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Teams—Not Tools—Communicate Value

ValueConnected

It has been a few months since my presentation in Brussels for the Commercial Leaders Forum . As always, NextLevel Life Sciences provided a great summit to meet with both new and old colleagues to discuss the latest innovative approaches that medical device companies are taking toward clinical and non-clinical stakeholders.

During the summit, speakers discussed real instances of how market engagement has accelerated market access and successfully positioned medical innovations to decision-makers. I was amazed by the quality and diversity of the discussions; they offered strong, key learning points that all medical companies would benefit from. It was a great opportunity to learn from others and also share some of my experiences.

Yet out of all the conversations, one topic really struck me.

In spite of the diversity of the discussions, most of the speakers touched on one particular subject: commercial teams are not prepared to communicate value to non-clinical stakeholders. This means that all the investments in tools, value dossiers, reimbursement applications, etc., are not generating the expected return for companies.

So what does that really mean? Two things: frustration and resistance.

I explored this topic with colleagues and noticed how frustrated those who had invested money, time, and other resources were with the lack of adoption of certain tools and strategies. However, commercial teams cannot be blamed: after all, they were trained to approach physicians and nurses, not purchasing managers, hospital directors, or tender committees.

One of the most common human cognitive biases is that we overestimate short-term changes and underestimate long-term changes. Simply put, providing commercial teams with tools does not necessarily change their discomfort in talking about the economic value of products.

We have been aware of this market pain since ValueConnected’s launch in 2013, and have since focused on the most important aspect of value communication: teamwork.

Based on the results we have achieved so far with our customers, I listed a few key steps in reducing—and even eliminating—the frustration and resistance of commercial teams when approaching non-clinical stakeholders:

  1. Not all members of commercial teams are willing to talk about the value of medical products. Therefore, do not expect everyone to hit the ground running. Look for a combination of experience and willingness to try a new approach.
  2. Effective tools already exist in the selling process; they do not need to be changed. That’s right: the first step in trying to support commercial teams is to understand what they are doing and why, not to start planning new materials or strategies.
  3. Develop implementation plans with your teams. This will get you input and buy-in from sales and make the training and rollout processes run smoother. You can also combine field experience with technical skills to develop strategies and tools appropriate to your organization and its goals.

What are your thoughts? How are your teams approaching stakeholders who view medical innovation as an “additional cost”? What problems are you facing?

I look forward to learning from your experiences. Until the next post!