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4 Tips to Sell Your Solution to the Hospital C-Suite

A Conversation With OU Medicine CSO, Brian Maddy

Health technology and service companies are selling into one of the most challenging and complex buyer sets in business today: the hospital C-suite. A mix of legacy and progressive priorities blend together with both clinical and business imperatives, which makes this particular audience tough to pin down.

To explore the buying priorities of the hospital C-suite, we had the pleasure of speaking with OU Medicine’s Chief Strategy Officer, Brian Maddy, in our Know Thy Buyer webinar. From the discussion, we extracted four tips that can help any health technology or services company hone their messaging and strategies to fit the preferences of hospital C-suite members.

1) Do Your Homework and the Extra Credit

Obviously, you’re not going to fly blind when it comes to marketing and selling your solution. However, “doing your homework” entails much more than a simple profile of your target audience or prospect. It means understanding what factors set one hospital or health system apart from its peers that may look very similar.

For example, OU Medicine isn’t just like every other Academic Medical Center (AMC). In fact, it’s unlike most others. Oriented in the center of the country, OU Medicine focuses less on progressive payment models than some AMCs on the East or the West coast, like UCLA Health. They’re also a new organization, having recently bought out HCA, and become a 501(c)(3) with few umbrella tech systems and services unified under the OU Medicine brand. Understanding the challenges of an early-stage non-profit AMC in the Southern/Midwest region is critical to providing a real solution to the OU Medicine C-suite. Maddy said it best:

“It’s really important for the vendor to do their homework about who OU Medicine is, for example. What are our strategic initiatives? What do we have going on? It’s much more impressive if a vendor can tell us who we are from the outside looking in, as opposed to us having to tell them.”

2) Request a Roundtable

We asked Brian how he would recommend health technology companies nuance their solution and sales process to reach unique systems. He answered by recommending an approach that we’ve found successful for our clients as well:

“Request a roundtable with members of the C-suite so that you can engage in conversation about the direction their organization is headed, and how your offerings can actually be part of a solution for them. Demonstrate the willingness to custom-tailor your solution in that way can help existing business challenges.”

At ReviveHealth, we’ve found that this approach can help save both parties a lot of time, effort, and heartbreak. The roundtable approach is great for uncovering two common deal-breakers faster than any other method: chemistry roadblocks and problem/solution alignment.

3) Embrace the Complexity of the Buying Committee

It’s easy to get tongue-in-cheek with quippy comments about how you need 10 people to sign-off on a buying decision in the hospital, while everyone has veto power. We know how frustrating it can be for a tech or services solution to navigate the labyrinth of decision-makers and influencers involved in selecting your solution.

Yet, the uncomfortable truth is that it needs to be that way. Maddy confirmed our suspicion that hospitals come by their complex buying process honestly:

“Decision-by-committee is definitely real. I am not saying the CEO and the Chairman of the Board don’t ultimately have the ability to make the decision, but you have to have everyone in the game to make the decision today.”

The reality is that health systems are new to many of the processes and technologies that they’re implementing, and until they have a better grasp on it all, a collection of specialists is necessary in order to make a decision. Typically, your solution will cause a ripple effect that penetrates further throughout the hospital or health system than even you (as the vendor) know. You have to be open to learning from each silo of the hospital or C-suite you’re selling to.

4) Build Trust by Knowing Your Limits

Your prospective buyers may be working to solve a problem that your solution doesn’t solve. That is where clarity is imperative. Hospital C-suite buyers appreciate when vendor organizations are honest about what their offering does — and what it doesn’t do. Even if it causes you to lose the short-term contract, you gain trust that pays dividends down the road.

Maddy gave vendors some advice:

“Understand that if your offering won’t solve the problem for now, it’s best to admit it and be transparent. It will solidify the foundation of trust you’ve built with the C-suite, and it is the credibility and the trust that keeps your solution top-of-mind for the next sales cycle.“

Although the sales cycle for vendor solutions can range from three to even seven years, the pace of change calls for re-evaluation on a much shorter cadence. Further, you will build a trusted reputation that spreads quickly across the C-suite peer network. Ensure that your value proposition is top-of-mind for hospital C-suite members each time they look out in the market.

We’ve just barely scratched the surface. For a more comprehensive view of our Know Thy Buyer research, check out our findings report, where we explore the four consistencies we saw across all 14 C-suite positions we surveyed. To hear our entire conversation with Brian Maddy, check out our Know Thy Buyer webinar.

May 25, 2018
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