicians is just 12 minutes. This is 30% less time than the average duration of in-person interactions. Additionally, the research shows that the longest remote interactions are only 20 minutes. Clearly, there is an expectation for brevity when working virtually.

In addition to these findings, additional data suggests that sales professionals must do more to adapt to the physician’s need for concise messaging. The same body of research determined that more than two-thirds of physicians believe that sales professionals “could improve how they communicate with me,” and only one third of physicians agree that representatives truly understand their needs.

With interaction time decreasing and physicians more skeptical than ever, representatives must deliver value in their buyer engagements.

The solution to this challenge is to relearn the physician’s new set of needs, then right size the messaging so that it immediately addresses their current focus.

Making this work means proving to the physician that you have taken the time to understand their most pressing challenges. This process begins with research conducted before reaching out to prospects, as well as established customers.

The value of a sales professional who understands the physician’s business has never been higher. In fact, according to a survey from Deloitte, physicians are so adamant about others understanding their world that they believe that even doctors need more preparation and “should have a good understanding of the business of medicine and a robust knowledge base in prevention and well-being.”

Some of the most current areas of focus for physicians today are how best to adapt to new business models, improved preventative care, and radical interoperability in which health data moves with ease across the healthcare ecosystem.

Deliver Physician Relevant Studies

While the sales professional’s solution offers downstream value, physicians are also in need of benefits that can make a difference today. Effective sales professionals provide this by delivering insights in the form of physician-relevant clinical data.

Many physicians are unable to keep up with leading research in a pandemic. However, sales professionals can alleviate this problem by providing approved research that shares practice management experiences. Doing so saves the physician the work of sourcing and reading this information on their own.

When done correctly by leveraging the principles of evidence-based medicine, it also bolsters the sales professional’s credibility. Both the content they bring and the manner in which they deliver it drives value for the physician. This approach shows the physician that the sales professional is interested in bringing genuine value even if it does not advance the sale.

Insights concerning practice management are welcomed by physicians because the rate of change in medical care has intensified since the onset of the global pandemic. In fact, even before COVID-19 changed the landscape, physicians were struggling to keep up with a shifting set of best practices.

Consider one study, which reviewed more than 3,000 randomized control trials in three of the top medical journals: JAMA, New England Journal of Medicine, and The Lancet. The analysis determined that 13% of the studies published in these publications reached conclusions that reversed prior treatments or practice recommendations. This result means that 396 studies concluded that a common practice was wrong. These ineffective practices were commonly found in areas like cardiovascular disease, critical care medicine, and preventative medicine.

With a little research, sales professionals can demonstrate that they have taken the time to understand the healthcare professional’s practice and its most pressing challenges and have selected the most relevant, approved information that saves the physician time and perhaps even improves their practice.

Be Prepared to Articulate Adaptability

It is not enough to speak to the customer’s new set of needs. Sales professionals also need to address their growing need for adaptable solutions.

Customers today are more aware than ever that circumstances can change significantly from one month to another. As one med tech respondent noted in an Ernst & Young round table, success in the future will mean learning to do “what entrepreneurs do best: plan for uncertainty.” This mindset requires solutions that can be adjustable and flexible.

Addressing this need means being able to articulate the adaptability of the solution. HCPs need to see that the solution has built-in agility. Moreover, they need to see that the sales professional behind the solution has the acumen and commitment to manage this adaptability. The sophistication of most modern solutions, especially in healthcare, requires ongoing support. The sales professional must offer early evidence that they can provide this level of support.

This approach ties into prospecting because the HCP will form their opinion of the sales professional before they form their opinion of the solution. Therefore, encouraging the HCP to develop a favorable opinion of the sales professional means demonstrating the value of a business partnership. Without respect for the sales professional, the customer will never develop a respect for the solution.

To articulate adaptability, the sales professional needs to understand the organizational interdependence of the different areas of a healthcare practice, hospital, or IDN. This knowledge is important because the solution’s value must fit into the context of the healthcare ecosystem. Adopting the solution must be a seamless endeavor. The key is to develop a holistic understanding of the HCP’s world and become conversant in the language of various healthcare processes.

Moving Forward with an Agile Virtual Prospecting Strategy in Healthcare Sales

Virtual prospecting in healthcare means making a permanent adjustment to the “new normal” that is certain to outlast the pandemic.

Doing so means keeping the messaging concise so that it adjusts to the pace expected in the digital setting. Sales professionals must also deliver insights that are pertinent to the physician’s world even when doing so does not advance the sale. Finally, the sales professional must build their credibility in order to build the credibility of the solution.

About the Author

Richardson Sales Performance is a global sales training and performance improvement company. Our goal is to transform every buyer experience by empowering sellers with critical skills so they can create value to buyers and drive meaningful conversations. Our methodology combines a market proven sales and coaching curriculum with an innovative and customizable approach to learning that ensures your sales teams learn, master, and apply those behaviors where and when it matters most — in front of your customers. It’s our job to anticipate change in your industry so that your sales team can focus on fostering long-term relationships, becoming indispensable partners for their buyers.

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