Who Is That Disruptor?
By Ibby Smith Stofer
Have you ever asked yourself the following question?
Who is that roaming the halls and disrupting my sales process?
When I worked for a medical device manufacturer, I trained our sales team on the CFO’s role. Typically we told them to be prepared to hear:
- Give me the numbers
- Show me how you plan on our facility paying for it
- What are your options
- I know you want to see the CFO, but he or she relies on me and doesn’t see salespeople
The traits that we stressed were that the CFO would generally be:
- The final sign off
- He or she would have had their analyst work through the numbers
- They would rely on their team to make a recommendation on whether to lease, buy, or do nothing.
- They tend to be loners
- They do not work down the chain in the hospital world
Generally we stressed that they would most likely demonstrate a preference for the analytics and did not want to be bothered with feature or benefit discussions as those were clinical considerations. Rather the how much and why you versus your competitor were their focus as the finance officer.
The healthcare market has been undergoing so much change including reduced revenues, pay-for-performance, and greater integration of devices and software systems. Because of this, the finance department has become an integral part of the team.
They help challenge the team to think of the future of the device as well as its immediate use. Some of those challenges include:
- Can we integrate it?
- Who will be responsible for the integration?
- Does the company have a solid reputation of after sale support?
- Have we looked at all the competitors?
- What do we know about the prices others are paying and where did we get that information?
These (and many more considerations in addition to the upfront costs and lease or purchase decision tool) are just some of the CFO or the finance team’s contributions to the selection process.
No longer are the finance influencers seen as only being numbers people. They are asking tough questions and helping the clinician and supply personnel to make choices that will serve them well into the future. These are the team members that generally have done their homework well in advance. They know you, your competition, and what others have paid for the same systems. They also know how to negotiate and are very good at it. They know that the sale is as important to the sales team as the product or service is to the clinical or other provider team.
So as the roles have changed, we as sales people need to change our expectations and perceptions. We need to engage with the financial influencers early, and we need to ask questions that uncover their needs as well as any associated with the primary users. Often these needs or goals will be very different, and it is our job to find a way to bridge the gap if we are to be successful.
Another reminder, the analytic style preference is still there, but the CFO profile is changing. You are likely to run into him or her in the halls or patient rooms as well as in their or the CNO’s offices. Remember that they are not disrupting your sale; they are insuring that the healthcare provider is making the best clinical and financial decisions.
So be prepared, do your own homework, and know what all the stakeholders needs are. You will no longer see finance as a disruptor, and hopefully you can be an asset to all the areas within your target and present accounts.