In our meetings with clients, this is a very frequent refrain, often stated after a large sale has been lost and no one is sure why.
At HSP, we support the strategy of entering accounts high and getting into administration early. However, this is not as simple a task as telling your people to call on the CEO.
Before singing this tune, ask yourselves these questions:
1. Is there a Trigger Event that has launched a project or initiative for your opportunity at a high level? A Trigger Event causes a senior person in the customer organization to agree that they MUST act and to demonstrate that they will act by allocating resources or funds. If the Trigger Event has not occurred, no high-level calls should be made except to create or hook into a Trigger Event. It is impossible to advance a buying process without a Trigger Event. No Trigger Event, no buying process. No buying process, no sales process.
2. Is this a last-ditch effort meant to address prior patterns in positioning or ineffective selling? Will going high now, during the sales cycle permanently ruin a pre-existing relationship? If you elect to take this action, don’t focus on the most senior title. Chose the right person for your message.
3. Do your people have the tactical skills to conduct a meeting at this level? If the answer to this question is no, they should have health-care specific training on the content of these conversations and secondly, mentoring with their manager or field trainer to help them develop the skills and confidence necessary to be successful.
4. Do you have a non-clinical message that would resonate? The days of a strong clinical value proposition being enough to be successful are long gone. In today’s complicated selling environment, the sales team must be able to communicate their value proposition from an economic, operational and strategic perspective in addition to the standard clinical messaging.
5. Is there a very clear understanding of the health system buying process and is the target person at the C-Level even involved? It is our belief that there are several sub-processes in play in the health system buying process of today. The salesperson must be able to articulate the objective of each stage, the people involved, the clinical and financial criteria being evaluated, the exit criteria and the criteria to advance to the next stage. The idea is to understand what the health systems wants to know and do at each stage and to provide them the specific information they require in the language that is comfortable for them based on the Spheres of Influence. It is quite possible that the C-Suite is not involved in the buying process.
6. Is there a valid strategic initiative that is underway in the health system that your solution can positively impact? Are you targeting the person who owns this initiative? If I am working for a hospital and my performance is measured based on reducing HAC, I will be very interested in discussing anything that can help me achieve my objective.
7. Do you truly understand the KPIs of the system and facility and how your solution might positively or negatively impact the KPIs? Any time a system measures their performance based on a set of metrics, not only is there visibility on this initiative, there is also funding.
It is our belief that “getting to the C-Suite” is a tactical response to a strategic problem. Companies that have valuable conversations with administration have armed their people with the necessary skills and messaging to ensure that they gain access to and conduct a professional conversation with health system executives.