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Sales and Marketing tune up!

How is your firm doing with sales goals as of the first quarter?  Are your targets even tougher this year than last?  When was the last time sales presentations, marketing programs, and web presence evaluated by an outsider possessing an objective and experienced buyer’s perspective?

As an industry veteran serving 18 years as a leading hospital and healthcare system Chief Information Officer (CIO), I’ve had the “pleasure” of sitting through hundreds of sales presentations, many sharing common messages and themes. Here are a few of them:

  • “We are all about us – how great we are, how long we have been around, how honored and admired we are.  How lucky you will be if we make a deal with you.”
  • We are the greatest new service or model. We offer amazing returns/savings/growth with ease!”
  • “We are all about quality, and you can be too! Just buy or engage us to see your operating challenges magically disappear.”
  • “We are the best. Just look at our objective comparison of features, functions, and services compared to our would-be competitors.”
  • “We make doctors, nurses or patients happy. If you care about them, you will buy or engage us.”

As a CIO, I was nearly impossible to get on a sales call. When I did, the sales teams rarely bothered to ask why I was interested enough to take the meeting in the first place. Revenue growth is hard. I have sympathy for sales executives who tackle this challenge every day, especially if they were trying to get my attention – but I could never show that. So here are a few ideas to consider for improving your pitch:

  1. Start by asking why you got the meeting. What business problem or goal motivated the buyer to accept the call?  Maybe it’s just curiosity about a new player, product or service.  Maybe a senior executive is doing someone a favor. Maybe there are specific needs that are important enough to be addressed.  To start, it will be good to know why you are in the room.
  2. Know to whom you are speaking. Often, especially in large organizations, a meeting is with a group that shares a common set of interests, perspectives, and goals. Clinicians want personal convenience, safety, and clinical quality. Operators want efficiency and reliability. Finance wants reduced operating costs, low total cost of acquisition and ownership and a substantial ROI.  IT leaders want the current cool tool.  Speak to each of these and other stakeholders using language and arguments that address their specific values and interests. If you are in a mixed group, be sure to have at least one slide for each special-interest group in the room.
  3. Segment the market and tailor pitches according to how each segment thinks. Segments share common needs, but there are worlds of difference in how they make decisions.  Some value consistency and discipline over autonomy and freedom. Others focus on cost (spend the most or spend the least), where the cost is often seen as an indicator of quality.  Sometimes reputation is key. Be careful to speak to buyers from their point of view and values, not from yours or a generic set of guesses about what you think they want.
  4. Be realistic about your targets. If you are a startup/early stage solution vendor, focus on prospects that are more likely and capable of making a quick purchase decision. If you are a more established player, recognize where your organization is on the maturity/size scale and target prospects at, below and slightly above your current portfolio of successful clients. Avoid overreaching for “bigs” until ready. They do not often engage with smaller vendors, can take forever to make a decision, and probably won’t tell you clearly that they are “not that into you.”
  5. Finally, build and guard your reputation. As growth is earned, a robust portfolio of highly successful clients will sing your praises, recommend you to their peers and serve as references to prospects. The product may be a tool or a service, but it must be a practical solution for clients if sales are ever going to accelerate. That means being proactive and thoughtful about a client’s outcomes and progress. Choose your prospects carefully and target organizations that will succeed with the product. Build deployment, support, and packaging to eliminate as many derailleurs and variables as possible on the road to sound outcomes. An excellent reputation will open many doors and close many deals.

BrightWork Advisory can help you shorten sales cycles and improve closure rates. How? We look at your current practice from the perspective of a potential buyer.  Leveraging our 30+ years of purchasing/selection and healthcare operating experience, we can inform your sales and marketing programs by helping simplify value messages, focus on prospect needs, and message for key decision makers.  It’s only the first quarter, when all things are still possible, but are they probable?  Let us help you meet and exceed 2018 targets.

Engagement opportunities are still available. Contact josephgseay@brightworkadvisory.com today to discuss your individualized sales/marketing review.

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