Insider Perspectives on Medical Device Sales Strategies

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Rapid industry consolidation is a challenge that healthcare suppliers and manufacturers have contended with for the past several years. But industry-wide value-based care initiatives and cost-cutting measures have since compounded this issue—making it increasingly difficult for suppliers like medical device companies to sell into the healthcare space. The good news for medical device manufacturers? You’re not alone.

On February 27, Definitive Healthcare hosted a panel discussion on medical device sales strategies and buyer perspectives. The panel featured both provider and supplier experts:

    • Bart Lubberts, M.D., Ph.D., Director of the Massachusetts General Hospital, Harvard Medical School Foot and Ankle Research and Innovation Laboratory (FARIL)
    • Amy Pyke, Senior Director of Reimbursement and Market Access at Stryker Instruments – ENT
    • Natali Lenning, Vice President of Clinical & Market Research at Applied Medical
    • Natasa Dugandzic, Corporate Accounts Director at Exactech

Your peers in the medical device industry discussed the challenges that they face in executing their go-to-market strategies, how they’re evolving to fit the needs of a changing industry, and how they’re leveraging physician insights to strengthen their sales approach. In case you weren’t able to tune in, here’s what you missed.

What is a core challenge in selling medical device tools in today’s market?

All three supplier panelists agreed that industry consolidation poses a major challenge for medical device manufacturers looking to sell into the existing market.

Last year, Definitive Healthcare tracked a total of 294 mergers and acquisitions  among hospitals and IDNs. Consolidation of this magnitude creates larger health systems—shifting the buying decision from the physician to a centralized supply area or administrative body. This makes it more difficult for suppliers to identify and access the key decision makers.

Some panelists acknowledged that this consolidation has even impacted the supplier side. Large medical device manufacturers have begun to acquire other, smaller companies. This not only increases competition among suppliers, but also creates new challenges for small, specialized suppliers with less market influence.

According to one panelist, however, this obstacle presents a unique growth opportunity. Natali Lenning of Applied Medical says that understanding the market consolidation has helped her company position their field implementation and sales teams to better address changing customer needs and align their organization accordingly.

How do you understand and leverage a clinician’s priorities?

Dr. Bart Lubberts provides invaluable insight here into the buyer’s perspective, and how best to position your sales pitch for success. “Most important for suppliers in this industry,” he says, “is getting in touch with the right key opinion leader.”

Clinicians are very, very busy. It can be difficult to connect with the right clinician and, if you do, it’s likely that they won’t have much time to give to you. So, what’s the solution?

As someone who interacts both with industry representatives and providers, Dr. Lubberts suggests connecting first with an intermediary like him to learn more about a given clinician’s expertise, and whether they might be willing to provide their insight or opinion on a medical device. Once you’ve identified the right contact, it’s okay to reach out directly to the clinician.

As Natasa Dugandzic explains, the field sales team at Exactech follows these first steps when identifying the right key opinion leader:

    • Research the physician
    • Learn more about their background and medical training
    • Examine their competitive position in the market
    • Identify their clinical philosophies, and
    • Review their published papers

Marrying all of this information together, she says, allows the sales team to connect those clinician priorities with the priorities and challenges of their respective health system—allowing for a more meaningful sales conversation.

How do you demonstrate the value of your medical device?

In preparing a value proposition, it’s important to remember that a medical device must provide value for the patients, the payers, and the providers. “But the idea of value,” Amy Pyke explains, “isn’t simply limited to cost versus utility.”

Pyke says that patient outcome and experience should be just as high priority in medical device development as product quality and cost. But how do you balance company needs with customer needs? With collaboration.

At Stryker, for instance, Pyke says that sales and product development teams are beginning to collaborate with customers in understanding the role that their medical device can play in assisting along the care continuum. This level of customer engagement not only supports product improvement, but also helps to reaffirm the product value.

Along those same lines, Lenning says that tailoring their medical device message down to the individual customer—including what the facility needs are—helps Applied Medical facilitate stronger sales conversations and shorten the selling cycle.

In familiarizing themselves with each new facility, Lenning explains, Applied Medical relies on a few key metrics. These include:

    • Procedural volumes
    • Payer mix
    • Reimbursement, and
    • Quality metrics

Payer mix metrics can reveal details about the facility’s patient population—namely, whether the facility treats high volumes of either Medicare or Medicaid patients. Quality metrics are other key data points for medical device companies to track. If, for instance, a hospital is performing poorly in certain quality metrics, this might reveal an opportunity to improve care quality in one or more specific areas.

Learn more

Interested in learning more tips and tricks for strengthening your medical device sales strategy? Take a look at our blog about physician impact in medical device sales to read more about leveraging physician insights, customizing your value proposition, and accessing the data that can help you identify the right key opinion leaders.

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