I’ve spent most of my career at the customer interface, as the subject matter expert helping sales teams craft targeted services and products to deliver success and impact for customers. So I was a bit perplexed with the frustration I heard in recent conversations I had with innovators at hospitals.
They were saying tech vendors need more smarts bridging what they bring and the solutions that actually can help hospitals. There is a disconnect between how tech vendors approach hospitals with their shiny new products and how hospitals want to be approached.
Who is doing the bridging?
I’m accustomed to tech vendors using subject matter experts in the business development lifecycle to identify and map solutions for the customer. So, with the growth of innovation teams at hospitals, I expected a counterpart at the hospital would know best what they needed and search for and source the right tech.
Alas, not everyone has a John Browstein to help them with this. While all the folks I spoke with are quite capable translating hospital needs into solutions, the number of stakeholders in the hospital and the variety and quality of all the vendors make this problem-solution matching difficult and hard to scale. Surprisingly, there usually isn’t anyone who does this bridging at the hospital. And the vendors might not realize the expectation they come prepared to do this bridging.
So what are these hospital folks telling me is the right way to approach them with new products?
Missing a “je sais quoi”
These hospital folks told me that the usual script for a tech vendor is “Hi, I’m tech company. I’ve made something so good for you, you’ll pay me to evaluate it, prove the claims, and deploy it.”
The problem with this script is that tech vendors need to prove things before making claims, understand how to speak with customers, and understand what customers value.*
Hence, I’ve summarized what I’ve been told is missing when approaching a hospital with your shiny new product:
- Prove it: Back up your claims with good proof. The hospital production system is not the place for your guesses to be validated. Though, I am sure the hospital might be interested in mutually beneficial collaboration to validate your claims (i.e. they will not pay you to validate your claim).
- Do your homework: Stop bugging folks asking them what their problems are. The problems hospitals have are quite well published, so you should not have the hospital teach you what you already should know. Indeed, this is why vendors have subject matter experts: to be able to credibly talk to customers.
- Come with a perspective: Don’t fish around trying to match your solution to the hospital problems. If you’ve done your homework, you can show up and present how you think your solution specifically addresses the customer’s problems.
- Understand the layers of value: Be smart about what the different stakeholders want to achieve, and provide that value. All too often tech vendors miss the value the customer can bring to the solution or how to advance the aspirational goals of the customer. Value goes both ways. Especially with emerging technologies.
Business development and solution design
I’m passionate about improving the way healthcare organizations engage with customers, patients, and families. And I am constantly trying to improve how I can help healthcare tech vendors better serve these healthcare organizations, such as using a framework for successful business development and patient-centric solution design. Therefore, I have always been aware of the value of having a proven product, knowing the customer, and delivering value at every step.
Nonetheless, hospital innovators have made it clear that tech vendors need to get better at doing their homework before they even approach a customer. This is up to us on the tech vendor side. We can’t be lazy and expect the customer to understand our product and know how to use it. The more homework we do, the better we match the value of the product to stakeholder goals and aspirations, and the stronger our perspective, the easier it’ll be for customers to see a path for our solutions in their hospitals.
What do you think? Are you a hospital who has similar frustrations with tech vendors who do not do their homework? Let me know.
Are you a tech vendor who needs help with homework? Do you need help validating your product, establishing your perspective, or understanding customer aspirations? Contact us.
*Each of these points have many further insights I’d be glad to share
Image from John Bolland