I read a recent study from RockHealth on “How to approach the enterprise healthcare customer relationship.” They had surveyed and interviewed digital health startup founders and healthcare executives to answer three key questions for understanding how to successfully sell to the enterprise healthcare customer:
1. What type of relationship do enterprise customers want with startups—and how should startups approach potential customers?
2. What are pilots for—and are they being used correctly?
3. Healthcare sales cycles are long. How can startups get their pitches to the right enterprise buyers quickly?
I was pleased to read that some of their key findings echoed what I have been saying all along.
Nuggets from the study
I always value studies or feedback that validate the insights I have developed over the many years of selling to healthcare. Indeed, when I advise companies, many who are trying to wrap their head around the eccentricities of healthcare, having examples that go beyond my own experience is important.
The study report is short, so I suggest you to read it. Nonetheless, I’ve highlighted a few of items for you:
Know the competition and Make your customer feel special: Healthcare executives want vendors to demonstrate differentiated offerings. And they also what to know that you did your home work and are focused on the value you can bring specifically to them and their individual needs.
Selling “pre-MVP”: The executives did call out folks selling before the product is validated or even built. On the one side, this can be risky; on the other, it might open up the opportunity to collaborate with the customer in making and validating the product. I talk about this as “understanding the layers of value” of the customer, not only what you bring them, but what they bring to you.
“Startups are often looking for validation on their product concepts rather than pitching a developed and well-vetted product. I’d rather someone ask if they can pick my brain and get perspective on how to build their product so it solves a problem. We often want to work with startups on their product. They shouldn’t oversell and overcommit capabilities they don’t have.”
from How to approach the enterprise healthcare customer relationship (RockHealth)
Finding the buyer: The study pointed out the need to find the right buyer, stressing the need for a “special someone” who can champion the project. I had mentioned this before as a barrier for adoption of analytics, but I have realized since that this is a barrier for adoption of any new tech.
Some new things for me to ponder
Storytelling: One item the study teased out was the need to tell a good story. A good story not only helps the buyer grok what you are selling and why, but also helps them share it with colleagues as they try to convince others of your worth.
While I take this for granted, since this is how I sell normally, I should have expected this to figure prominently in a survey of best practices for selling.
Pilots: There is no surprise that a survey on selling digital health to enterprises would call out pilots. Indeed, I have spoken about “death by pilot” before, and how to ensure you have a solid foundation that leads to a successful sale.
But the survey came up with some interesting insights into pilots, especially because 60-70% of the pilots of the startups in the study converted to full customers. For example, there was little difference between paid or unpaid pilots. Indeed, one CEO suggested pricing pilots higher than the final customer license. Also, the study mentions the balance between chasing more pilots and going straight to a sale.
What I do
I am pleased to see elements of the organizational construct, attention to the value of pilots, and doing your homework showed up in this best-practices report. This report will now be part of the links I share with the companies I advise.
How does this report echo what you’ve been experiencing while trying to sell your solution to healthcare customers? Are you struggling with your strategy? Do you need help doing your homework and understanding what your customers needs?
Image from flickrfavorites