Growing Successful Selling Relationships in the Healthcare and Medical Industry
September 4, 2019 By Paul Cherry Leave a comment
Growing successful selling relationships in the healthcare market is vital to staying connected to your customers and fending off the competition. Having worked with many leading healthcare, medical device , biotech and life sciences organizations, I’ve witnessed how easy it is for sales reps to take relationships with their customers for granted. You may think you have a solid selling relationship. But there will always be completive forces to contend with.
Other contacts within your customer’s organization may have their own favorite suppliers and pet projects — deploying available resources from your budget. And other suppliers are constantly knocking at the door, looking for a way in. The reality is that if your customer relationship isn’t moving forward, it will sooner or later start moving backward.
Taking Your Healthcare Customer Relationships for Granted
In my experience, sales pros often overestimate the quality of these selling relationships. They assume if the buyer is a longtime customer, never complains, or continues to place orders, then the relationship is fundamentally solid. Then, boom — the rug gets pulled out from under them. Without warning, the customer announces that…
- They are looking at other vendors to save money
- They have already decided to switch
- The company is being acquired
- A key contact has been replaced
- The new bosses have their own preferred vendors.
Or suddenly the your customer lays out a long list of concerns about:
- Shipments of much-needed orthopaedic devices
- Delays in surgical and laboratory equipment
- Quality of new cell imaging systems
- Lack of new ideas in vaccine distribution
- Poor responsiveness in aligning medical sales reps with key relationships in the hospital buying process.
It’s the Sales Pro’s Responsibility to Maintain Healthy Medical Industry Relationships
When the selling partnership starts “going south,” sales reps often feel betrayed and blindsided. But in most cases, it’s their own fault. They’ve created the situation. Many times, they secretly knew that things weren’t perfect. They failed to be proactive about the status of the relationship. Either they were too afraid to ask, or they assumed that the customer would take it upon themselves to raise concerns in a fair and timely manner.
But look at it from your customer’s perspective; they have to watch out for their own company’s wellbeing. It’s not their job to work on your relationship. Just like you, the customer wants to avoid conflict and drama. They are worried about giving you a “heads up,” and fear that if the sales rep is aware they are looking at other vendors, you won’t give them their money’s worth.
Top Sales Questions to Ask Your Healthcare Industry Customer
If you wait for your medical industry customer to determine the status of your relationship, you risk hearing about it after they have taken their business elsewhere. Instead, be proactive and monitor your customers by asking them these questions:
- What is it that you value most about doing business with us?
- In what ways are we helping you to achieve your goals?
- How can we create more value for you and your organization?
- In what ways can we improve?
- What changes do we need to make to ensure greater success?
- What goals would you like to see us accomplish in the next twelve months?
- Would you be willing to serve as a reference for my product or company? If so, can you elaborate on what you would say about us? If not, why not?
- What will it take on our part to win the business you are giving to our competition?
Discover What Your Healthcare and Medical Customers Really Need
Many sales reps avoid these kinds of questions. Why? Because they are afraid of the answers. After all, what if customers respond that they are not satisfied?
What if they want faster turnarounds, greater discounts, and higher quality? How do you respond? You respond with gratitude and a desire to meet those requests by asking for things in return.
What if your customer wants better pricing?
You get him to commit to purchasing greater volume.
What do you do if your customer wants faster turnaround?
Price those projects at a premium, in order to get the extra attention, commitment, and support that your customer actually values.
What if you already know your service or quality is “not up to snuff”?
Then there is no need to ask any questions at all. Instead, fix the problem first, then ask whether the fix was successful. (If you fail to ask, your competition will surely do it for you!)
Growing successful selling relationships is always a two-sided proposition. So don’t be afraid to ask what you can do to enhance the customer partnership — and don’t be afraid to ask your customer for something in return.