Those that are regularly out on territory promoting medical devices will understand the challenges that are being faced when trying to gain access to their target audience. In the last few years it has become increasingly difficult to communicate with customers directly due to increased work demands on clinicians, increased control measures by procurement teams, increasing competition and increasing use of the internet to answer queries and gain further insights. There is no evidence to support a change in the current environment and, if anything, you can only expect access to become more challenging. What then can you do in order to stay relevant, remain in contact with your clinicians and ensure you continue to have the opportunity to influence the choice of products that your target market decide to use?
There has been a lot written about the adoption of social selling methods to help sales teams hit quota as traditional methods, whilst still relevant, can no longer be relied upon in isolation. It’s fair to say that the medical industry has been slower to adopt these social selling methods but the difficulties in gaining access to your target audience is evidence enough that additional methods must be considered if you are to remain competitive. Fundamentally, the buyers journey has changed, clinicians no longer require the support of the medical sales representative alone. Yes, some clinicians still prefer to interact with a salesperson to make their purchasing decisions but this is certainly not the case for all and there are growing examples of purchasing decisions being made without any input from a sales person, or their company, at all. Most commonly we see contact being made further along in the buyers journey when initial research, and validation, has already been completed. It is important for organisations to adopt methods to help influence these decisions using digital methods, and that includes input from the sales team, as well as marketing, if you are to be successful.
In addition to the impact of these changes on the opportunity to win new business is the impact it is having on existing accounts. There are increasing examples of customers changing away from their current supplier without any prior warning! This makes business planning, and forecasting, an even greater challenge. No longer can suppliers rely on loyalty from key customers to help ensure the retention of business particularly with a greater number of stakeholders having an input on purchasing decisions.
In order to reduce the risk of losing business, as well as to winning new accounts, you must continue to innovate. Not just innovate with the products you bring to market but innovate the way in which you promote, and support them, within the market! How can you continue to add value, improve customer service, and educate your customers? It’s important you consider these questions if you are to remain relevant to your customers and stay ahead of the competition!