Why Health Plans Are Actually the Simplest Buyers in Healthcare

Note: we didn’t say “easiest.” Selling your service or technology solution into a health plan can be difficult for many reasons. The big five (Aetna, Humana, UnitedHealthcare, Cigna, and Anthem) are structured very differently than the local Blues, which operate differently from regional players. If you’re not targeting the right stakeholder with the right message through the right channels, you can find yourself on a hamster wheel of decision-by-committee, wondering why prospective buyers don’t “get it.” 

We’re here to tell you it’s simpler than it seems. While other B2B audiences in healthcare often operate as nonprofit, mission-driven organizations, health plans operate as relatively straightforward businesses (weird, right?).

In this webinar, we’ll explore common missteps and key strategies for reaching health plan buyers.




Luke Farkas: Welcome, everyone, and thanks for joining. You're likely here because you're trying to sell into what's commonly referred to as one of the most confusing and difficult buyers in the healthcare landscape, which is health plans. But if you read any of our promo material on this webinar, you'll likely see that we're taking a bit of a contrarian viewpoint here. We think that health plans are simple buyers, not easy to sell into, per se, but simple.

We'll talk a little bit more about what that means as we get further into the discussion. It stands to reason that health plans could benefit from most and at least some of the solutions that are represented on this call: health technology solutions, services, organizations, including things like population health, revenue cycle management, social determinants of health programs. But it can be difficult to know where to start. The Big Five are mammoth organizations. The Blues are something totally different, and regional health plans are structured differently still.

So how do you position your solution as the obvious choice to your buyers? And who even are your buyers? That's what we're here to talk about today — to present the findings of our recent research on health plan buyers and to have a frank discussion about what those findings mean and how we've seen them come to life for many of our clients in these audiences.

A note about methods quickly. Our presentation has a lot of graphs and numbers in it. The key instrument that we used for this data was a 60 respondent survey, including a broad swath of different functional leaders, from risk management, to finance, to care delivery. And of course, we use these results directionally, not as gospel. Today, we'll discuss the findings that ring true in our experience and in the market supporting studies as well. In addition to the top line insights we'll discuss today, this research was used to develop a suite of personas, covering many of the most prominent functional leadership roles in health plans. And if you stick around to the end of the webinar, we'll walk through an example of one of those in some detail.

So without further ado, we can jump into introductions. My name is Luke Farkas. I manage our business strategy and growth group. I helped create some of the research that we'll go through today in cooperation with our friends at KRC research.

Also with us today is Tiffany Pack. Tiffany is one of our resident health technology subject matter experts and comes from a deep background of B to B healthcare marketing, specifically in organizations selling into the health plan audience, including MDLIVE, Change Healthcare, and others. She leads strategy for several of our clients who deal with some of those same issues and challenges that she faced in those roles.

Rounding out our team today is Kris Wickline. Kris has a background in both the vendor side and the insurance side, having run integrated marketing strategy at Healthgrades, as well as consumer analytics at Assurant Health on the health plan side, before joining ReviveHealth's strategy function. Kris has a 360-degree view of the discussion we'll have today, so we're excited to have her with us.

As we jump into the main insights section of this webinar, Kris is going to give us an intro into a framework that she and others developed around the driver, the navigator, and the toll collector, as three main archetypes that you can think through your health plan buying audience.

Kris Wickline: Great. So let's dive in. So as Luke already suggested, health plan buying often feels complex to those of us, particularly on the outside, but our research suggests that decision-makers on the inside of health plans don't see it that way. When it comes to who does what, about 89% of plan respondents in our survey said it's clear what everyone's role is in the decision-making process. About the same percentage of folks are satisfied with the process that they have internally. And an even higher amount feel that they have the freedom to make decisions when it comes to their purchases.

So I think our big question is, if they feel so good about it, why does it feel so hard and complicated to those of us on the outside? In our point of view, and why we're doing this webinar, is to illustrate that it's likely just our lack of understanding that makes it feel hard. So continuing with the idea of simplicity, as Luke shared, we have a little analogy to illustrate the buying process in the form of a story with three characters: the driver, the navigator, and the toll collector. I know it sounds like a formula for a really bad joke, but I promise you, it's not. It's a good representation of what we found in our research and actually what we see every day in working with our clients.

Insight #1: Find Your Business Driver

So let's start with our driver. The driver is the business owner or the P&L owner of the solution that you have. This person's going to be the quarterback. They're going to be the one who's carrying the ball forward if they believe in your solution. It's important to remember that their goal and their performance is measured by their P&L. So if you get this person bought into your value, and particularly the value add that you offer over competitors, you're going to find that you increase your chances of success because you're going to have a strong internal champion.

Now, something that you need to keep in mind about P&L owners and health plans is that there's a definite pecking order of importance. So the question you need to ask yourself: is your driver the head of a major business unit at the plan or is their function smaller, and what might be considered rounding error to the bottom line of the plan. Depending on that answer, other influencers such as IT or finance can play a much bigger role in prioritizing how important an initiative or solution is. But any way you look at it, keep in mind that your driver is going to be your key player. You need to identify them early. You need to get them on board.

Okay. So up next is our navigator. When we were thinking about this, we came up with a cool analogy. Navigators function a lot like the Waze app, the app that you might use on your phone, the app that I love when I'm traveling. It is a great analogy because the goal of the navigator, like Waze, is to get the driver from point A to point B. They're not determining the endpoint or where the driver's going, but they can determine how the driver gets there. And they take a couple of forms in health plan decision-making. The first and the most prominent, of course, is IT because IT knows the enterprise tech landscape. They're charged with finding the best solution to fit their technical environment.

You have to remember also that the technical environment is saddled with a patchwork of aging and complex legacy solutions. Now, while IT can be an advocate for a particular solution, like ways the app that we talked about, they're much more focused on finding the best route. And they do this by looking for trouble spots or pitfalls that might be present in getting the driver to their destination. So in that sense, they can be viewed more as skeptics looking for threats. Now, of course, sometimes, they may have a vested interest in leveraging a particular technology or component of a tech solution that might already be part of that complex architecture that they have in place.

So if you have what's considered more of a point solution and you compete with a broader solution set or suite of solutions, that can be viewed as a drawback to these folks because that means they have to take in something new and different. At a bare minimum, you need to have a clear understanding of where you fit and how well your solution interacts with various other technologies, legacy and all, that might be present at your prospect.

So switching gears, finance is another major role that we see functioning as a navigator. And the question that you need to consider when it comes to finance is really, what's the impact of your solution compared to other investment opportunities that exist across the plan because that can cause finance to kill or advance a particular solution. When you think about value, if your solution represents a smaller absolute value, keep in mind that you need to boost perception. And that can come in a variety of different forms. Maybe it's less quantifiable but still important. Things like member experience are really hot topics to plans now.

Maybe your solution is very easy to implement or low-risk to implement. Maybe it's a central necessity to the department that you're serving and offers a real opportunity for efficiency. And this is where your driver is going to serve as your quarterback. They're going to be the ones who are keeping the navigators focused on the total value of your solution. So the key takeaway for this when it comes to finance, in particular, remembers that it's never a binary yes or no decision based solely on the merit of what you've got. It's always a function for these folks of what other opportunities they have across the enterprise.

So now, we come to the last character in the health plan buyer analogy that we put forth, and that's the toll collector. I'm sure you're not surprised to know that this represents procurement. And as the name implies, they're just all about making sure that those using the road are paying the toll. So in the buying process for plans, this comes in the form of making sure that there's a deliberate approach and a focus on cost efficiency. We don't typically see procurement making a major decision-making impact when it comes to specialized tech solutions, but you need to pay respect to the regimented role that they play. And of course, you're going to have to negotiate.

But if you think about the three characters in our story and how procurement fits, if your driver and the navigator are good with the destination and the route, then the toll collector's simply going to collect the change. Negotiating is never going to be easy. Of course, you can expect that. But the leverage you have is also a function of how well your solution ranks against competitors in the minds of the drivers and the navigators. And that's why those are the most important folks, I think, to focus on because they're going to have a much more pragmatic view of what we used to call rack and stack, which is just another way of saying how they see your value relative to that of your competitors. The higher up you are on the rack and stack, the more leverage that you have in negotiating. But any way you slice it, expect tough negotiating from plans.

I want to share a quick story. When I was working at a health plan, the year before the implementation of the Affordable Care Act, there was a major concern around expenses. And for those of us that had high ticket vendor relationships, we were asked across the board to ask our vendors to take 15% cuts in the cost of a contract. And we were told if we weren't embarrassed by the amount that we were asking for, that we weren't asking for enough. So I think that's just a great point to illustrate that it is going to be tough, and you have to be very mindful of what you go in with in the first year because that's going to set you up for future years.

So with the backdrop of our story of the driver, the navigator, and the toll collector, Tiffany's going to tell us a little bit more about what factors are really important in buying decisions that these folks make.

Insight #2: Embrace Your Greatest Marketing Asset

Tiffany Pack: Thanks, Kris. So insight number two: embrace your greatest marketing asset. And by that, we mean your solution. I know from my own experience, particularly in health tech and in earlier-stage health tech, that there can be a tremendous amount of pressure, whether it comes from your PE or VC backed investors, and sometimes even your founding leadership. So they're trying to push profit and drive investor return. This can create that tendency to rush to get things to market and neglect the effectiveness of the offering that you're pushing out there.

So I've also noticed that these same forces and incentives can put sales teams in overdrive. So we've all heard those stories about companies that sell way beyond their capacity to implement and that end up in trouble there.

One of the things that we looked at here as well as from the perspective of embracing your greatest marketing asset, what are the factors that impact buying decisions that these folks make in their roles. And we looked at this from the standpoint of the Big Five versus the Blues plans. So just an interesting post-analysis piece here. I think it's pretty interesting that the top influencers or factors are relatively similar across the organizations. There's a bit of a difference in raking for peer reviews. We found this to be very interesting too. There may be an explanation for that as well.

So I think there are a few things we can interpret from these results. We might say, "Hey, no-brainer," but there's still things that I think we get lost in the hustle of building products and running companies. So the first of those is that even though the peer network recommendations as a buying influence don't fall in as high a priority with these audiences as with some of the work that we did with our hospital C suite folks. That was some research that Luke and the team did about a year and a half ago. I think it's interesting because positive previous experience with a vendor is linked with peer networks and recommendations or reviews in a way.

So if a person's making decisions based on past experience with vendors, which is one of the top ones, and it stands to reason that their recommendations for partners to work with are not very likely to include partners that they've had less than satisfying experiences with. Also, on peer networks and reviews, there's a fairly large difference in the emphasis between the Big Five and the Blues plans. I think this is fascinating and also something worth pointing out. In my time working with various health tech organizations, I always heard the adage, "When you've sold one Blues plan, you've sold one Blues plan." I still think this is true, but Blues peers have, I think, so many more opportunities to interact across the country via the association, via various conferences and that kind of thing.

They may all do things their own way, but they have ample opportunities to network with each other, probably more so than with any of the Big Five. So there's a pretty good likelihood that with one of the Blues plans, that it's going to be known out there. Remember, communicative, so just something to think about.

I probably would also point out here that future sales are highly dependent upon past experiences. So we can use this sort of research directionally to drive home the critical nature of striking the right balance between getting a market-ready product to market and between hitting revenue targets and then protecting the organization's reputation from the results of its sales and marketing success.

Insight #3: Highlight (believable) ROI and Value

Kris Wickline: So the next finding from our research puts a little more teeth around what we see all the time working with our clients, and it's that the buying process within a plan is both formal and very procurement-driven. So going back to our little story of the buying roles, the toll collector is the person who's going to be managing a tight process. This means that you have a few things to consider. Well, first of all, you can't lean solely on the sales tactics or the charm of your sales folks. Your salespeople are going to be important in attracting interest, particularly with your driver, but there's going to be much more to making the sale than just your sales tactics.

Next, expect it to take some time. So our research tells us that over two-thirds of our survey respondents expect the buying process to take over a year. And honestly, we've seen that that can be much longer because it just really depends when your sales process began in the budget cycle and, honestly, where your solution falls in terms of the priority of potential tech purchases across the enterprise. Remember what I shared earlier when talking about our finance navigator, that lower priorities can tend to get bumped. So expect time commitment.

And probably I think the most important implication of this is that the rigid process means that you're going to be judged much more subjectively, and wherever possible, you're going to be compared apples to apples against your competitors. And I think I mentioned the term rack and stack earlier, which again is just a more pragmatic approach to assess priority and preference.

So in this type of formal buying framework, value and specifically the ROI that you offer is going to be front and center and important to illustrate. But remember that value isn't just confined to ROI. It's about the other impacts you have, so things like member experience, ease of implementation, efficiency improvements, some of the things that I mentioned before. But when it comes to demonstrating ROI, we see something really interesting. When tech companies get caught up in the heat of their story, as Tiffany touched on, they can sometimes put out grand promises about their ROI, and that can shoot themselves in the foot, causing more skepticism in the minds of buyers.

Tiffany Pack: Yeah. Kris, if I can jump in there, I would say that in a past life, I worked for a company where our top competitor was out there promising a 10X ROI. And what this did was completely spooked the whole market, so it made our prospects even more skeptical about not only the competition, but by association, what we were doing. So we were out talking about 1.8 or two times our ROI, but we have to double, and triple prove it in a way that we had never had to experience in the market before too. So two cautionary moments there, I think. It's important not to overpromise, and it's important to be ready to prove it as well.

Kris Wickline: Yeah. Thanks for that add. I think, again, buyers tend to hear the same old song and dance, right? So it becomes less and less credible. So all of this illustrates that when it comes to showing your ROI without strong proof points, you've got nothing more than a meaningless "me too" message. You can get into an escalation, as Tiffany mentioned.

So your challenge becomes, what can you offer as strong proof points beyond your words. I think one of the things that we've seen work well and came through in our research is that peers of your prospective clients are credible in offering that proof. So can you get some of your clients, your existing clients, to vouch for your value? Now, doing this is not going to be easy either because it means you're going to be navigating some strong internal policies that plans typically have in place around endorsements. You have to expect that you're going to need to let your clients talk a lot about themselves and the value that they delivered to their organization using your solution. So that inherently means, you're going to have to give up a little bit of control about your message to let them showcase themselves.

But the flip side of this is that when you do that, you're making the message more powerful because you have somebody speaking on your behalf in a much more credible way.

So once you've got these advocates in place, you need to think about the platforms that they can amplify that message. And what we've seen in our research is that leveraging industry events, industry associations, and even trade pubs are very effective strategies. Another type of advocate that we found that can be very helpful, besides your clients, are folks like consultants, academics, sometimes authors, or just opinion leaders that might be present in your vertical. But oftentimes, we find that a lot of tech companies don't have a lot of patience for building and curating these relationships because it can be a slow lift. But it's just a great way to prove value, so we like to encourage folks to think about that as a credible way.

And based upon our experience, building any advocate has to be an ongoing focus, and it's got to be a combination of your sales team, your marketing team, and your PR team. It can't just be a side hustle, and even worse, it can't be a rush when you need a trade show. So the watchwords are being very deliberate and genuine in the efforts that you have around using your advocates.

Now, another method you have for proving your value, depending on the type of product you offer, is, can your company take some risk off of the prospective client that you're talking to to make you more attractive? Now, insurance companies are risk managers. That's what they do day in and day out. So they're going to be receptive to any approach to risk sharing.

A couple of examples that we've seen, starting with the most basic: if you don't deliver the ROI that you promise in your first year, can you rebate some of the cost of your solution or the licensing of your solution? If you don't implement on time, of course, with strict roles and responsibilities clear with your client, can you absorb some of the cost that extended the implementation and cost on the client-side? And lastly, you might have a solution that helps the health plan manage their risks. So, for example, if you have a solution that reduces the cost of caring for a population of their members, can you put together a deal that allows you to take a portion of that cost savings that you generate? Because basically, that's going to prove to your buyer that you've got a really powerful incentive to deliver the return that you're putting in front of them.

So a few key things to remember from this particular finding is, expect that you're going to have to jump through hoops and go through a rigid process and focus on using credible ways to demonstrate your value. But keep in mind that all of this is to improve your position in the rack and stack in the minds of, primarily, your buyers and your navigators.

Now, while I've hit a little bit on leveraging advocates or peers, Tiffany's going to dive deeper and take us through some other effective ways to get the message about your solution out to our health plan buyers.

Insight #4: Participate in Peer Driven Channels

Tiffany Pack: And that takes us to our fourth insight, which is, you've got to participate in these peer-driven channels. It's been the theme of today's discussion thus far. Health plan buyers are skeptics, and, hey, they tend to talk to each other as well. So on this vein in our research, we also examined how these individuals connect and how often.

So what you see here is a chart that looks at each of the channels. And then you'll see across the top, the key to this chart, that the lightest blue is that they're not using this particular channel. The midsection is that they're using it pretty frequently, and then the darker blue, on the right-hand side, is they're using it quite a lot. So you might be thinking, as you look at this chart, "Facebook?" Yeah, Facebook. We were a little surprised at this, too, but then we started to think about how Facebook gets used. I think the way we can think about this high usage of Facebook here is that Facebook masks as a peer network, if you will. It's not so much like a traditional social media channel. So for the more traditional social media channel, you're looking, obviously, at a LinkedIn. And then nothing has replaced yet good old-fashioned peer networking, which they're doing on a fairly regular basis.

One of the other ones to call out is the industry consultant, as one of the ways that they go for channels, like where they're getting information. I think we can think of them a bit like a vector. They intake information from all the client contacts that they're talking to, and then they share those learnings out broadly as they make sense for people that they're talking to.

So all this leads to the message that you've got to be proactive in getting yourself out there. Being there, for one thing, makes life a lot, lot easier for your sales teams and your executives as they go out into the world, not just in terms of lead generation, but also if you think about what it's like to sit in front of a prospect for the first time. You can spend 20 to 30 minutes just explaining who you are. But if through peer networks, they already know who you are, you can spend all your time explaining value and why you're a good fit for that organization.

So I guess one of the things that we would say here is that you don't want to rely entirely on your sales team to do all the work as their boots on the ground. You need to be out there, generating conversations, generating engagement.

The last point I'll make on this is a point we make a lot around social media and content driving to our clients here, and that is, there's a relatively big tendency in healthcare. Health tech companies are maybe a little bit better at it. But to create a content calendar, and then get something out there for every date on the calendar. National Diabetes Day, Heart Disease Awareness Month, whatever the case may be. We would encourage you to choose quality over quantity here. Rather than just trying to get something out there for every day of the week, do less. Do less content. Do less posting. But do things that are well written from the frame of reference of the clients that you're trying to reach. What are you doing? What are you talking about that brings value to them? That's going to be how they remember you.

So I guess you want to be deliberate about the strategic nurturing of leads and then really helping to support those efforts of your sales team.

— Bottom Line —

Kris Wickline: Great. So as we opened up our talk today, those of us on the outside of health plans see the buying process as opaque. I think the good news that we've shared today is that the roles of decision-makers, as well as influencers, are generally really well defined and very simple to dissect. Now, that doesn't at all mean that the process is going to be easy, as we've shared with you. You can expect a long sales cycle. It's going to be complex. If you've got a laser focus on really credibly communicating and demonstrating your value, and then applying the knowledge of some of the unique buyer personas, and tailoring your message in interactions, you're going to increase your likelihood of success.

Now, one of the unique buyers that I mentioned as a navigator is our finance persona. So Luke is going to walk us through an example of the personas that we've developed to give you a deeper view of this decision-maker and help you understand how you can use this knowledge more specifically in your sales and engagement process.

Health Plan Persona Example

Luke Farkas: Great. So as Kris mentioned, when we have these three archetypes, the driver, the navigator, and the toll collector, that helps define the three different roles that you might face when you're looking to sell a solution into the health plan. But who do you fill in those roles with can still remain as a question. That's where we get into the persona work that we've developed as a part of this research as well.

Looking at, rather than the personified people that you might expect to see in standard personas, health plans don't work that way. A COO, for example, doesn't always oversee network development and management, but sometimes they do. So rather than laser focusing on the title of a position in a health plan, we've looked at functional leadership as a separate thing instead.

So as Kris mentioned, we'll jump into the finance leader persona here to give you an idea of what this library looks like and what we've called out as the important elements of a health plan buyer, as far as how they behave, what they prefer, and others. So we'll start in "May Oversee." As you can see, they oversee finance, but also sub-functions of finance, like accounting and billing and contract management. Common titles, you'll find the CFO here, the VP of finance, or even a COO sometimes is the decision-maker for this function.

And then down here in "Confidence in Vendors," I mean, wow, did this surprise us. When we asked finance leaders about their confidence level in vendors to help them achieve their priorities and alleviate their pressing challenges, nearly all of them sited high confidence. This may speak to why this audience is so difficult to win over. Often, there's a cemented incumbent solution that you have to unseat. But regardless, we found it fascinating that among all of the hype that can be in the health tech space and even in the more health services and solutions space, this audience sites high confidence in vendors.

In the "Priorities" section, we found that this audience is very interested in enhancing more creativity and collaboration, likely if we're realistic about the people that we're talking about, with efficiency in mind. They highlight the importance of managing risk, time, and especially the provider relationships.

If you look over in the "Buying Decision Factors," you'll see the heat map, which probably caught the eyes of most of the marketers that are on the call here. If you're a health tech and services marketer, in many ways, this can be frustrating news. Right? Product demos are huge. Consultant recommendations are hot on their heels. And basically, it asks the question, does your solution work, and can you prove it, which is very consistent with come of what Kris was talking about and the importance of highlighting ROI, that Tiffany also touched on as well.

As we move into the second slide here, this is, in some ways, a fascinating slide and, in some ways, a boring slide. From a visual and variety perspective, there's not a lot of variety here. But look at what is unanimous in this audience. This audience thinks in their buying authority that they have final decision-making power or at least secondary decision-making power in health IT solutions, like CRM and Population Health Management; clinical technology and solutions, like VirtualHealth and Post-Acute Care Solutions; operations solutions, like compliance services and member management partners; consumer-facing technologies, like diabetes management platforms, women's health apps, medication adherence solutions.

Across the board, this audience sees themselves as highly strong buying decision-making authority. So they're a very important persona, especially in that navigating role that Kris talked about earlier.

So we discussed many of the implications for marketers here earlier. The uphill battle is being able to differentiate your offering in a meaningful way clearly. The good news is that people can make decisions. The potentially bad news is that you have to prove it, and the solution should be good.

So as we look at this next slide, there's a lot of gold in this slide for marketers in health tech and services solutions. For finance leaders, peer networks and Facebook are both highly credible and high-frequency channels. Of course, Facebook, as Tiffany mentioned, is likely a masked channel for peer networks, but that's worth noting that the peer network is so important in this group. Both frequently visited for information and viewed as high credibility.

When it comes to those medium credibility channels, this audience lists the usual suspects as examples: AHIP for events and associations; McKenzie, Bain and Company, and Deloitte as consultants. And what sticks out there is the high credibility of both Twitter and Facebook as those peer-driven channels that we think that solutions should be an active participant in.

So that gives you, hopefully, a taste of what these personas look like and how they might be able to be helpful in shaping your marketing, sales, and communication strategies with health plan buyers. And that dovetails nicely into our Q&A section.


I noticed, as we were going through this webinar that a question came through about the personas, which was, are you willing to share personas beyond just the finance one that we shared on this webinar? And the answer there is yes. So you'll see a poll pop up here. If you would like to hop on a call and walk through a persona that might be especially interesting to you, that's not the finance one that we just went through, feel free to check that box. We're happy to set up a call and walk you through what might be helpful there. There's also an option to subscribe to the ReviveHealth weekly newsletter, The Weekly Hash, which several of us on this call are regular contributors to. And we're always trying to bring the latest in healthcare to the table and make the complex look simple in that newsletter.

I will look through the rest of these Q&As here and tee up some questions as well. If you have some as we're going through this, feel free to use the Q&A section on the webinar, and we can pick those up as we go with the remaining time that we have.

The first question that I'll start with is, "In the driver, navigator, and toll collector analogy, how do I go about finding my driver?" I figure this is probably a good one with Kris to start with, and we can all add-in if we'd like to.

Kris Wickline: Yeah. That's a great question. I think the easiest way to answer that is to say, follow the money. So it goes back to the P&L. I'm just going to use an example. So say you have a solution that fits care management. I used that earlier. Care management is going to be a stakeholder, certainly, but I would argue that the P&L owners are going to be the product person who is responsible for the product because the P&L and claims cost will roll up to that. And in my experience at health plans, a lot of different functions are viewed as shared services.

So when product owners are managing their P&L, and they see expenses come through, they sometimes actually even band together to tackle solutions that are costly to them because it's hitting their P&L in the form of claims cost. So hopefully, what might look like the driver, you need to keep following the money. There are going to be multiple people weighing in in that example, but your end P&L owner is what you're striving for.

Luke Farkas: Great. The next one that we had was, "Do you have any recommendations as to how to embrace my greatest marketing asset, which you're saying is my solution, when I don't have very much power over how good my solution is?"

Tiffany Pack: Would you like for me to answer that one?

Luke Farkas: I think that'd be great.

Tiffany Pack: Great. I'd say a couple of things just about that. One is that it's a difficult situation, first of all, but as much as you're able, be the voice of logic and reason for your executive team. Learn how to be a valuable contrarian. So marketing responsibility is not only about promoting and getting things out there, but in my way of thinking, it's also about keeping it real and believable. To establish yourself, where you can, as that person who is helping to guide the executive team to make good choices about how you talk about your solutions and how products get brought to market.

Luke Farkas: Perfect. I'll keep running through here because we're having quite a few come in, and it would be great to roll through and ensure that a lot of them are answered here.

So the next one is, "What are examples of powerful incentives that deliver returns for health plans?" I think, Kris, that'd be a good thing for you to touch off on, and I think as a few of us touched on the ROI elements, that'd probably be good to pepper in as well.

Kris Wickline: Yeah. I think the most enticing things tend to be those that relate to taking some element of risk off of your prospect. As I mentioned, if you're lucky enough to have a product that helps them find cost savings within the organization, that's the most powerful risk that you can take, is putting your revenue at risk by sharing in that somehow. But I also think that the other examples that I shared, and I can share an example from some folks that we've worked within the past.

As Tiffany mentioned, there's the tendency to put ROI out there that is extremely high and maybe unbelievable. We have seen clients who, even though they really can prove high ROI, will take it down to make it more believable. And then, in fact, they feel so confident in their ROI calculation that they will say to their prospect, "If you don't achieve this within the first year, we will give you X." And I think, again, that's just another way to show them that you are confident in your solution, you know the value that you're going to deliver, and you're only minimizing the risk. Those are the two most powerful things that I've seen.

Luke Farkas: Perfect. This next question I think I can take because it's about the methods of the research that we presented here. It says, "In the question about how people consume information, Facebook leads, but was there any specificity about what type of information, personal versus professional?"

That's a really good question. We went toward both sides here through two different questions that we asked. It was important to us to know, personal and professional aside, where are people going for information. Period. The second important thing was, as it relates to your professional role, where do you find information that is most credible to buying decisions in that area? So when we look at the frequency, which was the bars on that chart, that was how often do you see information in that platform and how often do you consume it. But you'll also notice, in Facebook's case, there were three dots next to the credibility channel as well, so that meant, "Yes, I look there a lot, and I also find information that I see there relatively credible as it relates to my buying decisions in my professional role as well."

And I think that that speaks to you. I think we all know that no one's going on Facebook to find credible information, like in ads, about their potential solutions that they're buying, but they are going on Facebook to interact with their peers who have a level of understanding about the kind of solutions that they're looking for they can't find elsewhere. So that would be my color commentary there.

You guys have anything to add there? Okay, great.

The next one is, "What are some examples of effective peer networks?" So I think we highlighted the importance of peer networks. Some examples ... I don't know if any pop to mind for you all. I'll speak in relation to what we saw in the research, which was, there weren't a ton of surprises when it comes to events and meetups. I think we saw things like, "AHIP hopping up to the top." Also, some of the annual events from [Becker's 00:41:27] and other places. I think people interact with their peers in both public ways and in more private channels as well, which is difficult as a vendor to get plugged into.

But I don't know. Kris and Tiffany, do you have anything to add here?

Kris Wickline: I would add, from the health plan side, AHIP is extremely credible. And they also oftentimes have subgroups around customer service or different functions that I think that you can leverage. But AHIP has immense credibility within the plan space, for sure.

Tiffany Pack: Yeah. And I would jump in and say too; obviously, I'm probably preaching to the choir here, but never underestimate the power of local, regional meetings and opportunities to connect with people too. I think a lot of the information that we've talked about is how do health plan decision-makers get information from each other. We can certainly insert ourselves there. You can get opportunities to talk about value and peppering in things about your product by doing presentations at local meetings and that sort of thing.

But really working more on that one-on-one grassroots, and then again, as we discussed when we talked about the actual channels themselves, make sure that what you're putting out there is not just fodder for the sake of fodder. Try to make sure that what you're putting out there is super valuable, and it's something that people are going to share, and then leverage within the peer networks that they're in.

Luke Farkas:

Great. And that wraps up our Q&A section. I believe that we hit all of them that were submitted, which is great. Thank you all so much for joining our webinar on What Makes Health Plans the Simplest Buyer in Healthcare.

Of course, this poll is still up. There's still time to check a box there. We look forward to the conversations with you in followup to this webinar. And as always, don't hesitate to reach out, and subscribe to our Weekly Hash, so that you're getting all of our most updated content. We appreciate you joining today, and we will catch you in the next one.