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The Clinical Selling Skills all Healthcare Sales Reps Need

Customer conversations

selling healthcare solutions with clinical selling skills

3 March 2022Blog

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Clinical Selling Skills Drive Healthcare Sales

Effective healthcare sales organisations are rethinking their communication strategy. Today, much of the healthcare sales representative’s communication consists of promotional content focusing on the features and benefits of the solution. Recently, it has become clear that this approach no longer works because disruption is changing the fundamentals of the industry.

This disruption began with the introduction of the ACA which shifted healthcare business and practise models. These changes were accelerated by the global pandemic.

This new setting means that healthcare professionals (HCPs) want higher quality discussions that include evidence-based solutions addressing their critical business and practise needs. For this reason, clinical selling skills are now a top priority for sales leaders.

Developing clinical selling skills requires an agile approach because sales representatives need the ability to track and understand the HCP’s rapidly changing needs. With an agile approach, the sales professional learns and builds on each HCP interaction. This process brings the HCP’s goals and challenges into greater focus. With this information, the sales professional can use the language of evidence-based medicine to establish the validity, statistical significance, and clinical relevance of their solution while building their individual credibility.

Here, we look at three ways that healthcare sales professionals can apply the principles of evidence-based medicine to their communication with HCPs and win the sale.

1. Renew the Questioning Strategy

Effective questioning captures the customer’s true critical business and practise issues. One way to do so is the funnel approach. Questions start broad to engage the HCP, then become more specific as the representative uses the answers to narrow the focus of each successive question. Not only does this technique uncover true needs, but it also demonstrates active listening skills and authentic curiosity.

Additionally, sellers can add to what they have learnt by connecting with clinicians similar to the target HCP. These questions should explore the HCP’s critical practise issues and preferred clinical data preferences. These parallel conversations are often easier to start and maintain because there is no intent to sell. When the HCP knows that the questions come from the seller’s curiosity, and not a motivation to sell, they are more likely to offer details and even volunteer information.

Lastly, during their questioning sellers should attempt to understand the HCP’s change management style. As healthcare systems continue to adapt to a post-pandemic setting, change management is becoming a central focus. Sellers can use this setting to their advantage by taking the opportunity to understand how the HCP is navigating change. It is important to answer this question because change management often reflects the way a customer approaches decision-making. Knowing the customer’s decision-making process reveals the stakeholders, their responsibilities, and their individual decision-making authority.

How To Do It:

  • Use a funnel approach when questioning
  • Seek insights from those in fields similar to the HCP's
  • Understand the HCP's change management style

2. Focus Efforts on the Right Areas

A key agile principle states that simplicity is “the art of maximising the amount of work not done.” Sellers can put this idea to use by focusing their efforts where they are most needed: during conversations with the HCP. Doing so means preparing. This includes reviewing previous interactions with the HCP and understanding the clinical questions that the HCP develops daily.

Understanding the HCP’s clinical questions matters because every 2-3 patient interactions generate a clinical question for a physician according to research from Walters Kluwer. Only 40% of these questions are answered. Helping physicians answer their clinical questions can impact 5 to 8 clinical decisions per day. This customer-centric approach shows that the seller is a qualified voice prepared to offer value.

Focusing efforts on the right areas also means positioning any solution benefits within the context of the customer’s business or practise. These benefits must be supported by valid, critically appraised, clinical data. The more general the feature the less resonant it will be. The sales professional’s job is to create a clear and compelling connection between the solution and the specifics of the HCP’s needs.

This approach can appear difficult as the HCP’s needs change. However, these changes are in fact opportunities since every change reveals more detail about the customer’s needs. Agile healthcare sales representatives adapt their messaging to these new needs as they unfold.

How To Do It:

  • Prepare for HCP conversations by understanding the clinical questions they receive
  • Position solution benefits within the context of the HCP's  business
  • Use changes in the HCP's setting as a prompt to ask deeper questions

3. Keep the Focus on Outcomes

The customer needs a clear vision of how the solution will fit in their world. Reaching this point means using appropriate clinical data to support the value of the solution. The HCP’s world is based on evidence-based medicine. Medical schools across the world include evidence-based medicine in their curriculum. In fact, in the US, medical schools must teach 5 levels of competency in evidence-based medicine to maintain accreditation.

As a result of this training, most solution features and benefits will be ignored if they are not presented within the context of clinical evidence. The seller must anchor every part of their positioning strategy to research that is valid, statistically significant, and clinically relevant in order to stand up to evidence-based standards expected by clinicians today.

Finally, sellers must contextualise the value of the solution not only in the present setting but in the future so that the customer can understand the downstream benefits. As the pace of change intensifies across the healthcare industry HCPs need to know that the solution can scale and adapt alongside the rest of their operation.

How To Do It:

  • Source clinical data that supports the solution
  • Use only the research that is statistically valid, and evidence-based
  • Position the value of the solution in the context of the customer's future

HCPs want communication that addresses their need for evidence-based solutions backed by data. Sales professionals who win recognise this reality by leveraging clinical data to develop a more strategic questioning strategy, focusing efforts in the right areas, and positioning value in the context of outcomes.

Winning the Healthcare Sale with Richardson's Sprint Selling™

Richardson’s Sprint Selling™ equips healthcare sales representatives with the agility needed to quickly develop the new skill set demanded by HCPs.

What makes our new methodology so effective in the healthcare setting is that it enables sales professionals to leverage new, unexpected information from the HCP to deliver value earlier in the dialogue and develop buy-in along the way.

Sprint Selling™ distills more than 40 years of training 3+ million professionals across 900 businesses. The result is a single effective programme for increasing win rates, reducing cycle time, and driving revenue.

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