This approach, however, has created a more complex problem: HCPs are growing frustrated with being sold to during a time of crisis.
When combined with healthcare buyers’ increased customer experience expectations, this discontent adds to the importance of sales professionals becoming trusted advisors.
B2B buyers today want a trusted advisor who leverages their situational fluency to provide insight and create value for the practice. A trusted advisor has a set of skills that go beyond an in-depth understanding of the solution’s capabilities. They are viewed as more than a sales professional — they are invited to be part of the decision-making process. They are often consulted in advance of decisions, which gives them an advantage in influencing the sale. Decision makers frequently seek their opinion on competing solutions.
Put simply, the trusted advisor has a relationship with the customer that extends beyond the business environment and simply being sold to.
Becoming a trusted advisor is more important than ever, as life-threatening circumstances consume every resource within the healthcare professional’s world and buyer expectations rise.
Here, we look at the three consultative dialogue concepts healthcare sales professionals can apply to elevate themselves to the status of a trusted advisor.
Consultative Dialogues Take Shape Before the First Conversation
Becoming a trusted advisor starts with extraordinary preparation. This kind of preparation is not episodic — it is ongoing. It is weaved into the fabric of the sales professional’s day. And it is not just preparation for the sake of preparation. Data presented the recent Rainmaker Conference in Atlanta suggests that 9 out of 10 B2B buyers want a sales professional who “gets their space” and almost 8 out of 10 will not work with someone who doesn’t. With consistent preparation, the sales professional is always ready to add value to a conversation with a customer. They can engage stakeholders with a level of detail that reflects a deep understanding of current issues, specific therapeutic categories, and the products they represent in addition to the business for the HCP.
This kind of preparation is particularly important today as the healthcare professional’s world changes daily. Their needs are dictated by changing global health forecasts, thinning resources, and emerging treatment options. As healthcare systems struggle to come to terms with an unprecedented pandemic, professionals are being forced to adjust and readjust to changing realities, as seen by a recent publication from the National Academy of Medicine that offers “strategies for scarce resource situations,” outlining ideas on how to properly conserve, substitute, and adapt resources as hospital admissions surge.
Buyers expect a trusted advisor to be knowledgeable about the ground level issues like these facing their customers. Doing so means engaging in higher-level preparation because the sales professional’s time with the healthcare professional will be more limited than ever. The ability to provide insight and create value with this level of detail is what enables a trusted advisor to gain access to senior-level decision makers. This access is important because trusted advisors must build consensus in an increasingly complex environment like that of an IDN or other multi-stakeholder healthcare organization. They must align the various stakeholders, each with their unique set of needs and concerns, and drive the sale. A trusted advisor gets access, credentializes themselves, then develops a personal relationship. These three stages set up the trusted advisor to engage in a strategic dialogue.
As HCPs are pushed to the brink of their capabilities, healthcare sales professionals must elevate their approaches and become allies. HCPs do not have the time or inclination to listen to a conventional sales pitch. They need insights, direction, and information that serve their ground-level needs during a time of crisis.
Delivering on these needs means:
- Executing intensive preparation to understand the new challenges facing HCPs today
- Delivering a proactive approach characterized by a close tracking of the buyer’s journey
- Creating explicit value that ties into the HCPs’ everyday challenges