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SPI Insight: Taking the Pulse of Big Changes in Healthcare Sales

As major changes within the healthcare market emerge, sellers must also adapt. A change in the market means a change in competencies and practice.

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SPI Insight: Taking the Pulse of Big Changes in Healthcare Sales

  2. 2. 2 © Sales Performance International, Inc TABLE OF CONTENTS TAKING THE PULSE OF BIG CHANGES IN HEALTHCARE SALES 01: DEVELOPING LIFE SCIENCES SALES TEAMS Adapting ForEmerging Sales Competencies: A Golden Opportunity ForLife Sciences Trainers (Pages 3-4) 02: ALIGNING SALES TEAMS WITH HEALTHCARE BUYERS How To Align With How Healthcare Organizations Buy Today (Pages 5-6) 03: HOW LIFE SCIENCES SELLERS MUST ADAPT Five Best Practices ForSales Success In The Age Of Evidence-Based Medicine (Pages 7-8)
  3. 3. 3 © Sales Performance International, Inc DEVELOPING LIFE SCIENCES SALES TEAMS ADAPTING FOR EMERGING SALES COMPETENCIES: A GOLDENOPPORTUNITYFORLIFESCIENCESTRAINERS By Brad Ansley, Director, SPI Life Sciences Industry Practice I recently had the privilege of attending the 2015 Life Sciences Trainers and Educators Network (LTEN) conference in Phoenix, AZ. The conference was attended by over 700 learning leaders and practitioners across the pharmaceutical, biotech, medical device, and diagnostic industries. In the course of three days, I had over 100 conversations with conference attendees. From what I heard, it is clear that more organizations now feel increasing urgency to take action on recent changes in the healthcare market. The iconic driver of these changes in the US is the Affordable Care Act (ACA) – however, most, if not all, countries in the world are facing similar changes. Unfortunately, there is still so much uncertainty around how to adapt to these changes, especially in sales organizations. Identifying the emerging new competencies required for sales success is especially challenging. This is because the changes driven by the ACA are so significant that examining lagging indicators simply doesn’t work. Your current and past high performers will not necessarily be your future high performers. During the conference, I got the impression that training managers are looking to sales leaders to tell them the behaviors and development their teams need. But so far, sales can’t explain to training professionals what new behaviors are needed, because they haven’t yet figured them out. Meanwhile, the clock is ticking. Savvy learning and development professionals should look at this situation as an opportunity to get a seat at the table as a strategic business partner. This starts by being proactive and going to sales with an informed point of view. Here are some ideas to get you started. Understanding required sales competencies starts with recognizing the changes in buying dynamics that are being driven by market changes. Although the specific competencies required will be unique to each company for their product, clientele, and stage of market, these three are important ones that we see emerging as a result of the recent changes in the healthcare industry. 1. Incorporating evidence into sales discussions The ACA ties a large percentage of reimbursements to patient outcomes. In fact, many of the new business models (i.e., Accountable Care Organizations) require proof of an evidence-based practice in order to participate in the shared savings programs. Representatives that can’t leverage the principles of evidence-based medicine to prove that their product or solution either lowers costs or improves patient outcomes, probably won’t be successful. In contrast, representatives who know how to critically appraise clinical data and understand what clinical question the data answers, can discuss products in the context of validity, significance, and clinical relevance. In other words, those representatives can deliver a clinically relevant solution for a specific physician and for a specific type of patient. 2. Speaking the language of different decision makers Increasingly, physicians will be employees of healthcare systems, and as a result, they will have less influence over buying decisions. Life Sciences 1
  4. 4. 4 © Sales Performance International, Inc sales have shifted far beyond simply detailing drugs or demonstrating devices, and now require much more knowledge, skill, and business acumen. Decisions are now being made by committees at the integrated delivery network, managed care, or the accountable care organization level. These committees do not only have clinical representatives, but also from finance, operations, procurement, compliance, and other functional areas. Your sellers must be able to formulate and position solutions that meet the needs of the various committee stakeholders, and persuade these individuals to consider and select your product or solution. 3. Executing a business-to-business style sales process This point is related to the preceding one. Not only do sellers need to speak the language of different decision makers, they must also manage a complex buying process. This requires them to understand the difference between a call model and a sales process. Traditionally, pharmaceutical companies had call models such as “Open, create interest, handle obstacles, and close” to guide reps through individual interactions with physicians. A complex sale requires another level of process to guide reps through identifying stakeholders, assessing their power and influence, gaining access to power, and covering your bases. It requires knowing how decisions are made in an organization and aligning your sales process accordingly. Executing a complex sale requires a high degree of patience, discipline, and skill. There are many lessons to be learned from other industries, such as technology and capital equipment, where this buying and selling dynamic has been the case for years. If you are proactive, you will be rewarded. Bring a rationale for why emerging sales competencies are the ones that require training. Then, bring a plan to monitor progress every six-to-twelve months to demonstrate increases in proficiency level, end results, and ROI. You will add more value to the sales leadership and earn a seat at the table as a valued strategic partner. Download a free white paper to learn more about preparing your sales force to succeed in the era of the Affordable Care Act.
  5. 5. 5 © Sales Performance International, Inc ALIGNING SALES TEAMS WITH HEALTHCARE BUYERS HOW TO ALIGN WITH HOW HEALTHCARE ORGANIZATIONS BUY TODAY By Brad Ansley, Director, SPI Life Sciences Industry Practice All over the world, there is a growing middle class that expects better health care, and an aging population that requires increasing medical attention. Governments are taking action to control healthcare expenditures as a percentage of GDP. These are significant demographic and policy shifts that will dramatically affectsuppliersofpharmaceuticalproducts,medicaldevicesandcapitalequipment. To survive, they must understand these changes and adapt accordingly. In the United States, the Affordable Care Act (ACA) is forcing healthcare providers to change their business and practice models. In order to reinforce the mandate to decrease the cost of care and improve outcomes, the Department of HealthandHumanServices,forthefirsttimeever,hassettargetsforthepercentage of Medicare reimbursement that are tied to either value or outcome. For example, in 2016, they expect 85% of all Medicare fees for service reimbursement to be tied to value or outcome, with the target increasing to 90% by 2017. This is driving healthcare providers to adopt more efficient and collaborative business practices. Asifthatisn’tenough,accountablecareorganizationsandotherintegrated delivery models are decreasing the decision making power of individual physicians. Surgeons used to be able to say, “I want a particulardevice in my OR every time I’m in there, or else I’m leaving.” Now, “value committees” consisting of clinicians, nurses, administrators,operations,andfinancepeopleareevaluatingthosedecisions.Sales representatives have to deal with both clinical and administrative decision-makers. To be successful, life sciences marketers and salespeople must get aligned with how healthcare systems are buying today, and they must understand the factors currently influencing buyers’ decisions. If they push marketing messages that don’t emphasize driving outcomes and value, then they will be left out in the cold. Even if the product costs more, if they can prove that it prevents patients from being readmitted to the hospital or shortens the hospital stay, then they can still win business. HOW TO ALIGN To align with today’s buyers, life sciences salespeople must be able to solve problems and position the value of solutions in terms of cost management and outcome improvement. How sales reps gain access, how they prepare for a call, how they manage the complexity of the buying process, and how they continue to demonstrate value and look for growth opportunities inside the account are all changing. The life sciences sales role will start to look more like what we see today in the technology industry – a more complex sales environment. Conversations with buyers are changing. Traditionally, a pharmaceutical sales rep might come in and say: “Dr. Davis, I’m here to talk to you today about our antihypertensive medication. Here’s a study that we published in New England Journal and what it says is that we lower blood pressure ten millimeters of mercury better than our competitor.” Thisisacannedpitchthatdoesn’trequirethereptoconsiderifthephysician has a high population of patients with high blood pressure, and if so, if that problem was relevant to the physician. 2
  6. 6. 6 © Sales Performance International, Inc A consultative, solution-based sales conversation plays out differently: “When I have spoken with other clinicians that appear to have practices similar to yours, they have a large hypertensive patient population that has a significantimpactonthequalitymeasuresforthepractice. I’dbeinterestedtoknow how this patient population impacts your practice… I’ve also found that their top clinical concerns are decreasing adverse experiences due to the use of multiple antihypertensives while targeting at least a decreaseof10mmofmercuryormoretoreachtheirbloodpressuregoals. Canyou help me understand what your targets and goals are for your hypertensive patients and the tools you use to get there?” After gaining an understanding of the critical practice issues, the representative can then begin to position their solution in context. For instance, they could reach into their arsenal of clinical studies and say, “That being the case, I’ve critically appraised a clinical study that was recently published in the New England Journal of Medicine and thought that it might be of interest to you. I’d like to hear your thoughts on how these results from the trial could impact your practice.” A consultative, evidence-based and solution-focused approach helps the sales rep uncover issues and priorities that will enable her to either help propose a value-enhancing solution, or to shift to another product in the portfolio if there isn’t a current, compelling need for her initial solution. This is the kind of sales behavior that is now required to succeed in the new healthcare environment. Download a free white paper on how buying is changing in healthcare systems and how your sales organization should adapt to this new reality.
  7. 7. 7 © Sales Performance International, Inc HOW LIFE SCIENCES SELLERS MUST ADAPT FIVE BEST PRACTICES FOR SALES SUCCESS IN THE AGE OF EVIDENCE-BASED MEDICINE By Brad Ansley, Director, SPI Life Sciences Industry Practice Changes in government healthcare policies are having a profound impact on how healthcare products, services, and solutions are being bought. Reimbursements to healthcare providers are increasingly based on the value or outcome of their care and not the volume of care. This leads them to favor treatments that either decrease costs, improve patient outcomes, or both. Increasingly, therapeutic decisions to meet these criteria are based on evidence from well-designed and conducted research. As these changes cascade, life sciences companies must also change how they engage with healthcare buyers in order to drive business results. Below are five best practices to help life sciences salespeople achieve greater success in this new era of evidence-based medicine. 1. Adopt a solution-centric sales approach Your sales reps must learn to have solution-centric instead of product- centric discussions. They must understand the clinician’s practice and patient population, and how a solution creates value by lowering costs or improving outcomes. Solution-centric discussions require new skills, such as discovery, collaboration, and solution development. 2. Develop strategic account management discipline As the sun sets on the era of independent physicians with great autonomy, and gives way to the dawning of widespread physician employment and multi-stakeholder decision making, representatives must develop a new skill set. They must focus on solving those critical practice issues that may impact not just an individual physician, but their whole organization. Selling strategically requires sales reps to identify stakeholders and their critical business/practice issues, gain access to the right stakeholders and create a vision of a solution by establishing links between brand value and stakeholders’ critical business/practice issues. 3. Develop your evidence-based medicine (EBM) skills and vocabulary Understand and leverage the principles of evidence-based medicine and know how to speak the language. Many of today’s regulatory changes are focused on the use of EBM to ensure that treatments are based on the best available evidence. Additionally, regulators now require medical schools to teach five levels of competency in EBM. This approach is influencing physicians’ perception of your sales reps. Research shows that EBM holds the strongest customer buying influence, and over 90 percent of physicians want reps to make more use of clinical studies and EBM in their conversations. Thus, representatives must know how to critically appraise clinical data, like the way that physicians are taught, and how to use that information to establish the validity, statistical significance, and clinical relevance of the data. 4. Speak both the clinical and business language fluently Representatives must not only have the ability to speak the language of evidence-based medicine that physicians are expecting, but must also havetheskilltoaddresstheobjectivesandconcernsofkeystakeholders.In 3
  8. 8. 8 © Sales Performance International, Inc the morning, a rep might be speaking about clinical data with the physician representative on the Value Analysis committee of an accountable care organization (ACO). In the afternoon, he or she may be speaking with a finance executive that’s interested in patient outcomes and the impact it will have on the bottom line. 5. Advocate for your customer Your reps may not have all the answers at their fingertips that they need, and will need to access subject matter experts in your organization. They should think of themselves as the quarterback while looking for those solutions for the individual physician or healthcare organization. They must learn to pull from all resources in your company, and at times, across the industry. Healthcare organizations and individuals expect you to provide information that will help them solve critical issues or practice issues. Rally the right expertise and resources. The one constant in life is change, and massive change is rocking the healthcare industry worldwide. Respond to change and you will reap the rewards. Ignore change, and you’ll certainly face some less than desirable consequences. For more insight regarding your sales team and on their readiness to sell in the age of EBM, we invite you to download our Evidence-based Solution Selling skills gap identifier.
  9. 9. 9 © Sales Performance International, Inc WHERE TO DOWNLOAD ASSETS? 01: FREE WHITE PAPER Learn How To Prepare Your Sales Force To Succeed In The Era Of The Affordable Care Act. 02: FREE WHITE PAPER See How Life Science Sellers Can Align And Win With How Healthcare Systems Are Buying Today. 03: FREE COMPETITIVE STRATEGY SELECTOR The New Age Of Evidence-Based Medicine Is Upon Us. Is Your Sales Team Ready? ABOUT SPI Sales Performance International (SPI) is a global sales performance improvement firm. We help the world’s leading companies drive predictable revenue and profitability growth by optimizing sales organization performance. Founded in 1988, SPI has been the leader in helping global companies apply process and methodologies to transition from selling products to marketing and selling high-value, customer-focused solutions. Our extensive sales performance expertise, deep industry knowledge, global resources, and verified results uniquely position SPI as the go-to firm for organizations seeking to gain a competitive edge by how they sell. SPI has assisted over 1,500,000 sales and management professionals in more than 55 countries and 15 languages to achieve higher levels of sales effectiveness. ABOUT THE AUTHOR With over two decades of experience in the life sciences industry as a microbiologist, pharmaceutical sales and marketing leader, and sales training consultant, Brad Ansley leads SPI’s healthcare industry practice. He is a principal developer of SPI’s Evidence- Based Solution Selling methodology, and has helped dozens of companies to improve their ability to sell life sciences industry solutions to their customers.
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