As a sales leader, you want your sales team to establish mutually beneficial partnerships with executives in integrated delivery networks (IDNs). But before such relationships can be formed, your sales team needs to demonstrate one critical characteristic: credibility.

Here are five suggestions to help your sales team earn the trust of skeptical IDN customers, from the supply chain to the C-suite

The Five Ways

1. Focus on the patient outcomes and the patient experience.

IDNs are constantly looking for opportunities to reduce patient harm, cut the length of stay, and improve the patient experience (some hospital executives may even be incentivized to increase their organization’s patient satisfaction scores). Your sales team should be able to discuss these types of outcomes and metrics, rather than focusing solely on the features and benefits of your device or technology.

2. Know the IDN’s protocols and priorities.

Your sales team needs to be familiar with the IDN’s value analysis committee (VAC)—if they have one—and the specific processes that clinical and supply chain leaders use to select new technology. Additionally, your team should understand the IDN’s priorities, which may include the standardization of products that can drive up costs. For example, financial and clinical leaders in the IDN may be engaged in an enterprise-wide effort to standardize a type of implant—a laborious process that can require coordination across multiple facilities

3. Know which quality metrics and financial measures are most important for the IDN.

An IDN’s involvement in pay-for-performance programs and more advanced value-based payment models can provide insights into which measures leaders are tracking on their performance dashboards. For example, the IDN may choose to participate in one of the 29 inpatient clinical episodes within the Bundled Payments for Care Improvements (BPCI) Advanced model from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS). Some of these episodes include spinal fusions, joint replacements, pacemakers, and other procedures. So, when your sales team discusses population-specific metrics for these episodes during their customer meetings, they demonstrate their industry knowledge.

4. Think like a Lean black belt.

Many IDNs utilize performance improvement staff at the local and corporate levels to target operational inefficiencies in their organizations. For example, some IDNs are using Lean strategies to better manage their inventory and promote more efficient supply chain operations. Others are using data analytics to enhance their contracting strategies. When your sales team sees an opening to discuss your device or technology, they need to make sure their goals are aligned to the IDN’s performance improvement objectives.

5. Respect the customers’ authority

In other words, your sales team should not look for ways to bypass the decision-makers in an IDN. In some organizations, calling on the C-suite is a viable strategy but it may not be the best place to start. A better point of entry may be the supply chain, which, in many IDNs, serves as the bridge for manufacturers to reach physicians and the C-suite.

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