For digital health entrepreneurs to truly grab the moment, the focus must be on building an exceptional marketing engine along with these transformative products.
Many digital health entrepreneurs assume that their technology solves a problem, e.g. B. lower costs, better access, and better clinical outcomes. But in healthcare, resolving a large and significant customer challenge is only half the battle. Commercial healthcare sales cycles are rarely shorter than 18 months, and the process can be complex and variable. Navigating from initial contact, through a small pilot project, to a paid contract in a single hospital or hospital is a complex endeavour.
Exceptional execution of a prudently considered go-to-market plan consistently separates winners from losers when building an early-stage healthcare business. So what are the answers to a successful marketing strategy?
Table of Contents
Understand the executive reality.
B2B sales cycles in healthcare are longer and more complex than software products in other industries. Several aspects are driving this. For example, healthcare organizations are often large and have evolved to address a wide range of needs, focusing on quality and risk management over pace. This means that distributed decisions are made. Decisions are usually made by committees, even in the smallest departments, and it takes time and skill to reach a consensus to launch new products and processes.
To make things even more challenging, companies often need the support of a diverse set of stakeholders. Stakeholders may include administrators, doctors, nurses, other healthcare professionals, and patients, depending on what you offer. Each of these groups may have different perspectives and motivations. It takes time to build relationships and understand where stakeholders are coming from
Healthcare leaders also have a limited amount of cognitive skills and time to focus on “providers,” meaning that aspects of day-to-day operations other than patient care – rightfully take precedence. Therefore, it is crucial to comprehend the priority of your customers. Consequently, growth and adoption of new technologies can often be uneven, and lead generation and revenue conversion mechanics may not be obvious. Therefore, tying investor expectations to realistic revenue milestones and goals is crucial. Equally important is a consistent emphasis on capital efficiency.
Find your in-house health policy expert
Since provider organizations have large differences in size, structure and business model, it is crucial to develop a deep understanding of your target market early on. In the US, unaided, there are 4,000 hospitals, of which about 1,000 are Academic Medical Centers (AMCs). The remaining 3,000 organizations include national and local chains and urban and rural community hospitals. In addition, there are outpatient surgery centres, emergency centres, outpatient clinics and outsourced speciality providers. A lot of time and capital can be wasted trying to sell your product or service to the wrong customer in this complex network. The most effective teams analyze this diverse landscape, identify the best reference market for their solution, and develop a broader go-to-market plan.
See-through someone else’s eyes
All service providers need to spend time understanding the organizational structure of their prospects. Key stakeholders, their needs and problems – that’s Business Sales 101. But as discussed above, the complexity in Healthcare Sales comes from the wide variety of functions and perspectives it becomes to have. Be exposed. It is very important to think prudently about what is important to the different stakeholders you work with rather than what you want them to care about.
Smart businesses recognize that administrators, physicians, and patients are likely to make decisions based on vastly different motivations. Which can often serve conflicting purposes. A product that increases reimbursement for one doctor may result in less activity for another. Showcasing the efficiencies of automating clinical pathways may appeal to a manager trying to reduce costs but less to a physician concerned that their function will become a commodity. Be mindful of these contradictions and have empathy for their origin.
Physicians have experience many healthcare IT solutions that were originally advertise as game changers and made their daily lives significantly more difficult. Especially for clinical staff, don’t be surprised if you encounter some distrust of products. That digitize aspects of the healthcare value chain. Partnering with clinical thought leaders as a means of creating awareness and credibility for your solutions can be a helpful way to demonstrate why you are bringing something different to the table.
Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence
Even if a product shows a clinical impact, there must be an associated commercial reason for its implementation. Healthtech teams often develop population-level economic analyses based on theoretical operating profits. Still, there’s no substitute for a case study that clearly shows your product’s impact on sales or bottom line—the higher and faster the return on investment for the healthcare organization, the better. Building a meaningful case study isn’t easy and often depends on a certain level of resource commitment from your first clients, but having one will pay off. It’s really important to prioritize planning and execution.
Make your goals clear
All of your interactions with customers must have a clear purpose. This could be revenue, an ROI case study, or a means of developing your product. But whatever it is, you need to clear the end goal and ensure the customer is fully aligne. Without this clarity, it’s too easy to get stuck in a tangle of meetings and bureaucracy or deliver far more than planne with nothing to show for your efforts.
When it comes to conducting a pilot, it is always optimal to negotiate the paid contract at the same time. Clarity is also good here. If you can reference a set of KPIs to demonstrate success. You have a better chance of converting to revenue once the pilot is complete. This may take longer initially, but it saves time later. Creates an in-game look from the customer’s perspective, and creates a smoother path to long-term sales.
Building a B2B digital healthcare business is difficult. But the potential for software solutions to significantly impact the health and well-being of customers. Be they hospitals, medical staff or patients, is immense. We are witnessing a pivotal moment as the coronavirus pandemic accelerates the adoption of technology in healthcare in ways unimagined in early 2020. Aimed at digital health entrepreneurs to truly seize the moment, the focus should be on developing an extraordinary goal. A marketing Engine along with these transformative products.