The Evolution of the MedTech Sales Role

Providers get down to business


In this second article of our series “The Evolution of the Medtech Sales Role”, we will continue to discuss how the sales process has changed over time. Sales teams will soon have to learn to adapt to a shift in the balance of power, which continue to reshape healthcare’s value chain nowadays.

Selling to healthcare professionals continued to be important, but when other customers arrived in the scene, they demanded more than product features and benefits. They wanted a value proposition, and translating product advantages into value in the economic sense became crucial.



In our first article, we remembered a time when physicians dictated the care pathway, based solely on what they considered was in the best interest of patients. Even in that scenario, some more inclusive healthcare systems were able to balance patient care and the usage of resources. The way society perceives healthcare plays a major role and is multifaceted. Although we try to compare healthcare systems, the sources and allocation of funds are unique to each country and mimics the political environment.

Another key factor, which often gets overlooked was the pure dominance of multinational mammoths in the healthcare sector, where few big pharma, medical devices, and diagnostics companies outpaced both providers and payers across the Globe. To their credit, they were more prepared to navigate in complex healthcare environments, using advanced management techniques, and employing the brightest minds in the industry. Their business model, coupled to regulatory flexibility, has turned them into the most innovative industry in the World, with an astounding rate of one product launched every 35 minutes in Europe!

That scenario put extreme economic pressure on the providers, who realized they not only needed size to increase their bargain power, but also a more pragmatic administration. As a result, we saw mass consolidation into Group Purchasing Organizations (GPOs) and large providers groups. The result was more equitable and hard negotiations, with some of the profits shifting to hospitals and clinics. Suddenly, the physician had to consider an external opinion before deciding which therapy or resources to use, and that had a profound impact on the salespeople job.



To respond to this dramatic change, the sales function had to incorporate business acumen, in addition to clinical and relationship-based selling. On top of working with the healthcare professionals, the sales reps  and managers needed to address the needs of well-prepared buyers and hospital administrators and demonstrate the impact of medical technologies to the business models of hospitals, clinics and other providers. Companies souped their strategic account management (SAM) teams, to deal with the increased demands of the “new customer”.

The practical consequences for the sales reps were twofold: they now had to call on both clinical and economic stakeholders in their accounts, as well as report to their sales manager, and to the strategic account manager. It may sound simple, but those activities encompass a larger scope of responsibilities, and an increased breadth of competencies required to deal with the economic stakeholders within hospitals, diagnostic centers, and clinics.

And yet it got even more challenging, when payers also became protagonists in the value chain…But that’s a discussion for our next and last article of these series.

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