September 27, 2017 | Blog

Best Strategies for Selling to an IDN

Getting a Foot in the Door and Earning a Seat at the Table: Best Strategies for Selling to an IDN

Here are some key takeaways from CMR Institute’s recent panel discussion at the Fall 2017 IDN Summit and Reverse Expo.

IDN executives seek conversations about partnership, not sales pitches.
Anthony Slonim, MD, DrPH, CPE, FACPE, president and CEO, Renown Health, and chair of CMR Institute’s Board of Directors, will meet with suppliers if they aim to discuss innovative products or new business models that can help drive efficiency or improve care. However, he does not want to be “sold” to during these discussions.

Besides making the mistake of selling during C-suite meetings, MDD sales teams often lack the knowledge base that allows them to adapt the conversation to where executives want to go, Slonim said. Staying on top of industry and market trends can help.

Another simple strategy is to make sure the supplier and IDN are at the same point in the conversation. “When I’m in a meeting and I realize we’re at different points in the conversation, I end the meeting because I’m too busy to waste time,” Slonim said. Contacting your customer ahead of time and gaining consensus on the purpose of the visit can help MDD sales teams keep conversations on track.

IDNs want physicians more engaged in decision-making across service lines.
“We’re moving away from a value-analysis concept in and of itself to more of a strategy of engaging physicians in the decision-making process,” said Steven W. Huckabaa, vice president, supply chain, Avera Health. “They’re sitting at the table with us in a dyad approach.” With physicians involved, leaders will address cost issues toward the end of the decision-making process, while quality and outcomes remain top of mind throughout discussions. “We’re trying to move to more of a strategy as opposed to just focusing on a price point of a particular item,” Huckabaa said.

Suppliers need to know their companies well.
Beyond having strong knowledge of their customers and product lines, MDD sales teams should have a deep understanding of their company, Huckabaa said. “The question is, what is your value proposition?” Beyond the technology, IDN customers want to know what a company has to offer, such as value-added programs and other services.

MDD sales teams should understand that reimbursement is shrinking across the industry.
In such an environment, customers are particularly focused on whether a product delivers value, said Tony Ybarra, CMRP, senior vice president, CHC Supply Trust, the group purchasing organization arm of Community Hospital Corporation. “The days when suppliers would come in and say, ‘but it’s patient-chargeable,’ are over,” he said. “It may be patient-chargeable, but we’re not getting reimbursed for it. So it is important for you to understand the payer mix of the organizations you are working with.”

Suppliers also need to understand how their products affect outcomes like length of stay, rehospitalizations, and infection rates. “It’s not about profit margin,” he said. “It’s about staying in the black and being able to keep the doors open in these community-based hospitals.”

For more on the best strategies for selling to an IDN, check out CMR Institute’s white papers on this topic: “What IDNs Wish Your Sales Team Knew” and “Eight Proven Steps for Becoming a Better Partner with IDNs.”

Contact us at to learn how CMR’s resources can help your teams sell to IDN customers.

Subscribe to Get More Great Posts