GHP October 2015

ghp October 2015 | 9 industry insight Selling Success for the Healthcare Industry – Measurably In today’s UK health service, many patient care professionals are reeling from constant change and challenges created by budget constraints, policy evo- lution and bureaucratic requirements – to say nothing of an ageing, care-hungry, population. Sales people in the healthcare products industry often face stressed and overworked clinical staff. In many cases, familiar products are ordered and familiar suppliers retained simply because healthcare profes- sionals don’t have the time to consider alternatives – unless, of course, sellers of those alternatives have the skills to do something about it. But having a great product is not enough unless you can also actively engage the decision-makers in discussions as to why they should consider change. To generate that level of engagement you need to un- derstand the pressures that the healthcare profession- als face and what the key triggers for change are likely to be. That understanding needs to encompass both the healthcare professional and the patient. Healthcare professionals need fresh ideas and creative insights to address the complex problems they face. They need solutions to problems, not product features. They need a trusted advisor, not a product demonstra- tor. And developing trust requires more than talent at building relationships and knowing your product/ser- vice inside out. The most successful sales profession- als operating in healthcare are those that start with the impact on patients and the healthcare organisation. This was clearly illustrated by Urgo Medical, a leader in the European wound care and dressings industry. Urgo Medical already had an efficient sales team that possessed a good technical understanding of their products and how to use them. However, it was keen to strengthen its position in the market as well as increase the group’s turnover. So Urgo Medical decided to engage Huthwaite International, renowned for research-based insights into successful sales performance, and experienced in changing people’s behaviour to achieve that success. Helping people to improve their selling skills is all about training them to make persuasive cases for their products and services, by proving that they understand, and can meet, their customers’ needs better than the competition. Learning and practising the very specific consultative skills that produce such conversations – based on a real analysis of needs – has been the central aim of Huthwaite International’s SPIN ® Suite. Huthwaite’s expert trainers spent a week-long inten- sive training session with the Urgo Medical’s entire UK sales team in early spring 2014. During that time the sales team was trained in SPIN ® Selling, the marketing team in SPIN ® Marketing and the managers in SPIN ® Selling and SPIN ® Coaching. So, what is SPIN ® ? In short, the model uses a ques- tioning framework to enable sellers to identify a true opportunity, consultatively extract the vital information, build a persuasive customer proposition, and get the customer to articulate the value they can see them- selves getting from the product or solution. By using the SPIN ® methodology, Urgo Medical’s salespeople learned how to develop customer conver- sations about long-term efficacy and the payoffs they could expect from the solutions their products could provide. They learned how to change their existing customer relationships to focus on the value they could deliver. The introduction of a common language to identify and classify types of customer need, and to plan and chart where each sales call has led them within the overall sales process, gives sellers the practical skills to build a simple but effective framework for generat- ing new business. Of course in any organisation, if the sales people are saying one thing to individual customers, and the marketing team doesn’t echo those messages in the wider buyer community, much of the impact is lost. So, to avoid this outcome Huthwaite International’s ex- perts ran a parallel workshop, looking at how the core SPIN ® framework, and use of persuasive language, should be applied within the marketing department– from social media to promotional literature, and from briefing agencies to dealing with the press. Two leading companies in their field have worked together to show that better skills create better sales, and have produced conclusive numbers to prove it.