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Healthcare Sales Trends 2022

Outbound sales

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Three Trends to Expect in 2022 for Healthcare Sales Professionals

Nearly every aspect of life changed dramatically in 2021. The amount of change, however, was not evenly distributed. Those in the healthcare industry experienced more upheaval than any other group. 

The breadth of this change presents a challenge to healthcare sales professionals who have an opportunity to position their solutions as an answer to the chaos of the last eighteen months. To do so they must first consider how they will adjust their approach to a setting that has little resemblance to what it was just two years ago. 

The solution is to build a few key capabilities that can be applied to the most sweeping changes. Here we identify the three biggest changes healthcare professionals are likely to face in 2022 and how to overcome them.

1. As Mergers Give Stakeholders New Leverage, Healthcare Sales Professionals Will Need to Refocus on Building Negotiation Skills

The appetite for deals in health services has never been stronger. Data from PWC shows that “deal volume rose by an extraordinary 56% in the 12 months since November 15 versus 2020 led by an explosive 119% volume growth in physician medical groups.” 

Many factors drove this number. A rise in capital availability searches for value, and intensified economic conditions have all contributed. Even those who have not engaged in M&A activity are joining forces with other entities. Consider that many pharma companies are partnering with technology companies to build digital medicine products. 

As entities become larger, healthcare sales professionals face the challenge of selling to fewer organizations that yield more power at the negotiating table.

The risk/reward profile is changing and deals are becoming larger but fewer. 

Healthcare sales professionals who can effectively negotiate with an increasing number of stakeholders stand to capture an outsized portion of the market. Winning the opportunity presents another equally large challenge as decision-makers will aggressively seek to leverage their size to lower costs.

Recommended steps your organization can take to respond to this trend include:

  • Relearn the new set of needs: To negotiate effectively a seller must know what the stakeholders value. The challenge, however, is that the value drivers change when the group of decision-makers expands after an M&A event or a partnership. Therefore, sellers need to relearn the various value drivers across the decision-maker group.
  • Build skills to effectively shape perceptions of value: Sales professionals shape perceptions of value when they focus the customer on what they will gain by reaching an agreement and what they will lose by falling short. Creating this influence is important because it makes the customer more receptive to trade later.
  • Get comfortable with trading (when necessary): Trading in a negotiation means giving something to get something in return. Trades should be spaced in increments to make their value more perceptible. Additionally, breaking up the trades allows the sales professionals to deliver them in order of decreasing value.

See what an effective negotiation looks like by downloading a video example from our digital learning platform here.

2. A Changing Global Healthcare Picture Will Demand Solutions That are Adaptable

COVID has presented a confluence of challenges to healthcare systems. Workforces have thinned. Supply chains have slowed. Infrastructure has reached capacity. The result has been a leap forward in innovation designed to overcome these challenges. 

Overwhelmingly, digital transformation has been the biggest of these solutions as “stakeholders in the health ecosystem have developed products and services that mirror the way we bank, book plane tickets and watch movies, emphasizing convenience, mobility, connectivity, price transparency and an ‘anywhere, anytime’ ethos,” according to research from Deloitte. This acceleration toward a more digitized future means being able to articulate the connectivity and interoperability of the solution.

If the product or service does not include these features the sales professional must find a way to contextualize the solution characteristics within a digital setting. The customer must be able to see the solution fitting into an environment that will scale and change as the healthcare industry continues to evolve.

There are a few key strategies your team can employ to meet this demand, these include:

  • Building agile selling capabilities: To succeed in this setting, sellers need to acknowledge that customer changes are not setbacks. Instead, they are opportunities to build a consultative relationship. Each change is a new piece of information that an adept seller can use to refine their positioning strategy.
  • Learning how to direct the customer's vision of the future: Sales professionals need to co-create a future vision with the customer by diagnosing pain points and relating them back to the solution differentiators. The most sophisticated sales professionals do more than track the customer’s current challenges—they also help the customer gain clarity on what those challenges are.
  • Emphasizing the scalability of the solution: Much of the appeal of digital transformation for health care systems is the ability to expand capacity. Efficiencies gained through technology mean physicians and networks can do more with less. Sellers must articulate the ways in which the solution can help meet this goal.

3. Healthcare Sales Teams Need to Trace the Value of the Solution to One of "The Big Three"

While healthcare professionals continue to embrace new and sophisticated ways of working to deliver the triple aim of our healthcare system, it is important for sellers to remember that there are three other goals at the core of the business side of healthcare. Stakeholders must make money, save money, or manage risk. Sales professionals must demonstrate how their solution addresses these key issues. It is critical to understand the needs of every stakeholder. 

These central needs have never been more important because COVID has taken a toll on all three. Research from EY shows that approximately half of the healthcare systems analyzed in a survey “continue to struggle to achieve a modestly positive margin.” 

Moreover, seven out of ten health systems resorted to short-term debt financing to boost liquidity and working capital in 2020 according to the same research. A sharp drop in elective surgeries was just one example of the ways hospitals lost income during COVID. 

Today, many have recovered but the memory of balance sheet problems looms large. Sellers should simplify and focus their message based on stakeholder role by connecting the value to one of the big three or the triple aim of healthcare.

Some ways that your team can frame their messaging to demonstrate alignment with "the big three" include:

  • Converting soft factors into hard figures: Sales professionals must deliver on a commitment grounded in unambiguous measurement if they hope to gain preference for their solution. Doing so means achieving a balance in which the qualitative aspects of the solution do not overshadow the quantitative characteristics.
  • Keeping the CFO in mind: The CFO is the most influential decision-maker involved in a financial review of the solution. The CFO will not only be focused on the measurability of the solution’s ROI, but they will also want to see the methods used to measure the ROI. Sellers must remember this when preparing to engage stakeholders.
  • Understanding the cost of the status quo: The solution is measured against more than the competing providers. It is also measured against all other possible investments. Therefore, sales professionals must demonstrate a level of ROI and strategic value that is competitive with all other possible uses of capital. Sales professionals who understand this aspect of a purchasing decision are seen as credible because they demonstrate that they understand the way a C-suite executive makes a decision.

Sprint Selling Training for Healthcare Teams

Richardson Sales Performance can help your healthcare sales professionals form a strategy for 2022 with the Sprint SellingTM methodology. Sprint SellingTM distills more than 40 years of training 3+ million professionals across 900 businesses into one effective program. The result is higher win rates, reduced cycle time, and increased revenue. The flow of change continues to be swift. Sprint Selling empowers sellers to move with it.

Download an informational brochure about the Sprint SelllingTM training program here, or click here to contact us and set up an appointment with a member of our experienced team.

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